“What is the most I can do for You?": It might sometimes be uncomfortable, but it's always rewarding.
I have been teaching my high-school students about prayer. While I was ranting and raving about nothing in particular, it finally hit me; the question we should be asking God is “What is the most I can do for You?”
Often when considering morality, we look at what we ought to do, and most often, what we ought not to do. When we pray, we can ask for assistance in this or that matter, we can intercede for this or that person, ask for this or that thing.
Sometimes we ask for an increase of God’s love for us; sometimes we even ask how we can serve him. For people in their late teens or early 20s, the subject of the choice of spouse or vocation can be a prevalent one.
The summary of our prayer lives is to be an imitation of the Lord Jesus, his sinless but tortured humanity on full display, who asks to be preserved from the evils that he was to suffer. It is always legitimate to beg to be freed from trials, persecutions, fears, and anxiety. But ultimately, we must end our prayer like him: “Not my will, but thy will be done.”
The will of God can be a scary thing. I think good Halloween-time reading is Abandonment to Divine Providence by de Cassuade. What if God’s will was done in my life 100 percent? What beloved things in my life (think of Smeagol’s “precious”) would I have to give up in order to serve God totally and completely?
These questions (which I ask) betray a lack of faith that God has only and completely my good in mind. The sooner I might be liberated from the illusion of control, the sooner that I experience the true freedom that God has in store for me.
The process of understanding that I am not in control is merely a recognition of reality. We have the choice, however, of embracing that reality and facing head-on the adventure that God has planned for us. Asking God, “What’s the most I can do for you?” is the quickest path to releasing ourselves from the false notions we have of what make us happy and free, and setting us on an exhilarating and selfless path of service to God and neighbor.
Of course, the voice of God is not scary. He will only call us to things that will draw us nearer to himself, to authentic love of neighbor, and of true love of ourselves. His voice does not threaten, but invites; he speaks and we receive what he says because it generates feelings of peace, joy, and calm.
The way we choose is often fraught with anxiety and a false and self-imposed sense of pressure. The way of God is that of freedom and peace.
Asking God, “What is the most I can do for you?” is not for the faint of heart, for the small person. Full disclaimer: It will cause discomfort, purgation, and an increase of time spent in service. But while it is sometimes uncomfortable, it is always rewarding. While it will entail some “nos,” the “yeses” are much greater. And I promise, as I try to increase in its practice myself, the time spent in service will yield a freedom we have not yet tasted in acts of mere self-service. “God, what is the most I can do for you?” Brace yourself. You may end by being a saint.