How To Pray When Things Are Beyond Our Control

What was I thinking? Starting a blog a couple of weeks before Christmas? Yep. Then things got really busy, and my good intentions weren’t enough. Sometimes things just get out of control. Which brings me to one of my FAVORITE prayers, and another one that I pray at least once daily…the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Neibuhr. Most people are familiar with the first part, which is often used at 12 Step meetings. But it continues on, and is one of the best prayers ever for putting life in perspective.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;and wisdom to know the difference.

We really don’t actually control much in life. It’s hard enough controlling ourselves, and forget trying to control others! What can we do when we can’t control circumstances? Accept them, and trust that they are still under God’s control. But when God does give us an opportunity, that’s when we often need the courage to be active. Sometimes we are tempted to sit by passively, when God is calling us to speak out, or act in some way that, by His grace, will bring about His purpose. How do we know when to act or not? We must ask for and trust God to give us His wisdom. “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5 (NASB)

Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;

Didn’t Jesus teach us about living one day at at time ? “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34 

And again, didn’t he say something about daily suffering? “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Luke 9:23 (NASB)

We can be happy moment by moment. If we recognize that, even in the midst of suffering, that all the simple and ordinary things that that bring us happiness are evidence of God’s goodness and love, then we can given thanks for them and truly enjoy them as God intended. Again Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NASB)

Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;

Yes, we live in a fallen, sinful world. St. John said, “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” 1 John 5:19 (NASB) The evidence is everywhere, yet we persist in trying to maintain the fantasy that evil is merely an occasional exception, and not a constant reality, of life.

Yet Jesus said that we are “not of the world, but I chose you out of the world….” John 15:19 (NASB) God is still in control, and He will cause, “all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Rom. 8:28 (NASB)

Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;

Our Heavenly Father is able, and will, accomplish His Will in us, if we but surrender to Him our will. With the result that…

That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen

This life is transitory, and limited in so many ways. Only in the next will we come to the vision of God, and experience eternal bliss that God has prepared for those who love Him. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18 (NASB)

 

About The Rev. Bill Cobb

I am the rector of the Church of St. Clement in El Paso, Texas, an amazing mission-minded community of disciples of Jesus Christ. I have been married to Holly Packard Cobb for twenty-nine. I was ordained over thirty years ago in the Episcopal Church, and now serve in the Anglican Church of North America. I earned a B.S. in Business Administration (Accounting) from San Francisco State University in 1980, a Masters of Divinity from Nashotah House Theological Seminary in 1983, and a Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Seminary in 2002. That's it, I'm sticking to the school of the Holy Spirit from now on!
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How To Pray When Things Are Beyond Our Control

  1. Ben Bass says:

    Thanks Fr Bill, for the insightful comentary on the (long form) serenity prayer. The album version, if you will…
    I have heard the short form so many times, and I think I’d like to use the longer form at our meetings at CV. Gracias.

  2. Stuart says:

    Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not lean on thy own understanding, in all our ways acknowledge Him and He will make our paths straight!

Leave a Reply