Dear God, let me not be distracted today. In each circumstance, I face the same challenge: to discern your will and to do it gladly. The events of each moment attract my attention and I misperceive this one to be different than the last, to call for a different approach than the previous. Such a hard lesson to learn, that in all cases what is called for is the same: wait. Ask. Listen. Give.
Spurred by pride, I see myself as master of my actions, called to carefully determine my course under shifting conditions. Let me, Lord, grow in humility. Let me recognize this illusion of mastery for what it is. I am no ship’s captain. This newly presented storm is not unique. This vessel needs the same attention as ever – cleaned, painted, maintained. I am a hand, no pilot.
Lord, let me cease imagining myself to live a heroic life. Let my life be one of stewardship. Let me tend to the gifts you place before me. People, objects, no matter. Let them all thrive under the care directed by you.
Dear God, I take such comfort in these daily structures I have erected. My quiet seat. These books. The soft lamp. Blank pages that my pen fills. But O! I mistake the seen for the unseen.
My seat and my pen are neither the containers nor instruments of my devotion to you. It exists apart. I am called to seek you in the chaos, the maelstrom, just as in my crafted quiet time.
This solitude and silence are not your requirements. They are my own crutches. They ease my walking along a path to you, dear Lord.
Let there come a time that I throw aside my cane and walk toward you unaided. Let me stride with single purpose, serene, even as the earth quakes and the storm howls. The tissue around me, this apparent world, reveals itself as mist.
But no. Until then, I so depend on these quiet conditions. Let me therefore be thankful, seeing them as the gift they are. One day you may call me to march before I feel ready. Today, in my quiet, let me prepare myself for such a day.
Dear God, deep inside me is a quiet space that you have built. I become distracted by all the competing tasks and demands unfolding all around me. Hurry. Perform.
My attention darts from object to object; I kick up a whirlwind of panic.
Lord, let me move slowly. You are speaking to me inside that quiet space, and my running footfalls drown your voice.
I perversely run from you, when your sweet voice would instead give ne peace. Let me act no more swiftly than will allow me to hear. Slow. Ease.
Let me slowly do your will.
Dear God, let me not be distracted by events around me. I struggle to keep my mind single; my attention flits from place to place.
Lord: let me focus on aligning my actions with your calling. Even when distracted, in the midst of chaos, let me ask and discern how I might do your will.
You did not build me to be shut away from the world but to walk in it. If I am to so walk, let me have purpose.
Dear God, it is morning. So many chores, as I tend my tiny garden plot. I planted these rows so neatly, yet overnight they became unruly. Weeds grow that were not there yesterday. Each day, it seems, I set about the same tasks to keep this patch of soil productive. I depend on the growth to nourish me. Indeed you – the sun and the rain – spur forth such a bounty that I may sometimes share with my fellows. It falls on me simply to be regular and persistent in these small chores.
Lord, let me take no pride in the neatness of my garden, nor self-satisfaction at my prodigious weeding and watering. No award nor notice is due me for such simple, daily tasks.
Let me attend this small soul in me because on it I depend for nourishment, not because I will present it later for accolades. This is a working garden, that you bestowed on me, unlooked-for, in return for simple and diligent stewardship.
Let my daily work be the thanks I give.
Dear God, let me learn better to set aside judgment. The truth of my inner life is that I am always evaluating and judging: events, conditions, people. In all things, moments to moment, I assess and react based on how I am affected. My incessant judgment a prison made up of self-regard.
And O, Lord, my judgment becomes a weapon I turn on myself. Such small steps I take from seeking guidance, to self-examination, finally to judging myself. What a wrong path.
You love me, your creation, yet I am pigheaded enough to think that I can discern to what degree, to compare your love for me with what I perceive your love is for others. You say: judge not – and this is the instruction I most often defy.
Lord, let me be willing, instead, to be your steward. You have made this creation, quickened these souls, all around. You rose me to be among them. I clearly hear your quiet call to tend these things, all equal.
Let me foster the growth of all of your creation, without distinction. Let me block none from your warming light.
Dear God, let me abandon myself. Instead, I build ramparts and walls against the arrayed forces of the world. I protect myself, both from actual and imagined foes.
Such energy I spend in maintaining these arrangements. Decision after decision floats my way, and in each I wonder, “what ought I to do?” Yet my aim is always to improve or defend my position, and so the question is mis-phrased. I am really asking, “how can I gain?” Such selfish aims, wrapped in pious language.
Lord, let me throw open my gates, scatter my defenses. Let me ask, not about oughts and shoulds, but instead: “O Lord, what would you have me do?” And once asked, let me listen and heed. Let me act as you command.
The world may find an empty ruin where my fortress once stood. Lord, you have called me out to walk among the meadows and leave my supplies to nourish all who chance upon my refuge.
Lord, let me have the courage to abandon myself to you.
Dear God, I ask and ask for what I already have.
I seek a sign – they are all around if I but read them. I seek knowledge of the right action – my heart verily knows which way my foot should next fall. I seek nearness to you – and I keep relearning that you were with me all along.
Lord, I know these things. You have taught and re-taught me. Why, then, do I feel so lacking in what I seek?
O my dear friend, it is willingness I am missing. Willingness to see and read your guidance. Willingness to walk hard paths. Willingness to shed self-reliance and hold your hand like a child.
O Lord, let me cultivate willingness within me. Let the seed of willingness grow, let it break upward from the dirt, let it flower under the beaming love that makes its way into my walled garden. Your love.
Let me set aside this misguided search for knowledge. I know all I need. Let willingness guide me today.
Dear God, I alternate between panic and confidence. Do I dangle on a thread, or are my feet on a sturdy hilltop? Lord, perhaps both are true. Perhaps you are teaching me they are the same thing — that the taught thread is stronger than I fear; that the solid ground can wash away beneath my feet.
Let me seek you more energetically, my dear Lord. I open myself to you and await your visit. A passive child expecting gifts. But you say, “Knock, and it will open.” I therefore must knock. Instead I stand unmoving by your doorway.
God, let this wind across the landscape not trouble me. Let it awaken me, quicken my heart and set my spine straight. Let me not rest idle, awaiting rescue, but set forth on my way. Let me enjoy the brief showers, and have sense to build shelter when storms descend.
You built me with feet, hands, mouth, legs, heart, mind. Let me use all these gifts, taking joy in performing as intended.
If I am your hammer, Lord, let me not cower in fear of the nail.
Dear God, my mind is distracted by all I see around me. I husband my resources, I tend to the walls of my fortress, I maintain my physical body. These occupations consume my time and energy. All the while, you shower me with gifts which are invisible and insensible.
Beguiled by the tangible world and by my imagined battles, I would not even recognize your treasure were I to see it.
Your gifts, Lord, appear so ordinary. Let me see what you hold out to me with such love.
How could such dull offerings bring such wealth? Yet this is the truth of it. That insurmountable obstacle cloaks a gently-taught lesson. That crushing setback enfolds a chance to rebuild what was shaky. These attacks from the wider world drive me to cling ever more strongly to you.
Let me, O Lord, look past what is before my eyes, reach beyond what I can grasp. These things are here to make what is beyond all the more valuable when sought. Let me look through the tissue of this world and see the love, the reality, you hold out to me.