Prayer: For Ordering A Life Wisely

This is one of my favorite prayers. It was written by Thomas Aquinas.   I often pray this as part of my morning devotions.

For Ordering a Life Wisely

O merciful God, grant that I may
desire ardently,
search prudently,
recognize truly,
and bring to perfect completion
whatever is pleasing to You
for the praise and glory of Your name.

Put my life in good order, O my God.

Grant that I may know
what You require me to do.

Bestow upon me
the power to accomplish Your will,
as is necessary and fitting
for the salvation of my soul.

Grant to me, O Lord my God,
that I may not falter in times
of prosperity or adversity,
so that I may not be
exalted in the former,
nor dejected in the latter.

May I not rejoice in anything
unless it leads me to You;
may I not be saddened by anything
unless it turns me from You.

May I desire to please no one,
nor fear to displease anyone,
but You.

May all transitory things, O Lord,
be worthless to me
and may all things eternal
be ever cherished by me.

May any joy without You
be burdensome for me
and may I not desire anything
else besides You.

May all work, O Lord,
delight me when done for Your sake
and may all repose not centered in You
be ever wearisome for me.

Grant unto me, my God,
that I may direct my heart to You
and that in my failures
I may ever feel remorse for my sins
and never lose the resolve to change.

O Lord my God, make me
obedient without protest,
poor without discouragement,
chaste without regret,
patient without complaint,
humble without posturing,
cheerful without frivolity,
mature without gloom,
and quick-witted without flippancy,
fear You without despairing,
truthful without duplicity,
do good works without presumption,
reprove my neighbor without exulting,
and – without hypocrisy – strengthen
him by word and example.

Give to me, O Lord God,
a watchful heart, which no capricious
thought can lure away from You.

Give to me a noble heart,
which no unworthy desire can debase.

Give to me a virtuous heart,
which no evil intention can divert.

Give to me a constant heart,
which no tribulation can overcome.

Give to me a free heart,
which no violent passion can enslave.

Give to me, O Lord my God,
understanding of You,
diligence in seeking You,
wisdom in finding You,
conversation pleasing to You,
perseverance in waiting for You,
and confidence in finally embracing You.

Grant that as penance
I may be afflicted by Your hardships now,
through grace I may rely
on Your blessings on the way,
and in glory I may enjoy You fully
in the Kingdom of Heaven.

You who live and reign,
God, world without end.

Rock the piano recital grace

Eph. 2.8 says:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

I read this the other day and for some unknown reason a picture came to mind of God like a loving parent at a piano recital. I have now been on both ends of this deal, as the kid sweating through “Shenandoah” or the theme from “Chariots of Fire,” and now as a parent watching Emily and Katelyn. If you’ve been either recitaler or recitalee, you know how this goes down. The kid gets up there and plays, maybe well, or okay, or not-so-okay, or train-wreck. But this has no bearing on the reaction of the loving parent, does it? They clap and cheer and hug and video and shed a few tears. And they keep shelling out for those lessons, even if it is a futile endeavor. They may justify it as a good experience or something like that, but it’s really an act of love.

God treats us like that, accepting us no matter how badly we’ve done (or how well we think we’ve done). God’s grace is free and generous, lavish and never-ending, well beyond the patience of even the best human parent. And God’s not like the tone-deaf parent who doesn’t really know how bad the recital went; God knows exactly how it should be played, aware of how all the notes, rhythms, and phrasings are supposed to go. Yet, God cheers us and hugs us and loves us anyway.

As true as that is, that’s not the end of the story. As comforting and encouraging as it is to have parents who support you as you mutilate the music, how much cooler is it to totally  r o c k ? It won’t make the parentals love you any more, but isn’t it always better to rock than not to rock? Should the kid take their love and acceptance as a free pass to stink it up, or as a secure foundation from which to pursue excellence boldly?

See the very next verse in Ephesians (the one right after we usually stop quoting) says:

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

God’s grace is not contingent on our works; our works don’t earn us anything. But God’s grace does not give us an excuse to slack off and not do any works. We were created for good works. Our sin wrecks all that, but God pours grace into us to re-enable us to do the good that we were created to do.

When you’re playing music, the surest way to mess up is to be afraid that you’re going to mess up. As soon as you think to yourself, “here comes that hard lick, I hope I don’t blow it” – – BAM – – you blew it. Just like you knew you would. Knowing that the people you’re playing with believe in you and won’t blink if you do slip up frees you up to play really well, often times better than you thought you could play.

God believes in your ability to do good because God created you and knows what you are capable of doing and being. God’s grace enables you to do good and is there to cover you when you do slip up. There is absolutely nothing to fear, nothing to lose, by taking the risk to do what God is telling you to do. There is actually everything to gain because with God’s grace supporting you and cheering you on, you will totally rock.