Monday of Pentecost 3 – Prayer of the Week

Lord of all power and might, author and giver of all good things, graft into our hearts the love of Your name and nourish us with all goodness that we may love and serve our neighbor; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

I have several fruit trees in my back yard. We planted a quince tree this spring since my wife’s source for them has dried up for us. When you plant a fruit tree you will almost always see that the trunk of the tree has a strange angle, just above the soil level. This is where the graft was made. The tree you are planting is really two trees. One of them is a root stock which is vigorous and strong. The above ground part, however, is another tree, a branch which has been grafted onto the strong root. It has the genetics of another tree, a tree which likely does not produce such vigorous roots, but which produces the fruit which we want.

Did you notice that word “graft” in the prayer? We ask God to graft love into our hearts, a love which is directed up toward God and out toward neighbor. The original root stock of that tree I planted would not produce the fruit I want. No matter how well it was pruned, fertilized, and cared for, it just cannot do it. It is the wrong sort of tree.We can go to all sorts of therapy, read self-improvement books all day long, we can engage in healthy practices and diligently police our words and deeds to the best of our ability, but we will not produce the good fruit that God demands, not that way. It is good to do many of these things, do not get me wrong, but they will never make us acceptable to God or even able to truly love Him. In order for that to happen, God has to act toward us. He must put that love in our hearts. One of my old friends was fond of saying, “If you take the letters for ‘God’ out of the word ‘Good,’ all you are left with is a zero.” God is author of our goodness, such as it is. By the work of the Spirit, by the gift of Christ, he has grafted godly good into you.

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