Almighty ever-living God, direct our actions according to your good pleasure, that in the name of your beloved Son we may abound in good works. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
The prayer sounds pretty straight forward this week, but as usual, there’s more than meets the eye. This week we have one of my favorite elements, an “Accrue.” The “that” is the clue that we have something special to gain in the prayer.
Because of the conjunction “that” (or sometimes it’s “so that”), the Do is an independent phrase, and the Accrue is a dependent phrase.
To ask God direct our actions to His good pleasure is a great prayer. It can stand on it’s own: “Almighty ever-living God, direct our actions according to your good pleasure.” Period.
A few important notes, however: 1) These actions aren’t our ideas. We’re not asking God to bless what we want to do. Have you ever been to a church meeting and heard, “Here’s our plan, Lord, please bless it.” 2) These actions are God’s idea and the first prayer we should pray is, “Lord, make my will be your will.”
Let’s look at our friend, Jonah. We’ll hear about him in the first reading this weekend. Ninevah got to stay on the map because Jonah (eventually) followed God’s plan. The people of Ninevah repented and their souls were spared. So many good things, all because Jonah said yes to God’s plan.
However, we have more to gain! In Jesus’ name, we can “abound in good works.” This phrase is dependent because we can’t abound (to be over and above) in good works without God directing our actions. These works have been prepared for us in advance! (Ephesians 2:10)
We have the choice, just like Jonah did. Do we walk in the good deeds that God has for us or follow our own plan. If you’re wondering how can this make a difference in your life, the answer is life-changing. When we are abounding in the good works of God, we are becoming the person He intended us to be, and others will see God at work in our lives.
Lectio the Liturgy: Spend some time with Ephesians 2:10: “For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.” What has God put before you, what is He calling you to do? Does the realization that it might be something God has put before you to build the Kingdom change the way you see it? I pray it makes you excited to complete the task.