Disposable Prayer, John Wesley, and Dictionaries
PRAYER—Jesus, my Savior, let your love rule my heart without a rival. Let it dispose all my thoughts, words, and works; for then only can I fulfill my duty and your command of loving you with all my heart, and mind, and soul, and strength. Amen. John Wesley*
*Beacon Hill Press (2011-09-01). Year B: Ashes to Fire: Daily Reflections from Ash Wednesday to Pentecost (Kindle Locations 1997-1999). Nazarene Publishing House. Kindle Edition.
Another beautiful prayer. Life was calling, but I put it on hold and stumbled on some good stuff. I found in this prayer an interesting possible connection to Thomas a Kempis’ “Imitation of Christ”. Wesley’s use of the word “dispose” here doesn’t mean throw away. It means he’s asking that God’s love would arrange his thoughts in proper order. a Kempis mentions the Latin proverb: Homo proponit, sed Deus disponit. “Man proposes but God disposes” (determines the course of events). The imagery is hard to miss. And I think it demonstrates how Wesley’s devotional life included not only intense prayers and Scripture reading, but also the great devotional writings of Christian history. The thought of God’s holy love rearranging our best thoughts, words, and works so that they more adequately represent God’s will is among the most beautiful images I’ve ever come across in a prayer.
It wouldn’t be possible if Wesley wasn’t deeply engaged in truly trying to live his faith, but also reading widely enough to learn from his faith forefathers. In this case, something made me curious and I found everything I needed to know in the Dictionary attached to the Kindle app on my iPad, where I was reading today’s Ashes to Fire selections! The two meanings of the word dispose and the example of a Kempis’ quotation of the Latin proverb were all there. Just a touch revealed more than I imagined. I just had to press and hold on the word, then click FULL DEFINITION.
How quickly I sometimes move through life and prayer. With that practice there isn’t enough time to allow God to dispose my thoughts, words, and works. But God is gracious and can show us so much more with just a touch. Even dictionaries become luminous sources of inspiration when we listen to those inner promptings and seek more. May His love truly rule our hearts without a rival. And may it lovingly rearrange all that is required to empower us to live in new ways. And as that old Latin proverb implies, it’s the only way we’ll be living in sync with reality. Because God is God after all…