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The Things I Ought to Do

There is a long list of things I ought to do constantly flowing through my mind. To start with, the piles around my desk are becoming more and more unmanageable. There is my dog, Aggie, who constantly desires a partner to throw a ball to him. There are books I’ve purchased and never read, and I could go on and on.

There is so much floating through my mind daily about what I ought to do thatwhen I read this prayer of the day in the church bulletin, it made me stop andthink.

The Collect (Prayer) of the Day
O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

This prayer was placed right before the sermon, as if the sermon would show me what I ought to do and help me connect to the power to do it.

I left the church after hearing a sermon that didn’t give me a list of what I ought to do this week. It was a good sermon, but it didn’t give me instructions about where my family and I should go for lunch or how I should use the rest of the Sunday afternoon, not to mention the rest of the week. Those answers don’t come from a sermon.

Those answers come from constant contact with God in prayer. What would it be like if I thought of God as I considered every decision I made about what to do? What if I asked His opinion before moving right ahead with my plans and expecting Him to bless my efforts? I don’t know this lesson from personal experience, but there are many like Brother Lawrence who made this kind of spirituality a life. (Brother Lawrence lived in the 1600’s and a collection of his writings on the spiritual life called The Practice of the Presence continues to be popular and inspiring today—I highly recommend this Christian classic.)

James 4:17 says, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.” Okay, I can start right there. How about if I ask God to help me remember the good I ought to do for the rest of this day and do it? I bet my schedule will be full and who knows? Perhaps my piles around my desk just might be in line for the good I ought to do that I can’t without God helping me.

What is the good you ought to do today? If you don’t know, ask God. I know He is willing to tell you.



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