I have a book called Golden Moments of Religious Inspiration. It is a collection of inspirational writings from way back. One of the most interesting to me is an article by Homer Croy called "We Thank Thee 0 Lord." In this article, Croy recorded a prayer that he found in The Charleston (South Carolina) Courier of April 4, 1837. The prayer was copied from a London paper and may have been originally uttered by John Ward, a Member of Parliament from Hackney. This is the prayer he prayed:
"0, Lord, thou knowest I have nine houses in the City of London, and likewise that I have lately purchased an estate in fee simple in the county of Essex. I beseech thee to preserve the counties of Essex and Middlesex from fire and earthquake; and as I have a mortgage in Hertfordshire, I beg Thee to have an eye of compassion on that county; as for the rest of the counties, Thou may'st deal with them as Thou art pleased. 0, Lord, enable the banks to answer all their bills, and make all my debtors good men.
"Give me a prosperous voyage and give return to my sloop, the 'Mermaid,' because I have insured it; and as Thou hast said that the ways of the wicked are short, I trust that Thou wilt not forget that promise, as I have purchased an estate in reversion, which will be mine on the death of that profligate young man, Sir John Lawson."
Quite a prayer, isn't it? Humorous obviously, and shocking! It's also scary, though, because I believe that it is strikingly similar to many prayers offered in this twenty-first century. “How,” you might ask.
Many pray today, thanking God for all the ways that he has blessed them. After the thanks, come the petitions for more blessings. And there is nothing wrong with that. Yet, what the prayer above verbalized, many act out in their lives. They often go about with their attention focused on themselves, and still worse, on their own worldly possessions. When it comes to looking after someone else, being concerned about someone else, they are blind.
There are times when we need to forget about that boat, forget about those homes; forget about the things that our selfishness brings to mind. Forgetting those things, let’s pray that God will bless others, not only through his work and providence, but also, through us. We would do well to follow Paul's example who, though while he in jail, was concerned not with himself, but with the Philippians.
What do you need to pray about today that is more about someone else than it is about you? That’s Life at Work!