Two Simple Prayers for Troubled Times

Note: This post appeared as a column in the Sunday, January 17, bulletins for the St. Michael and St. Albert parishes.

Despite what you may have heard growing up, curiosity is not a virtue. It’s natural for children to be curious: everything is new and wondrous, and developing brains absorb it all like a sponge. Parents are naturally excited to see their children explore the world around them and encourage them to take it all in—but at a certain point, our desire to know outstrips our need.

[T]he snake said to the woman: “You certainly will not die! God knows well that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, who know good and evil.”

Genesis 3:4-5

It is not insignificant that the tree at the center of Man’s fall from grace into sin is the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam and Eve had all they needed. They walked in perfect love and justice with each other and with God. But they grasped at more and fell—and all of us with them.

The solitary serpent that tempted our first parents seems to have the entire world in its coils today, and I find myself increasingly drawn to try to make sense of the chaos. On some level this makes sense: I have a family to care for and protect, and a responsibility to build God’s kingdom even in the ruins around me.

But at a certain point I go too far. I can feel it: the twisting in my guts, the ache in my heart, as I see the Enemy at work all around me and attempt to take control of the situation myself, or even worse, to despair.

Make no mistake: The Devil is powerless before God and only does what he is allowed to by God for our sanctification. But he is stronger than you or me and would love for us to turn away from God and face him alone. And he tempts us with the same forbidden fruit as he did Adam and Eve: Don’t believe what God has told you—I can show you the truth he doesn’t want you to know.

Rubbish. The Father of Lies can show us nothing that we need to know.

And yet, if you are like me, you have countless questions that God seems disinclined to answer. What can you do?

In the past year, I have come to rely more and more on two very simple prayers to steer me through the current storms. This year, I have committed to making these the bookends of all my prayers, decisions and actions:

What do You want me to do for You today?

and

Your will be done, not mine.

We know by faith that God has things well in hand. Our hope is rooted in the knowledge that the victory is already won. The trials in this world may challenge us, but as long as we are seeking to do what God wants from us today and surrender to outcome and effects back to Him, we will win with Him.

What else do you need to know?

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