These are a couple of texts that have helped me, at different times, to fight the impulse to avoid the work that God has placed before me. The first is what I think of as “The Prayer for Finishing Your Dissertation.” I’ll bet you didn’t know there was any such thing in the Canadian Book of Common Prayer. Actually, it is called “A Prayer for Stedfastness” (spelled like that), and it’s found in the section “Forms of Prayer to be Used at Sea.” I don’t even know how I came across it, except that presumably I was looking for something else, as I was not in fact writing my dissertation at sea. I think it is applicable to anyone working at any kind of project.
O Lord God, when thou givest thy servants to endeavour any great matter, grant us also to know that it is not the beginning but the continuing of the same until it be thoroughly finished, which yieldeth the true glory; through him that for the finishing of thy work laid down his life, our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Amen.
The second item is a hymn that we sang one Sunday, after my dissertation was finished, when I was feeling particularly self-pitying about my job. Later I printed it out and pinned it to the bulletin board beside my desk to read in the morning before starting work. It’s by Charles Wesley; it’s not nearly as recherché as the Prayer for Stedfastness, but I didn’t know it, and it spoke to me powerfully at the time. I still think it’s awfully good.
Forth in thy Name, O Lord, I go,
My daily labor to pursue;
Thee, only thee, resolved to know,
In all I think, or speak, or do.
The task thy wisdom hath assigned
O let me cheerfully fulfill;
In all my works thy presence find,
And prove thy good and perfect will.
Thee may I set at my right hand,
Whose eyes mine inmost substance see,
And labour on at thy command,
And offer all my works to thee.
Give me to bear thy easy yoke,
And every moment watch and pray,
And still to things eternal look,
And hasten to thy glorious day;
For thee delightfully employ
Whate’er thy bounteous grace hath given,
And run my course with even joy,
And closely walk with thee to heaven.