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Bookend Prayers

How to See God With Us in These Turbulent Times

by Betsy Barber

One of the most helpful spiritual disciplines to me during these tumultuous days is a very simple prayer that I learned years ago from Jim Findley (though I suspect he learned it from Ignatius of Loyola!).

Each morning as I sit up and put my feet on the floor, before I stand up and head in to the day, I stop and I say to my Father: “How are you going to love me today?”

And each evening, before I compose myself to sleep, I stop and review: “How did You love me today?”

I bookend my days with the Father’s love.

Here’s some straight up advice: Know for sure that your days are not a surprise to God because all our days are written in his book before one of them comes in to being (Ps. 139:16) tells us that reassuring fact. And know for sure that his love is steadfast. Each of your days includes God’s presence and care. Jesus has come and made his home in us; the Holy Spirit has joined himself with our spirit (John 14, I Cor. 6:17). So we can say with confidence to him, “Where are you? I’m looking for you and your steadfast love. Give me the eyes to see you. Open the eyes of my heart. I am flooded with so many other things that demand my regard, Lord! And some of them are very bad, indeed. But it is you that I am hungry to see. Help me to see you in my life.”

As you look backwards through your day, searching for his love, be specific. Focus on small physical sensations (the beauty of my Easter tulips, the fragrance of the fresh sourdough bread Rick gave us, the twinkle in my husband’s eye as he makes yet another pun) and anchor yourself in the realities of this day, rather than the potential anxieties of future days. This kind of prayer actually protects us from the trauma that anxiety can bring, it is good for our souls, it comforts us. It even helps us sleep! We compose ourselves to sleep, resting in the goodness of our God. It helps us to tell the truth and live in the real Reality, not the “what ifs.” As we practice this little discipline, we keep in step with the indwelling Holy Spirit who is always assuring us of the love of the Lord. Jesus is with you. He is doing something. Look for him.

“How will you love me today? How did you love me today?”

This is a prayer of faith. It is predicated on the mindset of Psalm 27:13: “I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living — take heart! Wait for the Lord.”

Look for the goodness of the Lord today!

Betsy Barber is the associate director of Talbot School of Theology’s Institute for Spiritual Formation and an associate professor of spiritual formation and psychology.