The Reward

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Friday, September 23, 2011 — Week of Proper 20, Year One

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 984)

Psalms 88 (morning) 91, 92 (evening)

2 Kings 9:17-37

1 Corinthians 7:1-9

Matthew 6:7-15

“Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Mt. 6:10b)

From Robert J. Wicks, a clinical psychologist who teaches pastoral counseling:

For years I would read the Scriptures and quietly pray that I could be more obedient to God, more single-hearted. For years I would pray that I could be enthusiastic, rather than exhibitionistic, achievement-oriented rather than competitive. For years, being an impetuous person, I would pray that I wood not be swayed by people’s reactions — positive or negative — or be a victim of my insecurities and needs to be liked, but only be concerned with doing God’s will. And for years the sense I received in prayer was simply: “Just do my will; it is enough.” And to this I would always reply in a very down-to-earth way: “It’s easy for you to say! I just can’t do it. It’s not enough for me. I need a reward. If it’s not people’s good thoughts, if it’s not the applause, if it’s not my image, then I must have something.

Then one day, when I was praying for something else, I sensed a response not only to this request, but also finally to my original one as well. The impression I had was this: “You have asked that you not be concerned with your image or success but only with my will; your prayer will be answered now.” To this I became anxious and was even sorry I had prayed for help at all. I was concerned that with the gift more would be asked of me. (My lack of faith and sinfulness continues to astound and almost overwhelm me.) Yet, this insecurity did not dispel the sense I had of God’s presence. And the impression I had of the Lord’s response continued clearly in the following manner: “If you seek to do my will and focus only on it and not your success or the way people respond, you will find you won’t have to worry about whether or not you are accepted and loved by others. You shall have another reward that will make you secure — in every lecture, in every therapy hour, in every encounter on the street, when you only concern yourself with doing my will and forget about the reactions or results, you will be in the Presence of the Spirit. . . . Is that enough?”

(Living Simply in an Anxious World, Paulist, 1988, p. 54-55)

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