Monday, November 29, 2010

Today I believe.

One thing that unites the participants of the WCD program is prayer, a particular kind of prayer called the daily office. Now, after doing a little research (aka. Pressing command-spacebar on my computer and immediately being shown the definition) I can tell you that an “Office”, in religious terms, is a series of psalms of prayers said by people of the Christian faith. And so by adding “Daily” on the front we get a habitual saying of prayers and psalms, you guessed it, daily. Although we don’t have a fixed time or hour that we say these prayers (like 8 a.m. or exactly noon), we do have 3 general timeframes - morning, midday, and evening. Within each of these “Offices”, or planned times of prayer, there are a mixture of written prayers, scripture readings, devotional type lessons, and time for any prayers we may want to address that relate to our situation that day. The evening prayer has a section that is labeled “Expressions of faith” that I have found increasingly beautiful:

Lord, You have always given
bread for the coming day;
and though I am poor,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always given
strength for the coming day;
and though I am weak,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always given
peace for the coming day;
and though of anxious heart,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always kept me
safe in trials;
and now, tried as I am,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always marked
the road for the coming day;
and though it may be hidden,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always lightened
this darkness of mine;
and though the night is here,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always spoken
when time was ripe;
and though you be silent now,
today I believe.

I love this part of the office because it covers a variety of experiences. Some I can relate to and others, it seems, I struggle to fit into what I’ve come across that day. I mean, honestly, when I say this prayer most every night there are plenty of times that I get caught up at the very beginning with the “and though I am poor” part. I can’t help but think, “I’m not poor”. Yeah, I have a gross amount of student debt starting to demand repayment and I don’t own (or rent) my own place… but I am filthy rich. I eat whenever I want. I have too many clothes to count – I have shoes that go unused for months at a time. I drive a nice car with which my biggest complaint regards the heated seats not working…. life is rough, right? All that to say, there are times when the “Expressions of faith” section in our evening prayers seem a little odd.

But there are also sections in that prayer that seem just right. The bit about “and though the night is here” makes sense every time I read it. Normally, I’m sitting in my bedroom around five-thirty praying through these expressions, and when I get to this part, “Lord, You have always lightened this darkness of mine; and though the night is here, today I believe” I can’t help but look out my window and notice the sun fading away. This prayer makes so much sense in that moment because I can literally see darkness and light being mixed up in the sky. The prayer is very powerful because the transition between day and night is taking place and I can see it, I can see it.

What I’m learning through this prayer is that there is great power in habitually acknowledging that God will, “lighten this darkness of mine”, that the night will end and a new day will come tomorrow. I think these statements are so powerful because they express trust in the face of adversity, uncertainty, discomfort, weariness, disorientation, and loneliness. They are most definitely bold expressions of faith in God, when times are not ideal.

I’ve just recently had an “Aha!” moment with one of these lines. “Lord, You have always given strength for the coming day; and though I am weak, today I believe.” Usually when I pray through this I am thinking about various ways that my will or intellect or decision making capacity can be strengthened, not primarily my physical body. And so I kind of ignore one meaning and focus on the way that it really relates to me. But for the last three or four days I’ve had a nasty cold/flu “thing” that has reduced my life to nose blowing, hand washing, napping, soup sipping, tea drinking, Harry Potter reading (yeah…. I’m 23 years old and just now reading the books!), and reconsidering my choice to have a mustache (Let’s just say, saving food for later is gross. But saving boogers for later will keep you from having meaningful friendships). And so I've been really praying for strength.

It is the habit of reading through these expressions of faith that has allowed me to understand this prayer more fully, especially through this mild sickness where praying for strength in the midst of my tiredness is suddenly a very real prayer. And in realizing that the prayer is “real” I also come to understand that it has been “real” all along. That is to say, by praying these expressions of faith, we are in a mysterious sort of way “preparing” for those contexts, struggles, dilemmas, and situations. By expressing trust in God when things are going quite well, we are involved in a preparation for times of challenge, when our faith is most bold and difficult to articulate.

I’m very thankful right now for prayer, preparation, and Potter, Harry Potter.


  1. i created an emotional/moody reading [kinda like when someone plays music in the background as the Pastor prays]with my Pandora radio playing Third Day's rendition of Your Love Oh Lord. Great song! Any who, this is awesome because I too have been thinking about prayer and getting into the Word and some discussions about it and I think this is awesome insight!

    Knowing and Acknowledging God is faithful and trusting in Him even if the immediate circumstances seems to conflict with that Truth about God and who He is. Realizing that God is awesome and brings light, keeps us safe, feeds us, speak to us even if we do not feel, see, or understand any of those things.

    Now i am rambling, but these expressions of faith are truly expressions of the faith we are called to have. Mustard seed if you will :)

    I too believe!

  2. good and beautiful things: those expressions of faith, your boogery mustache, and your love for harry potter as an old man.