Week 2: God’s call to live abundantly.
This month’s prayers follow the theme of this year’s World Federation Day, ’Living Simply’.
Read: Psalm 23
Jesus calls us to lean closely into God and not be diverted by our wants and needs for wordly things. When it comes to ‘stuff’, the Lord’s prayer mentions praying for bread for today only – for simple sufficiency. Jesus points us to the flowers of the field and the birds of the air – they get by just fine.
However, this isn’t the only thing that Jesus says about our lives with God. In John 10:10 he says that he has come so that we ‘might have life in all its fulness’. We tend to spiritualise that or interpret it as ‘wholeness’, but the word Jesus actually uses is ‘abundance’. ‘I am come that you might have a life of abundance’. For the people of the time, that would have resonances with other passages in the scriptures with which they were familiar – like Psalm 23 which talks about God giving us a cup which is overflowing and sitting us at a table at which he has spread a banquet for us. The scriptures are full of references to God offering us generous helpings of abundant plenty.
I can see that these references have different echoes amongst Old Testament people whose lives were much more vulnerable to the caprices of plague, famine and war than ours (although this is something we have recently been learning more about). I am very much NOT preaching the ‘prosperity gospel’. But all this talk of ‘abundance’ suggests that God doesn’t offer a weak cup of tea and a dried up cheese sandwich… And this is a message that I need to hear – I’m more of an ‘If it isn’t hurting, it isn’t working’ kind of gal and that has often been the way I’ve seen religion too. The Protestant ethic of striving sits deeply in me. That hymn line about ‘and we magnify his strictness with a zeal he will not own’ could have been written especailly for me. I was well into my 50s when someone drew my attention to the line in Isaiah where God promises us ‘a crown of beauty instead of ashes’. The call to simplicity of lifestyle is not about hair shirts and
making life more of a struggle than it need be. Life with God should be a full and joyful blessing.
So, like so much of the Christian life, it’s not quite so straightforward as you think. The Christian call to simplicity is not Greta-type call to a simpler lifestyle but a call to God – and from that arises a call to a life that is both simple and abundant. I think it’s probably true that, if I made my life simpler, it could actually be more joyfully abundant.
And so we pray:
Your purpose for all people is a life of fulness and abundance
I stand under a fountain of your mercies
I am held up by your boundless love.
Tune me in to the richness which surrounds me
(Take a moment here to be aware; to listen or look – to hold and be thankful)
I pray for all those whose lives I can see and hear.
I pray for those whose lives are too busy or too empty.
I pray for those who do not have enough
I pray for myself, that I may lean more into you.
In your name and through your grace I bring my prayers to you.
Action: Do something that gladdens your heart, just for the fun of it and with no guilt or value. Jump in that puddle!