Answering God – 40 Days with the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
Day 8 – Thursday after 1st Sunday of Lent
In worship we enter with reverence into communion with God and respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
Come to meeting for worship with heart and mind prepared.
Yield yourself and all your outward concerns to God’s guidance so that you may find ‘the evil weakening in you and the good raised up’.
(Advices & Queries #9)
From the Scriptures:
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
Come to meeting for worship with heart and mind prepared…
Prepared for what? To hear a good sermon? To pray for our needs and the needs of the world? To fellowship with other worshippers and encourage each other?
Or do we come to worship prepared to catch up on the latest gossip? To see if we know more about the Bible than the preacher? To check who isn’t there this week?
Looking at my own life I can own up to every single of the above statements. The one I don’t find myself coming to Church to do is to;
Yield [myself] and all [my] outward concerns to God’s guidance
More fool me!
I don’t know why I do not do this. I know I need to. I know that the beginning of any change for the better inside of me can only happen when I submit myself to the Lord. I can’t be raised up by God if I think I am already at the top of the tree.
We should know this instinctively and should aim to practice handing everything over to God not just in times of communal worship but every moment of every day. But we, or at least I, do not.
In my more sane moments of prayer I realise that the reason I do not come to worship prepared to yield myself and my concerns to God is that I am proud and stubborn. Despite much evidence to the contrary I fool myself in to thinking that I am the captain of my own ship and do not need God to be my Pilot through stormy seas and uncharted shallows. And when I do this pride rules in my heart instead of humility and I find I am lost again.
Yielding myself to God, even though I desperately want so to do, is hard work. I seem to cling to the stuff I need to get rid of and refuse to make room for the blessings our Beloved wants to bestow on me.
As the Apostle Paul said;
Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? (Romans 7v24)
Advices & Queries tells us that learning to yield ourselves to God helps with ‘the evil weakening in you and the good [being] raised up’. Would that that were the case.
Duncan Buchanan, sometime Bishop of Johannesburg taught his clergy a very short prayer to pray each day. I have tried this, and failed, but Lent may be a good time to start again.
‘Lord, today make me humble
…and if you can’t, humiliate me’
None of us wants to be dragged kicking and screaming to the mercy seat but if we won’t yield willingly perhaps a few daily words inviting God to help us to see ourselves at our worst may encourage us to run into the everlasting arms?
And when we do we may find ourselves able to resist evil more easily as we yield our own strength and become ‘string in the strength which God supplies.
Prayer is not asking.
Prayer is putting yourself in the hands of God,
at his disposition,
and listening to his voice
in the depths of our hearts.
(Mother Teresa of Calcutta)
1) Read slowly the note from ‘Advices & Queries’ above again
2) Yield something that is an unhelpful habit in your worship to God. It may be a little too much looking around at (and so judging) others, or quiet chattering while others are praying, or not listening intently to the Preacher or the prayers.
Quotes from ‘Advices & Queries’ are copyright © The Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain, 1995, 1997 and 2008
Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Prayers from ‘Prayers for Hard Times’ are copyright © Becca Anderson 2017
These Reflections, ‘Answering God’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2020 – and may be reproduced without charge on condition that the source is acknowledged