Mainly because he isn’t around to defend himself, I am going to take issue today with the great Saint Augustine of Hippo.*
Intellectually and spiritually I know he would eat my lunch, so I waited sixteen hundred years after his death to be sure it was safe.
Also, since Augustine didn’t speak and write in English, but Latin, I assume his writing lost something in the translation.
If he were to come after me somehow, I can plead, “me non intelligent” which is Latin for “Huh?”
Have you ever heard or used this phrase to motivate someone to action or bring a perspective to a situation? Augustine wrote:
“Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.”
I have to be honest the statement has always bothered me.
Not along ago, I was speaking with a person who shared a difficult problem and said, “I have been praying about it, but I thought there must be something more I could do than just pray.”
More than a few times either I have or someone else has said, “All I can do is pray,” when they are at a loss what to do otherwise.
As if prayer was a last resort after we exhausted all the stuff we could do.
With all due respect to the great Augustine, the weakness of his statement is that it might be perceived as attempting to put hard work and fervent prayer on the same level. It probably resonates with American Christians, because it supports the Judeo-Christian work ethic.
However, the key to truly understanding the balance between work and prayer is knowing a conversation with an eternal God has infinite potential for impacting lives, whereas our work is extremely finite.
Comparing our total effort to the abundance of God’s power is not even close.
“Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.” It’s just fine to say, as long as you understand the infinite scope of the former and the limited effect of the latter.
Writing is hard work. It is never easy and natural. As a matter of fact, many Christian authors experience direct spiritual attack from the enemy of their souls during the writing process, in addition to the struggle of writing itself.
So today, I want to suggest some prayers for authors. We spend a lot of blog-space helping you navigate the work part. I thought suggesting some elements to help you pray would be appropriate.
- Heavenly Father, as I sit before this keyboard, my desire is to honor you and give great glory to your name. May the words I type be acceptable to you.
- Jesus, you walked among us and so you know how hard it is to live on this earth. Help me today to lighten the load for someone who is struggling, needs encouragement or direction. Maybe that person is me.
- Holy Spirit, you are right here with me. I ask you to provide a covering against the enemy. Your power is far beyond anything we could ever imagine.
- Lord God, as I sit and write today, I think about all the other things I should be doing and I wonder why you gave me this desire to write. Clear my mind and heart so what I write can be used by you.
- Jesus, you made everything and existed before time itself. Help me never to forget this when I reach the end of my effort and myself so you can take my feeble work and multiply it infinitely.
- Holy Spirit, you are working in lives of people right now who don’t know you or even care to know you. You continue to work in their hearts, drawing people to you. Allow my work to come along side yours and be used by you.
- Creator God, you made centipedes, oak trees, mountains and snow. Your creativity is endless, timeless, boundless and downright amazing. While I run out of ideas, you never do. You are God and I am not, but take my words as an offering of praise.
- Jesus Christ, son of God, when Joseph trained you to work with your hands, did you ever want to give up because it was too hard? Writing is not easy, but I know, even though you are God, you understand my plight. Encourage me today!
- Holy Spirit, you fill God’s people with wonderful fruit like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. May these come through today in what I write.
Do you have a theme to what you pray before, during or after you write?
*This saying has been attributed to either Augustine of Hippo or Ignatius of Loyola. No one is sure. I suspect either of them could eat my lunch in a debate. Especially if it were in Latin with Augustine or Spanish with Ignatius.”