Penitence and thanksgiving

Daily Reading for March 28

The earliest step in penitence is to give heed to good desires. They are the voice of our capacity crying out for fulfilment. Desires should crystallize into resolution. The human will is of great power to set the life free from bondage. We do not honour God’s power by depreciating the ability of the human will to do strong deeds. The whole of human advance, the entire process of self-improvement hinges on a stiff will. The first stage in penitence is to bend the will away from sin and stiffen it toward goodness. . . . Penitence springs from a consciousness of having pained a loving God, and continues in a sustained effort not to offend that love again. If the expression of penitence is in the will, the motive is in the heart.

O God, who requirest of me only such things as will turn to my profit, and who art pained by my least act of waywardness, warm my heart until it is aflame with love toward Thee, that my chief delight may be to bring Thee joy by my fidelity to Thy counsels; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. . . .

Pardon is valuable only so far as we use it. It introduces us into the near presence of God, with whom we may now hold familiar converse as with a friend. . . . Under the inspiration of a newly received gift the tongue becomes eloquent with gratitude.. . .

Thanksgiving is a preservative against fatalism. It relates the gift to the Giver and teaches us to see the hand of Providence in all that happens. Thanksgiving is pleasant to God. It lifts man up from the position of being a mere seeker of benefits to the dignity of one who aims to use his privileges as the Giver requires. The common gifts are the ones to specify first. But day by day it is good to pick out also at least one incident of special and personal bearing wherein to glorify God. The Psalter is the best possible handbook of thanksgiving and praise. The Psalms were not written for the specific purpose of aiding others: they were the natural expression of the soul pouring out its highest emotions before God. For this reason they are better fitted to serve humanity at large. . . .

Father of lights, from whose unshadowed home above comes every good and perfect gift, I receive as from Thy hand my share in the common blessings which, without respect of persons, hourly descend upon mankind. I thank Thee for the special tokens of Thy friendship and personal care that have made me glad this day. Help me to use these and all Thy bounties according to Thy design, that my whole life may be a hymn of praise to Thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From “In the Evening,” part 3 of With God in Prayer by the Right Rev. Charles H. Brent (Philadelphia and London: George W. Jacobs and Co, 1907).

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