Be Prepared

2nd November 2023

I was struck this week by the words of a modern hymn by Thomas Troeger, who was a professor at Yale Divinity School. You could sing it to the same tune as The Lord’s My Shepherd. It goes like this:

If all you want, Lord, is my heart
my heart is yours alone
providing I may set apart
my mind to be my own.
If all you want, Lord, is my mind,
my mind belongs to you,
but let my heart remain inclined
to do what it would do.
If heart and mind would both suffice,
while I kept strength and soul,
at least I would not sacrifice
completely my control.
But since, O God, you want them all
to shape with your own hand,
I pray for grace to heed your call,
to live your first command.

It’s a meditation on the words of Jesus in Matthew 22:37, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” We are to love the Lord with all the emotional, spiritual, and mental faculties the Lord has given us as human beings. As a church, of course, we do this most prominently when we gather on Sunday mornings to sing the Lord’s praise, meet him in prayer and at his table, and study his words in Scripture.

At our Learning4Life Morning last Sunday we thought about how it would not be appropriate to use one of the new artificial intelligence chatbots like ChatGPT to generate prayers or sermons for use in services— not because there might be something wrong with the theology of the prayers, but because we would withhold some of those human faculties Jesus mentions. We would diminish our gift to our Lord.

Naturally, we can withhold those faculties in other ways too, and simply not being fully present in a service is a common way for many of us. We get distracted by memories of conversations we have had or plans for lunch, and we lose focus on what is happening around us. Generations have found, however, that preparing ourselves for a service before the service can transform the way we experience it and benefit from it. By the time we get to the Prayer of Preparation, we should already be fully prepared.

One way to prepare is to set aside some quiet moments to pray and ponder the Scripture readings that will be read in the service before we rush to church. Each week you’ll be able to find the readings on the weekly news sheet which is sent out before the weekend.


If all you want Lord, is my heart text copyright ©1987 Oxford University Press, Inc.