By Rev. Chip Edens
Today our lessons are inviting us to consider what it means to do the will of God.
Years ago I heard something that caused me to think deeply about my prayer life. A friend and I were talking about how we prayed. He said, “Most of my prayers seem to center around asking things of God. I guess I need to begin to pray more about what God is asking of me.” It stopped me in my tracks. I, like him, realized most of my prayers were about asking God for what I wanted. He then said something I will never forget: “We need to make sure we never turn God into a vending machine.”
We also need to be careful that we do not go to the opposite extreme – never praying for what we need. Jesus asks us to pray for what we need. But equally important is the need to listen.
One of my favorite stories is attributed to St. Francis. As the story goes, a man who was captivated by St. Francis’ holiness decided to follow him around to see what made him so special. Late one afternoon he followed St. Francis to his cell in a monastery where he lived. He was fascinated by what he witnessed. St. Francis fell to his knees and prayed a simple prayer, “Not my will but thy will.” He apparently said that prayer for hours.
Many plans are in a man’s heart, but the counsel of the Lord will stand, writes Proverbs. The invitation of God is to, yes, pray for what we need. We might also work to create the space we need to seek God’s will and listen for God’s guidance and direction. It is by listening that we discover God’s voice and learn how to walk in the light and become “imitators of God” and followers of Jesus.
How often do you pray?
How many of your prayers are about what you want?
How often you do you pray to do God’s will?
Have you created a place in your daily routine to listen for God’s voice?
Lord, our lives are filled with needs and busyness. Help us to pray that your will be done in our lives and give us the courage to follow where you lead us. Amen.
Rev. Chip Edens is Rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Charlotte, North Carolina