It’s safe to say that the novelty of being cozy at home all the time is starting to wear thin. I must admit, when this “shelter in place” order started, my little soul was ready to checkout of regular life and hunker down with my family. The refrain running through my mind for a few weeks was, “Wow, I could do this forever!” Not so much anymore. I don’t long for weekends full of reading and relaxing now that I’ve had several of them in a row!
With my diabetes putting me in the “high risk” category, I haven’t been out in public for over two months now. The future looks like more of the same, which makes it hard to be hopeful about looking forward to summer fun. So, recently I’ve had to pray and embrace being present in a deeper, more intentional way. This has taken me back to ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) basics of accepting my thoughts and feelings so I can focus my attention on connecting to the present moment.
Within this mindset, I keep encountering wonderful spiritual practices and prayers that reinforce the reliance on God daily. I wrote about this a few months ago, as God was preparing my heart and soul to rely on Him. Now, with this SIP order going on to it’s third month, I’ve found this moment-by-moment awareness of God’s provision to be vital for my spiritual and mental health.
Luther wrote two wonderful daily prayers to open and end the day. One morning this week, Mateo and I recited his morning prayer together:
I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.
There’s a realistic scope to this prayer. Asking God to keep us this day from sin and evil feels honest and true, because we need his protection for the immediate moments ahead. We’re not getting ahead of ourselves by praying for things far in the future, but relying on our Heavenly Father for today’s needs. It reminds me of the verses from Matthew, Chapter 6: “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matt. 6:34).
I love how Luther’s Evening Prayer beautifully echoes the Morning Prayer in both spirit and word choice:
I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have graciously kept me this day; and I pray that You would forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me this night. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.
These prayers bookend the day by seeking God’s grace and protection at both the start and end of the day. In the morning, we ask that God would keep us from sin; and in the evening we ask God to forgive the sins we committed that day. This feels both hopeful and humble in receiving the grace and protection that God loving provides, daily.
When I think back to periods of my life where I opted to live independently from dependence on God, it’s like I thought that God’s grace was the safety net in life, but I could “take it from there” in managing my daily needs. Or, if I prayed faithfully for awhile and trusted God more fully, then I’d have it “all figured out” spiritually. There’s actually great liberation in recognizing that I’m never going to outgrow my dependence on Christ for my daily needs. John Kleinig explains this spiritual maturity in this way:
“In our human lives, growing up involves the gradual shift from dependence to independence. But the reverse is true for us as we grow spiritually. On our journey we become more and more dependent on Christ for everything in every situation.” (Grace Upon Grace, pg. 34).
Our growing dependence on God unfolds in our daily lives as we live out our vocations and traverse the years of our lives. Kleinig describes it this way: “Our repentance is not just an initial act or an occasional event in our journey with Christ; it is a daily event, a lifelong process. Our whole life is a process of conversion from ourselves to God, a dying to self that is complete only when we die.” (pg. 34).
Depending on and trusting in God on a daily basis for the strength to get through today brings such peace. I’ve come to know that relying on Him for my needs is how His strength is made perfect in my weakness. I love resting in His grace today rather than planning and looking ahead to the needs of tomorrow.