Monday, May 4, 2009

Augustine's prayer on contentment

This year I've been using a devotional called "The Ancient Christian Devotional- A Year of Weekly Readings". I basically is meant to be read once a week, and it takes you through a passage based on the church calendar, and then a passage from Psalms, one from the Gospels, and one from the epistles. With each reading it has commentary on the passage drawn from the Early Church Fathers - people like Clement of Rome, Augustine, and Chrysostom. I think it would be very bland except that I have recently studied the early Church and so I understand some of the significance of what they are saying within their culture. And when I don't, Isaac does, because this is the topic he is passionate about.

In any case, the devotionals are begun and ended with a prayer, either from an old creed or hymn or one of the Fathers. Today it was from Augustine, and it was very pertinent to what is going on in my heart.

"Almighty God, who knows our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: set free your servants from all anxious thoughts for the morrow. Give us contentment with your good gifts. Confirm our faith that, according as we seek your kingdom, you will not suffer us to lack any good thing. Provide, therefore, whatever you see to be necessary for our health and salvation. Of your fatherly love and compassion, give us whatever else would truly bless us. All our desire is known, O Lord, to you. Therefore perfect in us what your Spirit has awakened us to ask in prayer."

I know that to some, these words are old and dusty, but for the last few years old and dusty words have cut through to my heart where modern authors fall flat. Here speaks about contentment, something I am very challenged about now. In our community group we're dealing with layoffs and financial difficulties that are hampering all the big plans that all of us have. We're young and we have dreams and goals, and sometimes it's difficult to understand how a God-given dream and goal can be slowed or stopped by the hand of God.

I'm convicted again right now that God knows my dreams - of going overseas, of a family, of being able to be a counselor. And Isaac's dreams, of being able to train pastors, of being able to help keep the church theologically grounded, and of a family. :) And... those may be good dreams. Right now, though, we have to hold all of those things with an open hand and just go one step at a time, and while we wait, learn to be content that, "According as we seek your kingdom, you will not suffer us to lack any good thing." His ways are higher than ours, and we can be assured that nothing that we go through here is for nothing, and that we lack nothing.

Sometimes, though to us we may be waiting or struggling, we are actually in the middle of God's provision of "whatever You see to be necessary for our health and salvation." And, knowing that He is fully in control and that His plan is good, it is my challenge to be content and even joyful within that plan. "All our desire is known, O Lord, to you. Therefore perfect in us what your Spirit has awakened us to ask in prayer."


Melissa said...

i love prayers like this, and this is especially a good one. i like to think that prayers like this remind me of the words that i want to be praying, that i am praying, without knowing what they are.

Sturgmom said...

ALong with old prayers, we are particularly fond of old hymns. The thoughts the old hymns capture is so deep and beautiful. I like contemporary stuff, but the hymns speak so deeply to my soul.

amiable amy said...

hi girl, just to let you know i was here...i will be back to read your post, bit busy...

what is your religion by the way? just asking...i did not read the post yet, if you mentioned it back in few hours ...thanks for the comment