Founded on July 4th,1776, just thirteen years after the United States became an independent nation, this prayer was published in the 1789 U.S Book of Common Prayer.
As I read and reflected on what could’ve inspired such a change in the tone of prayer only thirteen years after declaring their very independence, a truth that I’ve observed time and time again, even in my own life, became very clear.
It seems that if history has taught us anything, it is that we begin most endeavors in life – whether relationships/marriages, new ministries or business ventures, or even our spiritual devotion and service to the Lord – with the highest of hopes and the sincerest of intentions, but time and the testing of our faith prove the genuineness of those devotions.
It’s not long before we feel like we’re ‘stuck in a rut’; or as if things have lost their sparkle and appeal and it’s ‘time for change’
And sure enough, as troubles arise, fears and anxieties become habitual, and since things don’t look like the beautiful image we had previously set up in our minds, so the temptation to ‘freedom’ once again, seems ever so pure a motive to abandon our current status and positions to pursue our latest endeavors.
Most would encourage you that at this point that it’s “never too late to start again.“
Almost confirming to you all that you feel tempted to do in so many ways just to gain significance and relevance once again.
I would beg to differ that things are as they may appear.
For history has taught me something far more insightful through the experiences of my own, once, excited zealous pursuits that have fizzled into something seemingly stagnant or irrelevant
It is as the Word of God states in Romans:
“in all things, God, causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purposes for them”
I’ve learned that it has been my own worldly measures of “success” that has caused me to not appreciate the great significance behind the so called menial tasks of maturity.
With a eye set constantly looking backward and trying to recapture the “what once was” experiences of life, I’ve failed in so many ways to appreciate the “what is and has become” experiences of true maturity and growth.
A common example is seen in the reason why someone’s death seems so emotionally significant to us, yet during their life, we are usually too busy to do all but ever pick up the phone to say “I love you” with no ulterior motive.
Why do we wait to place great emphasis on our devotion to someone after they’re gone, but rarely show that sort of devotion while they are here and available for us to do so.
It’s because the same excited beginnings while looking back immediately come to mind more often in our memory rather than the exhausting work of maintaining those relationships over the years that has caused our separation and complacency towards them.
I believe that this is the true heart of this prayer:
Almighty and most merciful Father;
We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep.
We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.
We have offended against thy holy laws.
We have left undone those things which we ought to have done;
And we have done those things which we ought not to have done;
And there is no health in us.
But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders.
Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults.
Restore thou those who are penitent;
According to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake;
That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life,
To the glory of thy holy Name.
1789 U.S Book of Common Prayer
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
G.K Chesterton – Orthodoxy