Heavenly Father, though we do not deserve Your goodness, still You provide for all our needs of body and soul. Grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may acknowledge Your gifts, give thanks for all Your benefits, and serve You in willing obedience; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
It was sometime shortly after midnight in September. Newly minted parents, our ears were particularly attuned and both of us wore up immediately. The 7-pound, new-born dictator in the next room was demanding our immediate presence. He could not be hungry; my wife had just fed him. This was a moment to exercise paternal support. I hauled myself out of bed and stumbled in to find a very messy diaper and a screaming infant.
Cleaned up and comforted, he lay upon my arms and we looked at each other for a little while. I remember that night very clearly. We just looked at each other in the meager glow of a night-light. Soon I laid him back upon his little bed and made my way back to my own. I would not trade those moments for the world.
The prayer today culminates in us serving God with a willing obedience. I think that the important word in this prayer is the adjective, the little word which describes the obedience: Willing. There are all sorts of ways to get people to do what you want. Threats, rewards, incentives, and even appeals to duty. A good coach will get athletes to do a great deal. A demagogue will play on people’s fears. But God would have a specific sort of obedience, an obedience which is willingly given, not coerced. This sort of obedience comes only after two important things which are also noted n the prayer – acknowledgment of the gifts and thanksgiving for all the benefits.
This really works. Look about yourself and notice that all the things you have: the money, house, resources, job, etc., are gifts from God. Thank him for them. You will find that you read and keep the commandments about stealing and coveting differently. I remember looking in that child’s eyes that night and thanking God for a gift given. I was tired and it was not always fun, but I am glad I got up that night and I am glad for every other midnight foray into that room.