As a child, I always enjoyed school, especially Primary and Secondary education. Until the age of 11, my day started with Assembly. The highlight of each morning was opening up our hymn books and singing our hearts out to hymns.
The lyrics to these very old songs were never fully explained, but I can still recite most of them by heart (see Christina’s “Memorizing Musically”). One of my favourite hymns was ‘Channel of Your Peace’, which is based a Catholic prayer, first published in France in 1912.
Make me a channel of your peace. Where there is hatred let me bring your love.
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord and where there's doubt, true faith in you.
Oh, Master grant that I may never seek so much to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love with all my soul.
Make me a channel of your peace. Where there's despair in life, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, only light and where there's sadness, ever joy.
Make me a channel of your peace. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
in giving to all men that we receive and in dying that we're born to eternal life.
I appreciate this hymn’s innocence and purity. It harks back to a time when Christians looked to God as their sole provider, not just one of several ‘safety nets’ to secure our happiness (i.e. our spouse, our vocation, approval from others, our financial status).
Recently, I recalled this powerful hymn. As I sang the aged chorus to myself, I broke down, realising just how far I had fallen in my prayer life.
Was I a channel/instrument of God’s peace? Absolutely not. Had I brought God’s love to a situation of hate? Not that I could recall. Had I apologised to and sought forgiveness from those whom I had wounded? Certainly not. Had I helped to encourage someone in their faith who was experiencing doubt? I’m ashamed to say that I hadn’t. When was the last time I had even prayed in accordance with God’s will? I am not sure.
I was not really seeking God in my prayer life. My prayers had selfish motivations. They consisted of pleas for troubles to disappear, divine approval of mistakes I had made, justification for my distance from God and pathetic excuses for not giving Him my heart.
My prayer life needed an overhaul. It was as if I was sending God my requests in the post but wasn’t providing Him with my address. As long as I found comfort from telling God my side of events, I wasn’t interested in hearing His reply.
If I truly trusted God as I professed, why didn’t I wait to hear His guidance in every aspect of my life? After all, dialogue is the communication between two voices; if all I am doing is talking at God then my prayers are only fulfilling part of their role.
If my relationship with God was to grow stronger, speaking to Him honestly and allowing time for Him to answer was essential.
As I have previously mentioned, patience isn’t something that I’ve mastered yet. It can often be frustrating when God’s response to our prayers is “wait, my child, wait.” It can also be hard when His reply is “No.” I can react by ranting at God, pleading for Him to change His mind and presenting my (numerous) reasons why I’m actually right to make these requests.
Being willing to hear Him is only part of the answer. Life can be so noisy and busy and distracting that sometimes we need to dedicate a particular time and place for God. For some it might be sitting in the shade in the garden, for others it might be during the commute to/from work, for young mothers it might be taking yourself to a quiet corner of the house whilst your little one naps (See Jenn’s post on “Why We Need Less Sleep” for more ideas about quiet times with God).
Our time with the Lord is even more vital than our time with friends and yet, we so often cancel our time with God when a more tempting offer presents itself. We should look at our diaries, pencil in ‘time with my Father’ and explain to friends, ‘Sorry, I have plans that evening. Could we talk later in the week.’ God deserves our time and ultimately it is us who benefits from hearing His wisdom and His loving voice.
Don’t be content for your prayer life to only be complaints about your situation, justification of sin, excuses. Make time with God your priority. Get your diary out, and open your ears and your heart. As ‘Channel of Your Peace’ states, let’s pray that “where there's doubt, (we find) true faith in You”.
How is your prayer life really?
See you in the Round!
Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace
Words: Sebastian Temple Dedicated to Mrs Frances Tracy
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All rights reserved. Used with permission.