For a few Wednesday evenings this summer I am leading a discussion on St. Augustine, his book called The Confessions, the theme of "restlessness" and prayer.
For our final evening I have asked the attendees to write a prayer in the tradition and style of Augustine that focuses on some event in their lives or some general aspect of their lives.
Here is my attempt at this prayer:
O Jesus—my Lord, my God, my King and my Christ, my joy, my rest, my home.
I write this prayer because I “have to” write this prayer. As I lead the class this Wednesday evening class I have asked others to write a prayer in the spirit and tradition of Augustine and so, because I have asked others to do so, so I must do so as well.
And this seems to be so much of my life—“have to,” “gotta,” obligation, requirement, duty, etc. Jesus I seemed hardwired to follow you because I “have to,” not because I want to.
So much of life feels like religious “have to”—church, leading, prayer, preaching, teaching and on and on it goes. The religious life has become, for me, not so much a life of freedom. Instead it feels so much like a life devoid of freedom, liberty and joy.
O Christ, free me. Speak to my soul and release it from incessant feelings of duty and obligation.
Risen Christ, speak peace and freedom to my heart.
Jesus, may I write and pray and preach and lead and live as a your follower out of a deep sense of passion, desire, wanting and willing.
Truly O Jesus, as I have learned from your servant Augustine, my heart is restless until it rests in you.
Give rest to my restless heart.
Put to rest and even put to death all those “have tos” in my heart, mind and life.
Put to rest and even put to death my sense that I am living my live primarily out of a sense of obligation.
Jesus, free me to live freely, wanting-ly, liberated-ly, following you because I very much want to—you, O Christ, who are my joy, home, love, life and freedom.