This prayer by Matthew Stevens encourages us in very practical ways to consider our personal integrity. It is an interrupted prayer or maybe one can call it a “paused” prayer and may be done with brief discussion or silent reflection as a response to the three questions. These three questions could also be followed by an invitation of the group to offer questions of their own to lift up issues of integrity.
Often there are two very different spiritual conversations — one is on broad and global justice themes and the other on personal piety and ethics. (In fact, a stereotype is that Christians of different theological perspectives divide along these lines.) The truth is that these are deeply connected. Matthew writes this about the origination of the prayer:
I was recently asked to design a reflective opening for a staff meeting, and I choose the word “Integrity” for the theme.
To be honest, although it was originally developed for a staff setting, I think it might easily be adopted for any collegial situation, or even within a smaller congregation. I think it important that the prayer and reflection remain integrated with each other, so it might also work for mid-week or Bible-study groups within a larger congregation.
Gracious Creator, we gather this morning as colleagues,
colleagues in what we want to believe is your work,
work that is guided by your revelations to each of us.
But, how often do our self-indulgent desires and ambitions,
wind-up replacing the practical implementation
of your initiatives for the betterment of humankind?
Routinely we select the politically acceptable reaction,
over a concerned and authentic response to your teachings,
and then wonder why we feel so ineffectual.
Patient Creator, how you must ponder about we humans,
and the way in which we permit transitory considerations,
to take precedence over our supposed resolve.
Our tendency to opt for the easy answer of ambivalence,
carefully charting a personal course of behaviour,
that scrupulously avoids taking a principled stance.
When shall we come to the unquestioning realization
that all the qualities Jesus revealed from your teachings,
can only be manifest in our commitment to integrity?
Proverbs 10:9 – Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but those who make their ways crooked will be found out.
Proverbs 11:3 – The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.
Proverbs 28:18 – Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered, but those who are crooked in their ways will suddenly fall.
What About YOUR Integrity?
If you found a wallet laying on the sidewalk, would you return it to its owner?
If one small lie on your income tax form would save you thousands of dollars, would you lie?
If you had the opportunity to cheat on a test and no one would ever know about it, would you cheat?
The way you answer these questions may reveal whether or not you regard yourself as a person of integrity.
Ever-Present Creator, we your frail creatures,
are much in need of your accompaniment and guidance,
in every decision and act to which we turn our hands.
Keep us mindful of who it is that we serve,
that you haven’t called us to the maintenance of “niceness”,
but a recommitment to, and preservation of integrity.
Moving in and through that spirit,
and directed solely by your aspirations for humanity,
may our church be a living embodiment of your kindom.