No one except another pastor can truly understand what Monday mornings are like in ministry. I know that some folks will never understand how physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually taxing Sundays can be. Not because we don’t love God’s people and love worship and love fellowship, etc. All of those are great positives.
But for those who take seriously the proclamation of God’s Word, and do so on a regular basis, Sundays are “hard work.” Most of us put a lot of prayer, study and effort into preparing Sunday messages. Our hearts go into those things. We speak God’s Word with both joy and fear in our hearts: joy because of the great privilege, fear because of the great responsibility.
Sometimes, the Word is received with great joy and amazing response. If we’re honest, much more often the response is less enthusiastic. Speaking only for myself, it’s extremely discouraging to pour your heart into a message, only to have people whispering and giggling through it, or watching cute babies instead of listening, or any host of other distracted actions. At the end, it occasionally feels as though I’ve spent the last half hour pleading with a brick wall.
Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not just whining (although maybe a little). People come into church on Sunday with a week’s worth of baggage: life and death and illness and family and job and on and on. I understand, and I even sympathize. I don’t expect “revival” every Sunday. Quite honestly, I know my limitations as a preacher and I’m amazed when anyone listens at all.
But I’m also just a man, and weariness and discouragement and even self-pity creep their way into my heart just like anyone else’s. And because I truly believe the things I’m proclaiming, I want more than anything for these truths to be received and embraced and I’m frustrated when it seems to fall on deaf ears. (OK, so maybe I am just whining).
Anyway, all of this is just to say that I’ve been encouraged over the years by this prayer from the Valley of Vision. This wonderful collection of Puritan prayers is an inspiration to many, and at the end is a series of prayers designated for certain days. I’ve always found it profoundly appropriate that the prayer assigned for Monday morning (Second Day Morning) centers on the Sovereignty of God in all things.
On Monday mornings I need this wonderful reminder that all things are in God’s hands, His eternal plans are far beyond my little corner of the world, He has already done so much, and He is still at work, sovereignly moving all things according to His plans for His glory.
So, the whining is the backdrop. Here’s the prayer. I hope it's an encouragement for you whoever you are.
O God All-Sufficient,
Thou hast made and upholdest all things
by the word of thy power;
darkness is thy pavilion,
thou walkest on the wings of the wind;
all nations are nothing before thee;
one generation succeeds another,
and we hasten back to the dust;
the heavens we behold will vanish away
like the clouds that cover them,
the earth we tread on will dissolve
as a morning dream;
But thou, unchangeable and incorruptible,
art for ever and ever,
God over all, blessed eternally.
Infinitely great and glorious art thou.
We are thy offspring and thy care.
Thy hands have made and fashioned us.
Thou hast watched over us with
more than parental love,
more than maternal tenderness.
Thou hast holden our soul in life,
and not suffered our feet to be moved.
Thy divine power has given us all things
necessary for life and godliness.
Let us bless thee at all times and forget not
how thou hast
forgiven our iniquities,
healed our diseases,
redeemed our lives from destruction,
crowned us with lovingkindness and
satisfied our mouths with good things,
renewed our youth like the eagle’s.
May thy Holy Scriptures
govern every part of our lives,
and regulate the discharge of all our duties,
so that we may adorn thy doctrine
in all things.