40-Day Challenge: The Prayer (Day 1)

Happy Ash Wednesday!  Ready to take up the 40-Day Challenge?

“Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” These are the words that fall on our ears as the ashes are placed on our foreheads today. Life here on earth is temporary — we have a limited time to learn and do and become everything God wants before our lives are over.

For many of us, God provides a partner — a spouse — to expedite the process. Through his loving eyes, we see reflected the beauty and gifts God wants us to share with the world. When those eyes are filled with other emotions — sadness, or frustration, or anger — we understand just how far we have to grow in love.

For the next 40 days, we will be inviting God into our homes, to rejuvenate both our hearts and our marriages. Now, when God shows up on our doorstep, do we keep Him waiting there on the porch, or do we invite Him inside?  And once inside, do we rush about, closing doors and hiding laundry in the tub?

Guess what? He already knows about the laundry.

So then, the only thing to do is to throw open the doors and say, “Let me give you the grand tour.”  And that, dear friend, is what we are about to offer:  the “grand tour” prayer. 

In the interest of full disclosure, it isn’t actually my prayer — I first heard it in seminary from one of my professors, who got it from St. Charles de Foucald.  (I’m not sure that he got it directly . . . probably not, as he wasn’t that old.)

And in the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that the first time I heard this prayer, it terrified me. Especially since the priest who gave it to us said that not only should we pray this prayer every day to God, but that we should consider reciting it to our spouses as well, if we wanted to really rejuvenate our relationship.

“Yeah, right,” was my immediate response.  It was one thing to offer this prayer of surrender to the Almighty, perfect in every way. Quite another thing to say it to … well, almost anyone else. Including the man I love. That’s a lot of power to give someone.

But as we start this 40 Day Challenge, let us begin this day and every day with this prayer in our hearts.  Let’s trust God to work a miracle in our hearts, to help us to surrender even the hard stuff with love and trust.

For the next 40 days, we will begin with this prayer. You may want to write it down and tape it to your bathroom mirror or over the sink, as a reminder of your intention.

I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to you
with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands,
without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.

Charles de Foucald