I’ve gone back to sing this old hymn three days in a row during my morning voice exercises.
Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer
That calls me from a world of care
And bids me at my Father’s throne
Make all my wants and wishes known.
Today will be one of the coldest so far this winter in Florida. In my fragile health I am worried about getting breathing complications from a cold. As I awoke this morning I thought about putting on my thick, warm, soft, sweater shirt. The one Melanie threw away a couple of years ago.
I wasn’t able to stop myself from talking about it as Melanie helped me select an alternate from the closet. I was immediately sorry and apologized for bringing it up. It was a poor way to begin the day we host a contemplative prayer gathering in our home. I told Melanie this was one of the few times I was sure I could read her mind: she loved me, she was trying to take care of me even when she made different decisions than I would. She did what she thought was best for me.
Even as this conversation unfolded, the sound of the washing machine came from across the house. Melanie had already stripped the bed sheets and was washing them. I used to be able to help her with that task. She carries it out now, alone, without complaint.
I rolled the wheelchair down the hall and thought, You must have the same thoughts when I complain about Your decisions, Lord. You love me. You are taking care of me even when You make decisions different than I would make. You do what is best for me.
I turned on the Scriptures as read by Max McLean while Melanie patiently poured nutritional glop into my feeding tube.
[II Corinthians 1:8-9] We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.
[II Corinthians 4:14] We know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
What does this say about me and my wants and wishes before the throne of God? I wondered. And the morning devotional examination wasn’t over. Melanie read me the day’s entry from Henry Blackaby.
He does not seek our counsel about which direction we think is suitable. God already knows what is best without ever having to consult with us.
What shall I do then with my list of wants and wishes? Stuff them back in my pocket?
By the way, today Oswald Chambers was talking about drudgery. Don’t look for any special signs or blessing when you already know what God has told you to do. Just do it.
Drudgery is one of the finest tests to determine the genuineness of our character. Drudgery is work that is far removed from anything we think of as ideal work. It is the utterly hard, menial, tiresome, and dirty work. And when we experience it, our spirituality is instantly tested and we will know whether or not we are spiritually genuine.
Since my stroke there have been people who, one way or another, tried to express how they have been blessed reading Melanie’s or my blogs and Facebook updates of our days. I have started to question what I should be praying for myself. Do I ask for God to heal me first? Or do I submit to His Will if He wants to use this servant in some way that blesses others awhile longer??
One answer I have pondered played itself out during the contemplative prayer meeting. We spend awhile in silent, personal prayer. Then we exchange prayer requests and pray for each other. I think the focus and distribution of that focus in our prayers is significant. It matters who is to pray which prayers.
Mine should be focused somewhere beside myself. Father, glorify Your Name. Thy will be done.
For the Family of God around me, I suspect prayers of intercession are appropriate (and also focused outside the pray-ers).
Thanks for your continued prayers on behalf of Melanie and myself. When our prayers have the right focus, they don’t have to be drudgery.