16th Feb, 2008

Gladly to be Thinking of God

The day before leaving for England I picked up Spiritual Classics, Selected Readings on the Twelve Spiritual Disciplines, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. It provides 52 weeks of devotions based on classical Christian writings for an individual or a group study, with a bible selection, study questions, exercises, and further reflections. I’ve only just begun it, but it has already captured my attention. Spiritual Classics

The first week is based on one of the last writings of Sir Thomas More, famous for authoring Utopia. This, A Godly Meditation, was a prayer More penned while imprisoned in the Tower of London for refusing to approve of King Henry VIII’s divorce from Catherine of Aragorn and Henry’s claim to be Supreme Head of the Church of England. Foster and Griffin are using it to teach about the discipline of Meditation.

It is only about 30 lines, and I will share the first 14 lines with you here:

Give me thy grace, good Lord:
To set the world at nought;
To set my mind fast upon thee,
And not to hang upon the blast of men’s mouths;
To be content to be solitary,
Not to long for worldly company;
Little and little utterly to cast off the world,
And rid my mind of all the business thereof;
Not to long to hear of any worldly things,
But that the hearing of worldly phantasies may be to me displeasant;
Gladly to be thinking of God,
Piteously to call for his help;
To lean unto the comfort of God,
Busily to labor to love him;

I was challenged by More’s pleas – not to hang upon the blast of men’s mouths, gladly to be thinking of God, to lean unto the comfort of God, and busily to labor to love Him. More, like so many famous Christian and philosophical writers, has much written of him that demonstrates his humanness; however, his willingness to die in opposition to King Henry VIII and the wisdom demonstrated in his final days through such writings show God’s grace working in Him.

In living and dying More points us, like so many who have gone before us, to God. “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Sir Thomas More - Portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger

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