Lord, I so wish to prepare well for this time.
I so want to make all of me ready and attentive and available to you.
Please help me clarify and purify my intentions.
I have so many contradictory desires.
My activity seems to be so full of busyness and running after stuff that doesn’t really seem to matter or last.
I know that if I give you my heart whatever I do will follow my new heart.
May all that I am today, all that I try to do today, may all my encounters, reflections, even the frustrations and failings all place my life in your hands.
Lord, my life is in your hands.
Please, let this day give you praise.

This is the prayer for every day that we are offered as a model in the retreat.  I particularly resonate with the part that talks about clarifying and purifying my intentions.  I have often struggled with the reasons why I seek God.  Do I seek Him because of the peace and sense of well-being that I find in His presence or do I seek Him because He is so worthy of my seeking?  Or both?  Is it about what’s in it for me or is it about what He deserves from me?  Or both?

At the Michael Card concert that I attended last week, he talked about this very thing.  He shared that the reason that he began writing songs years ago was primarily to get the attention of a teacher whose approval he sought.  He offered his suggestion that all we have to offer God is our mixed motives.  He further suggested that we had better not wait around until our motives are completely pure to begin offering ourselves and our lives to God to use.  He believes God can use us for His Kingdom, even if our motives are less than holy.  Imperfect people with mixed motives are really all God has to work with after all.

We all laughed and nodded as he shared these insights, but the ideas have stuck with me.  For instance, I thought of them again this past Sunday when I prepared to sing during our worship service.  For years, I have prepared to sing by praying that God would use my voice to bring Him glory.  That I would sing in such a way that it would be Him who would be praised.  Yet, even as I prayed these things, I also struggled with my very human desire to do a good job so that people would think I sang well….that I had a good voice…that they would “approve” of me.  I have sometimes felt guilty for enjoying the praise that I often receive when I sing…for the pleasure I get personally when people say “that was beautiful.”  I almost quit singing in church several years ago because I was worried that my motives were not entirely pure.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe God wants me to enjoy sharing His gift that He gave me to use for Him.  I think of the line from Chariots of Fire when he says “when I run, I feel God’s pleasure.”  When I sing, I do feel God’s pleasure.  There is no greater high, other than my family, that I have experienced in life than singing during worship.  I think the sense of “rightness” we get when we do the things that God has gifted us to do is part of our confirmation from Him that we are fulfilling His purposes for us.  But, I want to get to the point in my life that only God’s approval matters to me.  But I’m not completely there yet.

I have to say that, right or wrong, I found comfort in an amazing artist and man of God like Michael Card saying that all we have to offer God is our mixed motives.  All I have to offer God is my imperfect, flawed desire to do His will.  As I seek Him for the peace and purpose I selfishly desire, I learn to love Him in a way that makes His presence my only goal….ultimately, my only motive.

Of course, this brings a song to mind!  I have a friend who says that being with me is like living in a musical….EVERYTHING reminds me of a song.  If you were here, I would sing a bit of this for you.  Instead, you will have to settle for the lyrics.  This is one of my favorite Sara Groves songs called “Know My Heart.”

Why do I pray? Do I pray to say I prayed an hour?
Why do I love? Do I want you beholden to me?
Why do I help? Do I help to hear my name called out?
And why do I sing?Chorus:
Search me and know my heart, oh God.
See if there is any wrong thing in me.
All I have ever really wanted –
Clean hands and a pure heart.Why do I give? Do I give so I can get a blessing?
Why do I praise? Do I praise to do the right thing?
Why do I serve? Do I serve so others will serve me?
And Why do I sing?

Search me and know my heart, oh God.
See if there is any wrong thing in me.
All I have ever really wanted –
Clean hands and a pure heart.