Collect for the 3rd Sunday after Easter
God calls us to pray. Even our "unruly wills and passions" are not to prevent us asking of God in prayer. Yet for some of us our unruly wills and passions scare us off praying freely. Perhaps we fear our prayers are too petty or impetuous. We often feel the need to footnote our prayers with the disclaimer "...if it is your will" - a caveat with which we hope to throw a loin-cloth of modesty over our own shamelessly exposed wills.
In a sermon published in "The World in Small Boats", Oliver O'Donovan reflects on the shame we sometimes feel in asking directly of God...
Jesus is clear that we are to ask of God in the manner of a child freely addressing her attentive father (Matthew 7), not in the manner of a bureaucrat justifying some contentious community grant application. Yet even as we ask freely, we become aware of where our wills and affections most need re-ordering. An analogy from O'Donovan from the same sermon...
We are not asked to subdue our own wills and affections BEFORE asking of God in Prayer. Indeed, we often do not know the true nature of our wills and affections UNTIL we begin to pray. It is through actually ASKING God in prayer, that our own desires begin being trained towards the light of his revealed will. Jesus' own "will and affections" were never unruly as ours are, yet he too knows what it is to have one's will ordered through prayer to the Father.
We are to ask freely of our Heavenly Father. And as our own wills are exposed before the light of his perfect will, our unruly desires and passions will begin to be trained by him.
For more about Oliver O'Donovan, check out this Oliver O'Donovan Facebook Page.
I'm Steve. Anglican Presbyter, Practical Theology Enthusiast, and Graphic Design Hobbyist in Sydney, Australia