When we see this line, "I give my life to God to guide today," two things are likely to come up: First, what does that mean, specifically? How do I let God guide my life today? And second, isn't that a sacrifice? Sounds fine for God, but what about me? The prayer artfully addresses both of these questions.
Father, I give You all my thoughts today. I would have none of mine. In place of them, give me Your Own.
This is the first thing it means to give your day to God-to hand over all your thoughts to Him, so that you can think His Thoughts instead.
This can sound quite daunting. We probably prize the freedom to think what we want even more than the freedom to do what we want. We are quite able, after all, to force ourselves to do one thing while still thinking another. So we will surrender the freedom to do what we want before we surrender the freedom to think what we want.
To make this a bit more specific, it helps to think of this in terms of "my thoughts about…" In other words,
I give you all my thoughts about my colleague, [name]. In place of them, give me Your Thoughts about [name].
I give you all my thoughts about my breakfast. In place of them, give me Your Thoughts about my breakfast.
I give you all my thoughts about what I am doing right now. In place of them, give me Your Thoughts about it.
You might want to go ahead and fill in the blanks on these lines and say them to yourself now, trying to have a sense of actually handing over your thoughts and receiving God's instead. In each case, you are trying to see through His Eyes. How would God think about your colleague, about your breakfast, about what you are doing now? That's what you are trying to think.
I give You all my acts as well, that I may do Your Will instead of seeking goals which cannot be obtained, and wasting time in vain imaginings.
Here is the other part of what it means to give our day to God. The first and foremost part is letting Him guide our thoughts. But the second, also crucial, part is to let Him guide our acts. Unless we give both to Him, the day is not really His, is it?
So we need to not only think His Thoughts, we also need to do His Will. To speak of doing God's Will is the kind of biblical language that we Course students shy away from. Yet here it is right on the page: "that I may do Your Will." And it means here exactly what it means traditionally: doing, on the physical, behavioral level, what God wants us to do.
This can easily sound like going after lofty, unattainable goals, rather than getting real, practical things done. Yet the rest of the sentence addresses this very impression, by giving us a disturbing view of how we normally spend our time.
First, we spend our time "seeking goals which cannot be obtained." Lesson 131 gives us a great description of what is meant by this:
Failure is all about you while you seek for goals that cannot be achieved. You look for permanence in the impermanent, for love where there is none, for safety in the midst of danger; immortality within the darkness of the dream of death. (W-pI.131.1:1-2)
We spend our days seeking permanence, love, safety, and even immortality within an ever-shifting, selfish, unsafe world where all things die. Isn't this the very image of "seeking goals which cannot be obtained"?
And when we aren't running after these goals, what are we doing? We are "wasting time in vain imaginings." We are daydreaming. We are fantasizing about what wonderful things might happen to us. We are lost in fruitless ("vain" here means "unsuccessful") imaginings.
Both of these—"seeking goals which cannot be obtained and wasting time in vain imaginings"—add up to the same thing. We are wasting our time. Could this be right? Could we be wasting our time, day after day? Hurrying around while getting nothing real done? Could we be gunning our engines, burning gas, and blowing out exhaust, while merely spinning our wheels?
Today let's do something different. Let's allow God to guide us into doing something real for once. Practically speaking, this will mean asking Him frequently throughout the day what we should do.
Today I come to You.
This is something we say to God over and over in these prayers. We said it in the first lesson that was addressed to God: "Father, I come to You" (W-pI.168.6:7). We said it in the first line of the first prayer in Part II: "Father, I come to You today to seek the peace that You alone can give" (W-pII.221.1:1). And after today we will say it six more times (in Lessons 237, 253, 264, 290, 298, and 352).
Think about this line. It is a very direct, even personal, thing to say. You are saying that you are going to bridge the distance between you and God. You are no longer staying away. In the context of this lesson, it means you are no longer going to run your life on your own. It means you are done with being separate from God. Now you will be with Him.
Try saying it to God now, and I think you'll see what I mean.
I will step back and merely follow You.
This, of course, is a take-off on Lesson 155: "I will step back and let Him lead the way." That's what today is all about, isn't it? I'm not in the driver's seat. I'm not the leader. I'm not running this show. I'm letting Him take care of that. It helps to even imagine yourself physically stepping back and falling behind your Leader.
This can seem humiliating. The Course is quite aware of this, saying (three times, if you count an Urtext passage) that we find such a thing "personally insulting." We all love the idea of doing it our own way. (This is true to the point where I've heard the song "I Did It My Way" performed in more than one New Thought church service.) The final sentence will address this concern.
Be You the Guide, and I the follower who questions not the wisdom of the Infinite, nor Love whose tenderness I cannot comprehend, but which is yet Your perfect gift to me.
Here is why it is not a sacrifice to give our day to God to guide. There are two big reasons. First, His guidance will contain "the wisdom of the Infinite." Wisdom has to do with how to live life. It really means good sense when it comes to the living of life. How much wisdom do our own decisions contain? Sometimes they contain a fair amount. Sometimes they contain none, as when people throw away everything they have built over decades for a moment's pleasure. But would any of us say that our personal decisions contain "the wisdom of the Infinite"? Would anyone say, "When I decided to order the Fettuccini Alfredo rather than the California wrap, I was expressing the wisdom of the Infinite"?
Second, God's guidance will contain "Love whose tenderness I cannot comprehend." There are three things I want to point out about this Love. First, obviously, it is beyond comprehension.
Second, it is not an aloof, impersonal love. It is tender. Tenderness means showing sensitivity, care, gentleness, and feeling. It is how we think of mothers loving their babies. So here we have a Love that is not more aloof and abstract than human love. Rather, it goes the other way. It is more tender than even the best human love. Its tenderness is specifically what we "cannot comprehend."
Third, this Love is clearly for us, as is seen by the final phrase, "but which is yet Your perfect gift to me."
In the first four sentences, we saw what it means to give our day to God. It means giving Him our thoughts and acts, so we can think His thoughts and do His Will. Now, in the final sentence, we see why this is no sacrifice. It is because our thoughts and acts so often contain little wisdom, to the point of being self-destructive, while God's guidance for our thoughts and acts is the polar opposite. His guidance for us contains infinite wisdom, infinite good sense about how to live life. And His guidance comes from a Love for us that is incomprehensibly tender, a mother's tender love to the millionth power.
Given this, why would we possibly want to guide our lives on our own?