A Dangerous Prayer

Give us, O Lord,
open minds to seek Your will,
soft hearts to receive Your will,
and ready hands to do Your will.
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.

– Cornelius Plantinga Jr.

I didn’t realize I asked the congregation to do a dangerous thing until I tried to do it myself on Monday morning.  

I concluded my message last Sunday on the Charismatic Tradition by suggesting a simple daily prayer. “I’m ready, Lord.  Fill me with your Holy Spirit,” spoken with an open posture – hands out, palms up – signaling with our bodies the sincerity of our words. 

On Monday, I found myself reluctant to pray this prayer. 

I realized it meant I would no longer be in control of my day, and I didn’t want to give that up.  Give up my plan to do whatever I wanted that day.  Give up my right to leisure.  “The truth is,” I wrote in my journal, “I want to be selfish right now – I feel like I’ve earned it, need it.”  

The danger in the prayer is that it exposes our selfishness.  We want to be within God’s will … as long as it doesn’t seem too hard, doesn’t interfere with our own desires.  

Prayer – which is not just telling God what we need or want, but is listening for God to direct us – doesn’t end with “Amen.” Especially a prayer like “I’m ready, Lord.  Fill me with your Holy Spirit.” The conversation with God continues as we stay alert for God’s next movement, God’s next words.  Responding in obedience to what we hear is how we experience the infilling of the Holy Spirit, God’s presence and power. 

I had to add a line to my prayer on Monday.  “Lord, I repent.  Please forgive me.”  Then I was able to say, “I’m ready, Lord.  Fill me with your Holy Spirit.” 

It turns out to be a pretty good day.  For when we “present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God” we are able to discern that God’s will is indeed “good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1, 2)

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