Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Reward

Thursday, September 22, 2011 -- Week of Proper 20, Year One
Philander Chase, Bishop of Ohio and Illinois, 1852

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 984)
Psalms [83], or 116, 117 (morning)      85, 86 (evening)
2 Kings 9:1-16
1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

"Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them..."  

Today's reading from Matthew urges us to orient our alms giving, our prayer and our acts of fasting toward God, not toward other human beings, "in order to be seen by them."

Robert J. Wicks is a clinical psychologist who teaches pastoral counseling.  He writes this:
For years I would read the Scriptures and quietly pray that I could be more obedient to God, more single-hearted.  For years I would pray that I could be enthusiastic, rather than exhibitionistic, achievement-oriented rather than competitive.  For years, being an impetuous person, I would pray that I wood not be swayed by people's reactions -- positive or negative -- or be a victim of my insecurities and needs to be liked, but only be concerned with doing God's will.  And for years the sense I received in prayer was simply: "Just do my will; it is enough."  And to this I would always reply in a very down-to-earth way:  "It's easy for you to say!  I just can't do it.  It's not enough for me.  I need a reward.  If it's not people's good thoughts, if it's not the applause, if it's not my image, then I must have something.

Then once day, when I was praying for something else, I sensed a response not only to this request, but also finally to my original one as well.  The impression I had was this:  "You have asked that you not be concerned with your image or success but only with my will; your prayer will be answered now."  To this I became anxious and was even sorry I had prayed for help at all.  I was concerned that with the gift more would be asked of me  (My lack of faith and sinfulness continues to astound and almost overwhelm me.)  Yet, this insecurity did not dispel the sense I had of God's presence.  And the impression I had of the Lord's response continued clearly in the following manner:  "If you seek to do my will and focus only on it and not your success or the way people respond, you will find you won't have to worry about whether or not you are accepted and loved by others.  You shall have another reward that will make you secure -- in every lecture, in every therapy hour, in every encounter on the street, when you only concern yourself with doing my will and forget about the reactions or results, you will be in the Presence of the Spirit.  . . . Is that enough?"
(Living Simply in an Anxious World, Paulist, 1988, p. 54-55)


Audio podcast:  Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week.  Click the following link:
Morning Reflection Podcasts

About Morning Reflections
"Morning Reflections" is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at -- Click for online Daily Office
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site at this location -- --  Click for Divine Hours

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

See our Web site at

Our Rule of Life: 
We aspire to...
    worship weekly
    pray daily
    learn constantly
    serve joyfully 
    live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas


At 8:58 PM, Anonymous janet said...


A simple poem I remembered when reading your comments this morning.

Ending line where there is God there is nothing lacking.



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