As with many of you, I say my prayers before going to sleep. I’ll say The Lord’s Prayer, a Hail Mary, and then, depending on my level of drowsiness, a few personal prayers that are on my heart. I have to admit that since having a child, making it through those personal prayers with a functioning, conscious mind has been rarer than it should be.
So, I decided that in addition to ending each day in prayer, I should begin that way, too. Already, I have intermittent moments of prayer throughout the day, and I listen to a few chapters of the Bible while getting ready in the morning. While I’m happy that Tripp gets to hear God’s Word and has now made it through the entire Bible, I am often distracted and do not get the full benefit I would gain from reading the text. This new, morning prayer would put me in the right mind frame for the day.
In making this decision, I found myself in a unique position. If a nightly prayer is a recap of events – thankfulness, contrition, and petition based on the day – then a morning prayer should be about setting the tone. I had to consider how I wanted each day to go and pray both for God to give me the strength to achieve that vision and, of course, for the prayer to be in alignment with God’s will.
Now there’s a dilemma. How do you petition God for things when you don’t know His will? That thought in and of itself is inherently flawed. By requesting a specific thing, no matter how noble – success at work, a philanthropic endeavor to help people, or the Dolphins to win (just kidding) – then the focus is on my will instead of God’s. Obviously some of those things align with God’s will, but it is not for us to demand and control the timing and means for it to be achieved, but to be willing servants instead.
On the other hand, if I petition for nothing, then what am I left to pray for? It’s morning. I could thank God for a good dream, maybe, but since I just woke up, there’s not much else that wasn’t covered the night before. Also, no one I know has screwed up and is in need of prayer yet that day (at least that I know about). Of course, I’m not claiming that my one-time nightly prayer fulfills the requirement so that I can move on, and each breath we draw is worthy of thanksgiving and praise. But, the purpose of my morning prayer is to focus me for the day ahead, so I want a prayer that will fulfill that purpose.
This mental exercise led me to realize that I devoted too much of my prayer life to details and minutia. I was missing the bigger picture Jesus came to earth to share and die for. I realized I wanted to start my day focused on that big picture. I want to remind myself of eternity and God’s purpose for putting us all on earth. While this seems to be an overwhelming subject to tackle, I was led to this short, simple prayer-
“God, please help me to make today about You, not me. Please fill my wife, my son, and myself with your Holy Spirit and love, and help us to share that love so that we might inspire others to do the same.”
Isn’t that what we’re here for? Isn’t that the crux of Jesus’s message? Isn’t that the essence of being Christian? We are here to share Christ’s love and to trust Him. Whatever happens to us on this Earth is inconsequential in the scope of eternity. Whatever happens to others, no matter how small, as a result of us sharing Christ’s love is transcendent.
Let’s keep that as the focus of our days and let God take care of the details.