While reading a commentary on 2 Samuel last night, I came across this prayer written by Joe Seremane in 1998 in his book Celebrating One World. Seremane is a social justice activist (so is God). Unlike God, Seremane is an African.
I tell you that only to disclose that, yes, I understand the context of this prayer. But I understand this plea to our Father as also completely appropriate in the context of our church families here in America. Maybe, specifically, in our suburban, upper-middle class churches in America.
The call from our Savior is to a life of sacrificial service to others. Be like Jesus. Give up everything I have and give it to other people. And that’s hard. It’s harder for some of us than it is for others. But our adherence or lack of adherence to that command doesn’t lessen its preeminence for us as disciples of Christ. The call is to a constant sacrifice, not to a convenient sacrifice. It’s not to an act of service when it’s convenient.
The call is to sacrifice for and serve others when it’s not convenient. When it’s hard. When the very last thing you want to do is forget about your self and your own needs and give everything to the needs of those around us. There was nothing convenient about Jesus’ suffering and death for me. Gospel evidence shows me he was looking for a Plan B, for another way. But he did it. Because it is the only way.
Apply this prayer to the way you live in your church. The way you act within your Small Group. The kind of wife you are. The kind of son you are. The kind of co-worker you are. The sort of neighbor you are in your community, your school, your subdivision. Pray this prayer. Be challenged by it. Be changed by it. Be blessed by your renewed commitment to our Father to be shaped by it.
You asked for my hands
that you might use them for your purpose.
I gave them for a moment,
then withdrew them, for the work was hard.
You asked for my mouth
to speak out against injustice;
I gave you a whisper that I might not be accused.
You asked for my eyes
to see the pain of poverty;
I closed them, for I did not want to see.
You asked for my life
that you might work through me.
I gave you a small part, that I might not get too involved.
Lord, forgive me for my calculated efforts to serve you
only when it is convenient for me to do so,
only in those places where it is safe to do so and
only with those who make it easy to do so.
Father, forgive me,
send me out
as a usable instrument
that I might take seriously
the meaning of the cross!