We are drawing closer to Holy Week. Jesus is drawing closer to Jerusalem. Can we walk more closely with him? Can we carry what we experience in our moments of private prayer out into the world with us? Consider these words written by Thomas Kelley, a Quaker who wrote in the 1940s:
“Begin where you are. Obey now. Use what little obedience you are capable of, even if it be like a grain of mustard seed. Begin where you are. Live this present moment, this present hour as you now sit in your seats, in utter submission and openness toward Him. Listen outwardly to these words, but within, behind the scenes, in the deeper levels of your lives where you are all alone with God the Loving Eternal One, keep up a silent prayer.“Open thou my life. Guide my thoughts where I dare not let them go. But Thou darest. Thy will be done.”
Walk on the streets and chat with your friends. But every moment behind the scenes be in prayer, thick of business, in home and school. Such prayer of submission can be so simple. It is well to use a single sentence, repeated over and over and over again, such as this: offering yourselves in continuous obedience. I find this internal continuous prayer life absolutely essential. It can be carried on day and night,,,
“Be Thou my will. Be thou my will,” or “I open all before Thee. I open all before Thee”, or “See earth through heaven. See earth through heaven.”
If you slip and stumble and forget God for an hour, and assert your old proud self, and rely upon your own clever wisdom, don’t spend too much time in anguished regrets and self-accusations but begin again, just where you are..
Don’t grit your teeth and clench your fists and say, “I will! I will!” Relax. Take hands off. Submit yourself to God. Learn to live in a passive voice–a hard saying for Americans–and let life be lived through you. For “I will” spells not obedience.