Reflections on the prayer for Lesson 286 (October 13, 2011)

The prayer for today’s lesson (286) is one of my absolute favorites. Here it is, laid out on separate lines:

 Father, how still today! 

How quietly do all things fall in place! 

This is the day that has been chosen as the time in which I come to understand the lesson that there is no need that I do anything. 

In You is every choice already made. 

In You has every conflict been resolved.

In You is everything I hope to find already given me. 

Your peace is mine. 

My heart is quiet, and my mind at rest. 

Your Love is Heaven, and Your Love is mine. 

As I pray this today, here are the thoughts that come to mind. 

I think of this as the “I need do nothing” prayer. Another way of putting it is that this prayer is about getting out of the stream of doing. We are used to doing all the time, of course. Even when our bodies stop, our minds keep running just the same. We are so used to this state of affairs that we don’t normally appreciate just how stressful the stream of doing is. There is so much that is on the line. Think about driving a car—one false move and you, and perhaps several others, could be dead. That may be an extreme case, but to some degree, every instant of doing is like that. 

For instance, instead of thinking about my shoes being uncomfortable now, perhaps I could have instead had a brilliant, life-changing insight. But I didn’t, and I’ll have to live with the consequences of that. Instead of that relatively pleasant thing I just said, I could have said something carelessly hurtful, something the other person would never forget. Thank God I didn’t do that; I narrowly escaped that time. And with the food I’m fixing now, I better make sure to get the chicken up to the right temperature, or I could give myself and my family food-poisoning. 

There’s just too much pressure involved in this whole doing thing. And because doing is what I’m calling a stream—something continuous, unbroken, ever-flowing—the pressure is on all the time. 

Imagine, though, that one day, all the doing will be over, in the very best sense. All your efforts will have gotten you out of the stream of doing and into God. There, you won’t have to make those hard choices anymore. You won’t have to sort out any more conflicts. You won’t have to seek and keep seeking, only to come up with mere crumbs. 

Now further imagine that, in God, that distant future is present. It exists now. Imagine that, if you could really enter into God right now, you’d find yourself there, your future self, perfectly at rest in God, enjoying the permanent freedom from all those agonizing choices, all that desperate problem-solving, all that anxious seeking. That is what the pivotal lines of this prayer talk about: 

In You is every choice already made. In You has every conflict been resolved. In You is everything I hope to find already given me. 

Wouldn’t it be amazing to go to that place now, that place where all the toil is over, where, after a long, arduous journey, you’ve finally come home, and are resting in a state of ease and fulfillment beyond belief? Entering God’s Presence, then, is like getting into a time machine and traveling so far into the future that you travel past the future, past time itself, and into the boundless bliss at the end of the road. That bliss, that peace, which lies in God can be yours now. This is what the very next line says:

Your peace is mine. 

Now, to make sense of this prayer, we need to add just one more thing: What is in God is the only thing that is truly real. This means that the stream of doing, and everything on that stream, is not actually real. While in time, we of course will keep doing things, but we won’t be doing anything real. Nothing real will be at stake. Nothing real needs to be achieved. Nothing real can go wrong. That future self, resting at home in boundless bliss, is the only thing truly real, and indeed, you are that self right now. 

If you really get that, it takes all the pressure off of being in that stream. It brings the peace that lies in God into this day, and makes that peace the ruling reality behind all the separate doings, filling all the nooks and crannies between them. Therefore, as you face the day and its hundreds of little choices and minor events, the most relevant fact will be, “I’m already resting at home, out of the struggle. It’s really all over now.” That way of experiencing the day, in fact, is how the prayer starts out: 

Father, how still today! How quietly do all things fall in place! 

That second line always grabs me. In the state I’m talking about, you see all objects, events, and people quietly and easily falling into their proper place. Nothing is out of order. This is somehow a reflection of the fact that, in eternity, all things, including you, are in their perfect place. 

To have such a day, though, you need to realize the truth of those three lines I discussed earlier, that in God, the choosing, the solving, and the seeking are already over. And that, in fact, is what today is for: 

This is the day that has been chosen as the time in which I come to understand the lesson that there is no need that I do anything. 

Today, of all days, has been chosen as the time in which I finally realize “I need do nothing.” If I really made good on that promise, if I finally got it, what a day this would be!

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