Yesterday’s announcement by the Prime Minister that far from allowing new activities and freedoms to take place some would need to be postponed – such as wedding receptions – and other new and tighter ones introduced – such as the compulsory wearing for face coverings in church from the 8th August (for those not exempt) didn’t come as a surprise. It underlined the continual threat of the virus and that life will have restrictions for months to come. We are about to start Sunday worship in St. Mary’s church (All Saints, Drinkstone, has to remain closed until the window project is completed) and suddenly there is the feeling that we need to make the most of gathering in church as this too may go again, if the virus spread continues.
Other events of the last week or so also have made me feel helpless.
All this has drawn me back to one of my favourite prayers – the Methodist Covenant Prayer. We used to use it at New Year in the churches but I think it is perhaps even more relevant in our current times. It is a challenging prayer to pray and really mean but one that we need to be praying at this time.
‘I am no longer my own but yours.
Put me to what you will,
rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing,
put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you,
or laid aside for you,
exalted for you,
or brought low for you;
let me be full,
let me be empty,
let me have all things,
let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.’
When I gave my life to Christ I surrendered my control and asked him to be Lord of everything. However, I have a very bad habit of trying to wrest control back from the Lord and take over myself. So I want to control what happens to the people I love and in the churches that mean so much to me. I want answers to be ‘yes’ and people to be healed and the freedom to worship in the way I want, where I want. Then I come back to this prayer. It is no longer my life but God’s and if, for a time, he doesn’t want to use me as I want to be used or he says ‘no’ to my prayer I must accept it. I have given him my life so I know and trust that, with him in control, it will be his will that is done, not mine, and it will be his kingdom that comes – not the petty, selfish kingdom of Ruth.
This prayer is an aspiration. It is how I want to live my live with God. I won’t get it right all the time, or even much of the time, but if I keep aiming to allow God control of every part of my life, and keep handing back those things that I grab onto then I will see his glory at work – in me and in his creation.