Do not pray for easy lives

Oh, do not pray for easy lives.
Pray to be stronger.
Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers.
Pray for powers equal to your tasks.
Then the doing of your work will be no miracle
but you shall be a miracle.
Each day you shall wonder at yourself,
at the richness of life which has come to you
by the grace of God.This exhortation is pinned above my desk, and it has helped me through some very challenging times. Sometimes I have hated it, but more often I can look back and see how it has been through the tasks and situations well beyond my capabilities that I have leaned most heavily into God, and found life and growth and grace beyond measure.

I reproduce it here because this term has been so difficult for so many of you, whether because of work, or family, or illness, or whatever. It will speak loudly to some of you; but others might snort ‘pshaw!’ and ignore it, and that’s fine too! It is not meant to be a burden, but an encouragement; if it reads like a burden, ignore it. And obviously, it is an approach one adopts for oneself: not an approach a middle class white person suggests to someone who labours in exploitative conditions for no money and no reward.

But if it speaks to you, then pray through those days and weeks and months of difficulty for strength and power. When there is no other option but to do what you need to do, it helps – and don’t forget to look back from time to time, and give thanks for the miracle that is you.


Emailed to Sanctuary 3 July 2019 © Sanctuary, 2019. Exhortation courtesy of Phillip Brooks, Bishop of Massachusetts, 1893 (slightly altered) in “Going Up to Jerusalem”, Twenty Sermons (1886). Image credit: Josh Boot on Unsplash.

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