“Take me, dear Lord, and set me in the direction I am to go,” author Flannery O’Connor implores in her prayer journal.
“Jesus…help me to find adventure in my uniqueness, and not want to be what someone else is,” Christian speaker Ann Kiemel writes in her book, I Love the Word Impossible.
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going,” Thomas Merton confesses in No Man is an Island. “But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.”
In many ways, prayers are like a resolve – a “firmness of purpose or intent”, or a “firm commitment or determination to do something.”
In theory, we are committing ourselves to God – to His will, desires and plans – with a humble recognition of our deficiencies and a growing awareness of His sovereignty.
Indeed, as Mother Teresa once said:
“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at his disposition, and listening to his voice in the depths of our heart.”
It’s as simple, Epictetus argues in Discourses, as making a choice:
“I have bound up my choice to act with the will of God. God wills that I be sick, such is my will. He wills that I should choose something, so do I. He wills that I reach for something, or something be given to me – I wish for the same. What God doesn’t will, I do not wish for.”
In practice, of course, prayerful submission is rather difficult to do, particularly for an imperfect creation that much prefers to exercise control, independence and self-sufficiency.
Yet, it seems to be a necessity if we are to live with the joy, love, peace and contentment we desire.
For, as St. Augustine writes in Confessions:
“My soul is restless until it rests in thee.”
“Submission to God is eternal rest.”
With that in mind, below is a “morning resolve” taken from the Book of Common Prayer — a commitment we can turn to, again and again, as we navigate our way through the beauty and complexity of life:
“I will try this day to live a simple, sincere and serene life, repelling promptly every thought of discontent, anxiety, discouragement, impurity, and self-seeking; cultivating cheerfulness, magnanimity, charity, and the habit of holy silence; exercising economy in expenditure, generosity in giving, carefulness in conversation, diligence in appointed service, fidelity to every trust, and a childlike faith in God.
In particular I will try to be faithful in those habits of prayer, work, study, physical exercise, eating, and sleep which I believe the Holy Spirit has shown me to be right.
And as I cannot in my own strength do this, nor even with a hope of success attempt it, I look to thee, O Lord God my Father, in Jesus my Savior, and ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit.”