On the Special Gifts Given in Morning Prayer For Those Who Serve

Sometimes I wonder if those of us who willfully serve family, friends and the world using our gifts in Christ, spiritually have the word “SUCKER” stenciled across our foreheads!!!  Since it is often stated that God saves both ‘children and fools,’ perhaps the wisest yet apparently foolhardy thing we can do as believers living in this ‘get paid and do me’ culture, is to simply give ourselves away and back to God.   To foolishly, forsake the money, fame and glory while working to love, serve and build the community in faith.

There are many who willfully – perhaps even foolishly – spend their lives serving others with their gifts and talents.  These individuals can be professionals like lawyers, doctors or teachers but also include the masses  of public servants in food service, housekeeping or other industries like communications, landscaping, etc.… What most of these people, by God’s grace, have come to believe and are living out is the following: It is of utmost spiritual importance that we respond to God’s invitation to imitate Christ by using our gifts to serve and build the community. 

The true Christian understanding and lived experience of church and community does not teach that one can freely fish and take from the community without cost, responsibility or consequences (natural or eternal). We have a moral and spiritual responsibility to nurture, sustain and to build up the communities we are a part of.

For graced believers and servants living ‘in God’s Spirit,’ the community is accepted and experienced as part of that Sacred Ground from and in which our very gifts and talent have been developed.  As such, God’s servants eventually come, by prayer and grace, to first acknowledge and then to live God’s law and invitation to freely give back and serve the community with whatever we have been given.

Yet, choosing or accepting (i.e. family) a life of service can itself lead to much sacrifice and great struggles for both oneself and family.

Many entering the path of service, at least professionally, do so from a motivation not entirely based on altruism or love, as some forms of professional service like medicine and law, also provide a level of financial independence and autonomy desired by most.  Even some family situations hold financial motivations alongside those of truly desiring to help another in need.  I suspect most if not all entering any real service path will do so for a variety of reasons, including selfishly good ones – like because we enjoy doing it (whether cleaning, driving, caring for family, etc.) and because it may also pay well (medicine or law)!!!

However one finds oneself living out the Christian path of service, the importance of building and maintaining a consistent and daily morning prayer routine cannot be overstated or underestimated. After briefly sharing the points below with another last week, my heart felt called to share it here also, as there are many other fellow Christian servants out there who are strugglin’ and who simply need to be reminded why starting their day with morning prayer is an absolute necessity!

Please, eat the following spiritual advice like fish – if there is any meat in it, taste and see if it is for you – otherwise, spit out the bones… The following summarizes that conversation last week regarding the Three Special Gifts given through daily morning prayer to most believers who have committed their lives to serving Christ and building His Kingdom…

A.   Morning prayer returns the servant and their gifts back to the Source of All Gifts – God, restoring, renewing and empowering both the person and their gifts to begin again… God’s touch enables the servant to – on this day – serve and love once again, even in the face of the very real emotional/physical/financial and vocational realities that one may awaken to any given day.                                                                                                                       

This sacred time of prayer is the secret to avoiding burning out in a life of service, avoiding serving in a specific capacity to long or not being able to find and respond to the  new ways that God is calling one to service at different stages of life. God’s touch prepares, deepens and unlocks our gifts so they can be shared and used that very day in accordance with God’s plan.

B.     Morning prayer reminds the servant each day, that one’s service is about something much greater than even one’s own very life, goals and happiness….It reminds the servant that his or her gifts, their development and now the placement and ability to serve using them for the community is all – [PRAISE HIM!] – part of God’s greater plan, of which God has kindly let us be a tiny part of and also let us know a small bit about…

C.    Morning prayer links the servant back to the Gospel and Jesus’s life.  In morning prayer, one comes to name and face the sacrifices they have made and are making now in order to serve others as a Christian and servant of God.  Morning prayer roots these real sacrifices and sufferings in Jesus Life and  Cross and simultaneously imbues them (and us carrying them) with God’s grace and hope RIGHT NOW and also in God’s Kingdom at life’s end.                                                                                                      

Morning prayer thereby places one’s daily ministry and life firmly within the Gospel itself and on a Gospel trajectory, giving God’s servant a palpable and graced meaning, purpose and joy that surpasses the real material losses and sacrifices one has experienced in life.

May God continue to infuse into your soul, the Love necessary for you to complete your chosen life of service, praise and sacrifice.  Amen.

Author: P. J. West, Jr.

Paul J. West Jr. is a cradle Catholic and native Chicagoan who has ministered in Catholic Schools, parishes and hospitals for over two decades. His current ministries are focused on both hospital chaplaincy and writing. Prior to this, he ministered as an educator for almost twenty five years teaching religion, scripture, philosophy and ethics at four Chicago area high schools and adults at the Chicago Catholic Scripture School. His parish ministry has included preaching, teaching, writing and serving as a Eucharistic minister. Mr. West, who is native south sider, has been married for almost 30 years to Dr. Joy West. They have raised four beautiful daughters who are all hardcore Bears and White Sox fans!!!!

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