Monday, August 27, 2012

Opening the Father's Hand

In the mind of English Puritans prayer was a duty. Prayer may have been a duty of delight, but still a duty. Duty: a moral obligation, a required action.

In my own mind prayer has been an act of worship, therefore an emotional response. I pray when I feel like it. Or I've thought of prayer as a gift. I'm not gifted. I rarely feel like praying. Just not a prayer - my common excuse. Then, too, prayer takes time. I must slow, I must quiet my soul, and those are qualities too rare in all of our lives.

I am reading William Bridge, A Lifting Up for the Downcast. A Puritan who published these thirteen sermons on Psalm 42 in 1649. It seems even then people did not "go to duty" as they should have. Bridge urges not discouragement, instead gives comfort and recommends humility. Come to God as a beggar.

Hundreds of years later the heart of man is unchanged, still sinful before a holy God, still fighting for our own ways. But God also is unchanged, faithful, with mercies new every morning.

Indeed, God seems to deal by us sometimes as a father does by his little child. He holds a piece of gold or silver in his hand, and says, If you can get this out of my hand you shall have it; so the child strives and pulls, and works, and then the father opens his hand by degrees, first one finger, then another, and then another, and at last his whole hand; and the child thinks he has got the money by his own strength and labour, whereas the father intended to give it him, but in that way.
 -  From Chapter 3: A Lifting Up In the Miscarriage of Duty      

A little pulling, a little working, a little labor, a little opening of the Father's hand.

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