Beliefnet
Prayer, Plain and Simple

I looked at my calendar for the day. It’s packed. A two hour meeting begins at 8:00 AM. Another follows without a break. If I’m efficient, I’ll be able to hurry back to my office for an hour to return calls and emails before another meeting begins at 1:00. At 2:30 I have a conference call after which I’ll  have about 90 minutes at the end of my work day to cram in all the other items on my “gotta get done” list – assuming nothing unexpected comes up.

Then I’ll come home to mow the lawn, throw batting practice to my 11 year old son, barbeque chicken for company that’s coming for dinner, do a late night “Skype” with one of our daughters in Australia, and chat on Facebook with another in South Africa. And I haven’t told you the half of it!

I’m not griping. I love my life and the people who share it with me. But the math simply doesn’t add up. Today has no margin and I’m living on deficit spending before I even start. I’m faced with one more living example that life is a set up for failure. In fact, I firmly believe I’m doomed to failure.

And I think God set it up this way. I think God gives me more than I can handle on purpose, to lead me quickly to the end of my capacity and then to more eagerly partner with him in the details before me.

So this morning I’ve looked again at my calendar and my list of responsibilities and I’ve asked specifically for his efficiency and wisdom in every “must.” I’ve also asked him to weed out the negotiables, to give me courage to say “no” to some things, and to take some things on himself and do them without me.

Frankly, without God’s help, I’m sunk. I admit it, to God first, to myself, and now to you. Life really is a set up for failure. I can’t do my job, love my wife, raise my kids, nurture my friendships or care for myself alone. Won’t happen. So God gives me the gift of prayer, his invitation to “intentional passivity,” where I can admit my need and ask for his aid.

One of my mentors, Morris Vaagenes often repeats a wise and simple prayer that pretty much sums up everything we need to know about life:

“I can’t. You can. Please do. Thank you!”  

Try saying this a few times today to God when you’re in over your head, or confused, or exhausted.

“I can’t. You can. Please do. Thank you!”  

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