Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated unto you and then use us, we pray you as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
“Use us we pray as you will.” These seven words from Bethesda’s Prayer for the Month of March* speak volumes about how to live a Christian life. Yes, we want God to use us as God desires, but do we have a role to play? Yes, we do!
Our role is to partner with God and our Christian community in the deeply spiritual task of discernment. There is nothing more challenging or rewarding than taking the time to discern God’s will in our life, who God wants us to be, and what God wants us to accomplish. Such discernment takes time, patience, a commitment to prayer, and the input of others. Why? Because there are many voices we can hear in the midst of such discernment that may or may not be the voice of God.
Discerning God’s will in our life is not a one-time task. It is a life-long process of being willing to empty ourselves of our preconceived notions, desires, and ego needs long enough to let God in. There is no room for God to act when we are filled to the brim with our own certainties of what God wants us to do or be.
To aid in your discernment during this Lenten season, think of a time in your life when you did something for another person, a time that was especially meaningful to you, that nurtured you. What gift did you use? Not what skill, but what gift. Write it down. When you use your gifts, you too, are nurtured. God actually ministers to us when you share our gifts. There’s a marvelous kind of reciprocity there.
As you reflect on this gift in light of God’s will for you, these words by Sam Keen in The Passionate Life might be helpful:
“The meaning that informs my life cannot be discovered by any general formula . . . my destiny, the meaning of my life, my calling, is discovered only within the intimacy of my experience. My destiny is revealed only to me. We are each called by name. A small voice, easily ignored, whispers: ‘This is your work. This is your place. These are your neighbors. This is the burden you are to bear. This is the healing you are to undertake. This is the gift you are to exercise.”
In your journey of discernment this Lent, you might ask yourself this question. “Am I willing to let something die in me in order to give God room to start something new?”
Yes, God, use me as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people.
*Your clergy have selected a prayer for each month which is shared via your Shepherd’s monthly email. The prayer for this month is #61 A Prayer of Self-Dedication found on page 832 in The Book of Common Prayer or online at The Online Book of Common Prayer (bcponline.org). Go to Prayers and Thanksgivings; scroll down to #61.
The Rev. Canon Elizabeth Rankin