Exactly one year ago this week, I experienced a natural disaster of international proportions. I was waiting for my flight in Narita International Airport in Tokyo when, I learned of a major typhoon that was marching west from the Pacific toward Manila, my final destination. As we were waiting on the tarmac in Japan, the captain was giving his pre-flight announcements that included, “Please expect extreme turbulence during the last hour of the flight due to the typhoon, which will be our descent into Manila.” Those are words you never want to hear on a plane.
As we began to make our descent over Manila Bay, I could see out of the window the storm front to the west. It was a never ending array of lightening and clouds lighting up as we were approaching the airport. The plane started to rock, the lightening felt closer, and I continued my prayers. I started praying over and over again with my inhales “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,” and with my exhales “Have mercy upon me a sinner.”
This was a prayer I read about in a book titled The Way of the Pilgrim. The story follows a spiritual wanderer in Russia who encounters a monk who challenges the man to pray without ceasing, as Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5: 16. This book is a Russian Orthodox classic. I’m glad I encountered that book and prayer before my experience in the Philippines. It provided for me a prayer for the time.
As I received the phone call about my new appointment a few months ago, I immediately prayed about my new call. During this time of prayer and silence, my prayer for the time became “Lord, I trust you.” It was a prayer for the time. It’s amazing how God, at times, gives us the words and the prayers to pray. Each chapter in life has it’s own prayer for the time. There may be prayers of thanksgiving, lament, joy, or pain, but there are prayers that often speak to a certain period of one’s life.
More recently, as I have begun ministry in Indianapolis with Meridian Street United Methodist, I have sensed a call to recommit myself on a daily basis to God’s work for my life. The prayer for this time is the “Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition.” It was written by John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement. In his Journal, Wesley wrote that the prayer was first used on Monday, August 11th, 1755 at a church in London. It’s been used by Methodists ever since.
This Wesley Covenant Prayer has become the prayer for the time. As I learn ministry in a new context, I pray daily
I am no longer my own, but yours. Put me to what you will, place me with whom you will. Put me to doing, put me to suffering, Let me be put to work for you or set aside for you, Praised for you or criticized for you. Let me be full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely and fully surrender all things to your glory and service. And now, O wonderful and holy God, Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, you are mine, and I am yours. So be it. And the covenant which I have made on earth, Let it be made in heaven. Amen.