The Annunciation Trust

to help you discover the God you already know

Tag: trust

What shall we do?

This year I have started out trying to live all my waking moments in conscious listening to the inner voice, asking without ceasing, “What, Father, do you desire said? What, Father, do you desire done this minute?”
It is clear that this is what Jesus was doing all day every day. But it is not what his followers have been doing in very large numbers.

Frank Laubach, Letters by a Modern Mystic (p. 4)

What shall I do? What is the best thing to do? How shall I make best use of my time? These are perennial human questions.

I have written before about the question people ask God: “What do You want me to do?” This may be  posed in a grandiose way, “What do You want me to do with my life?” The last time I wrote about this question I suggested that if we are going to presume that listening to God is a good way to get an answer, then this question is not the right place to start. You have to know God – to be in relationship with God – before you can know what God wants. And, because you are not separate from God, knowing God goes hand-in-glove with knowing yourself.

The experience of being human is to live as multiple personalities. Our thoughts host competing voices from several sources. Discernment is a life-long, often heart-breaking process of careful sifting to identify the authentic voice – the voice of God that speaks in us and as us.

When we ask, “What does God want me to do with my life?”, we set up an impossible conundrum. The question is based on the old, worn-out model of a god, an alien will somewhere out there, with a plan for all of our lives. If only this god would let on what is in his (sic) plan then we would know what to do.

The world is not like this. God has desires for us, desires for life, for happiness, for joy. A universe in which a god had a plan for every life would be a universe in which everything was foreordained. But God is more like a flow, a flow in the direction of life, love, and joy, a flow that constantly shifts with every turn of events – like a river running to the sea and flowing in response to the lay of the land. Then one day there is a landslide – a divorce, a death, illness, loss of employment – and the flow is blocked, for a while, and has to find another way.

Of course, it can be worth making long-term plans in life. It can be worth thinking about the unique person you are and the unique calling you may have. But oftentimes we will struggle to know what we want in the long-term, we cannot know what our lives are for, and we will never get to the bottom of who and what we are.

In line with Frank Laubach, I propose a different question.

What do You desire now?

When I ask myself this question I experience a kind of relief as time and space collapse into a point located in my chest. I am connected to God here and now. I stop thinking about the future. I stop worrying about outcomes. It is like I come home to myself. I no longer have to have a plan and think of the long term. I stop obsessing about ‘my’ life. All I am asking is, “What now?”

I have found that we can establish ourselves in a sense of the presence of God by continually talking with Him.

Brother Lawrence, Practising His Presence, p. 42

Immediately the whole thing becomes simpler. I am able to listen more intimately to myself, to what I really want at this moment. I am not burdened with worries about whether I am doing the right thing and what other people will think of me.

Life becomes an exploration, more playful, a set of experiments, trial-and error/trial-and-success. I ask the question, “What do You want me to do now?” I listen briefly for an answer and then I act. Sometime later I assess. How do I feel now? Was that worth doing? Did that seem meaningful? Do I have a feeling of satisfaction? Was I loving? Do I feel more or less satisfied by how I spent my time? Do I feel more or less enlivened, centred, content, present to God?

This requires a kind of trust in God, in the Universe, in Life – whatever you want to call it. It is trusting that I am part of something greater than little old me, something that has a better perspective that I can ever have, the “affirming source”. If I just ask about what comes next then I inhabit something beyond myself. I can go with the flow.

(For more on trust, read this and that.)

It is also trusting that it is ok to play and to make mistakes. So much rides on the answer to the question, “What does God want me to do with my life?” The fear of getting it wrong is potentially catastrophic and we can be petrified into inaction for years. The question, “What do You want me to do now?”, has very little riding on it. Made a wrong turn? Readjust the course. Said the wrong thing? Apologise and try again. Wasted your time? Do something more satisfying now.

(To hear God speak about play and mistakes, read this.)

To me, the question “What do You desire said or done (or not), now?” is less narcissistic, less of the grand narrative, more grounded and ordinary, more humble, less about how I look to others and more about an inner authority, less about comfort and more about contentment, less striving or soothing and more satisfaction, and frequently less about getting things done and more about simple presence. It is less about Heaven (a future destination and reward) and more about Eternity (a present reality). It is just about now, doing this with love and presence.

(To read my thoughts on meaning and purpose here.)

It is trusting that if I do the next thing and the next thing and then the next thing, that a thread will emerge that will carry me into life and into You. Little by little I become more sensitive to the authentic voice inside me, the voice of God. Little by little God becomes my constant companion.

[Syndicated from]

The only 3 prayers you need

Too often prayer is presented as petition.
But the word ‘prayer’ is simply religious jargon for relationship with what we call God.
In truth there are only three prayers.

Prayer is properly not petition, but simply attention to God which is a form of love.

Iris Murdoch, On ‘God’ and ‘Good’ in Existentialists And Mystics

1. “Here I am.”

Inevitably, when I sit and pray in the morning I wish for a new, improved me. I lack kindness to myself. I try to think my way into becoming better. I try to think about how to sort out my life. I try to think about what to do. But thinking is not prayer.

Presence is prayer.

When I say, “Here I am,”
    I say it to myself,
    I say it to Life,
    I say it to the Universe,
    I say it to You,
        You who are always, inevitably present
        in and through and around…

When I say, “Here I am,” God, I mean,
    I don’t know what You are,
    I don’t know what I am,
    “Here I am.”

This, I reckon, is enough.
Everything else is baroque.

This is presence.
    When all is said and done,
        “I just want to be with You.”

2. “Thank you.”

I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me… but it’s hard to stay mad, when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst… And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life…

American Beauty

Gratitude is prayer.

I might not have lived.
I am held alive by conditions I do not control.
One day,
    when the conditions change,
        I will cease to live.
    When I am present I feel this in this body,
        this breath.
    When I breathe there is gratitude.
“Thank You.”

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted

Mary Oliver, Morning Poem, from Dream Work, p. 6

3. “Help me.”

I am so distant from the hope of myself.

Mary Oliver, When I am among the treesfrom Thirst

Kindness is prayer.

I search outside myself for
I am compromised,
    inordinately attached,
I lack integrity.
My heart is defended.
I cannot trust.
I fail to live.

Help me.
Please free me from
that comes between me and You.

The point of prayer is not petition. It is the recognition of my need. When I am beyond redemption it (re)connects me with You.

Prayer is coming to God empty-handed, undefended, indigent – not that you are without worth, but your worth has nothing to do with you. Prayer involves vulnerability. We have to come as the glorious, fragile, messy, inadequate people we are. Needy. Unable to sort out our lives.

These three prayers help me to be present and connected even in my struggles. They are a kindness to myself. They require so little from me, which is a relief.

What is the prayer you need?

Follow this with:

[Syndicated from]


People think
they are
not good

is discovering
you don’t have to be.

[Syndicated from]

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