The Collect for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time dates back to the 7th Century. It’s message is timeless.
To: Almighty ever-living God,
Do: grant that we may always conform our will to yours and serve your majesty in sincerity of heart.
Through: Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
Our prayer this week has two petitions we’re asking of God. They may seem like a challenge, but when we see God for who he is, they become our heart’s desires.
The first petition is that we will conform our will to God’s. In the original Latin translation of this prayer, the wording is a bit different, “may we bear witness to God’s will.” I love how that wording may seem easier to swallow, however, it means the same thing.
It’s a prayer that I’ve prayed for years, “Lord, conform my will to Yours.” It should be an easy thing to do, shouldn’t it? A wise priest advised me to always trust God’s will. He told me that if I would simply trust God’s will, there would be no worry or doubt, there would only be peace. Actually, when I do feel irritation, I try to remember that I have an opportunity for virtue-building, to offer a prayer, to surrender this to God, to conform my will to his. Truth be told, sometimes it’s just not that simple.
Someone else once told me that desiring God’s will was easy. All you have to do is have your will run parallel to God’s. Sorry, that doesn’t count. Conforming my will to God’s means there’s only one will involved and it isn’t mine.
While conforming our will to God’s is what struck me first about this prayer, the more I meditated on it, the more I realized that the word majesty is what needs to be focused on.
Majesty is easy to underestimate. We saw majestic moments during the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. However, God’s majesty is often neglected.
In this prayer, majesty means the sovereign power, the greatness, and the glory of God. As they left slavery, the Israelites saw God’s majesty first-hand; the pillar of fire, the glow on Moses’ face.
It seems that in today’s world, having an encounter with God’s majesty is something that, not always, but often, requires our deliberate intention. How can the human mind comprehend God’s work of creation, his higher-than-the-mountain-deeper-than-the-sea love for us, or the price he paid to restore relationship with us?
It is possible that in thinking of God’s greatness, we realize our littleness. It is easier to try to make God in our image, a God who likes what I like or thinks what I think, rather than taking the time in prayer to get to know a God who is almighty, seems far-off - who art in Heaven - but yet, is as close to us as breath. Be assured that this is time well spent.
I couldn’t sleep one night and decided that, as I laid in bed, I would think about the greatness of God. I do not recommend this plan. What happened that night was, when I thought about how good God is and how great his love is for us, I was so uplifted and excited it took me forever to fall asleep, but I fell asleep happy! (Note to self: Save this spiritual exercise for daytime.)
Surrender to the majesty. Meditating on the majesty of God and coming to know our sovereign God will make conforming our will to his and serving him with our whole heart not only our desire, it will become our joy.
Thank you for praying with me.