A Prayer for Godly Living
George Everard, 1885
"Teach me to do the thing that pleases You, for You are my God. Let Your loving Spirit lead me forth unto the land of righteousness." Psalm 143:10
It has always seemed to me that a godly life is here put before us in a very attractive form. It is not put as a performance of certain duties. It is not simply obedience to God's command. It is pleasing a kind and merciful Father. And there is a joy in doing this. A child who loves a parent finds a delight in pleasing such a one, and receiving the tokens of his approbation. And if you love your Father in Heaven, you will be able to please Him, and He will show His acceptance of your efforts, and by fresh tokens of His love encourage you to serve Him still more perfectly.
It was Christ's joy thus to please the Father. See what He says: "He who sent Me is with me; the Father has not sent Me alone, for I always do those things which please Him" (John 8:29).
Will you not make this your aim, and thus follow in His footsteps? It is no hard bondage, but a path of true peace and blessing, to please Him whose name is Love.
It is this to which Paul exhorted the Thessalonian Christians (1 Thessalonians 4:1). We "exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as you have received of us how you ought to walk and please God, so you would abound more and more."
If you wish to please God, you must put your whole confidence in the Lord Jesus. Nothing is more pleasing to the Father, than when He sees you trusting His Son. Therefore trust Jesus to cleanse you in His blood and to keep you from all sin. Trust Him to help you in school work and in the daily crosses you have to bear. Trust Him about everything — about the least and greatest matters that concern you. This honors Christ more than anything, and therefore pleases the Father. "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him." Hebrews 11:6
Then, if you wish to please God, remember you may do so in everything. Every time you kneel down and offer your morning or evening prayer, every time you go to Church or your School Chapel, every bit of Latin or Greek you have to translate, every sum you do, every act of kindness to another — yes, and every meal you enjoy and every walk you take — in everything you may please God, if you desire to please Him, and endeavor to do all for His glory. Some people are very hard to please, even if you do your best. But your Heavenly Father delights to accept anything you do as service to Him, if only you love and fear Him. And here is your truest happiness —
"The truest will is God's own will;
Rest on this anchor and be still:
For peace around your path shall flow
While only seeking here below
What pleases God."
But if you wish to please God, He will give abundant aid and strength. We are reminded of this by the prayer which is here put into our lips. "Teach me to do the thing that pleases You; . . . let Your loving Spirit lead we forth into the land of righteousness." You will not be left to yourself. His own loving Spirit will teach and lead you. All along your pilgrimage, the Comforter will direct and strengthen you until you are done with sin and the world, and reach the land where evil can find no entrance.
There are many ways in which the Spirit will thus assist you. He will give you a quick sight to discern the least sin, wherever it may attack you. He will put you on your guard against temptation before it comes. He will give a desire to do what is right, and then add the power and perseverance needful to fulfill it. He will enlighten you in the fuller knowledge of God's precepts, and transform you in heart and spirit to walk in Christ's footsteps. He will remind you of a duty you have forgotten, or of a vow you have failed to keep. He will remove hindrances out of your path, and make your way plain before your face.
Touching this point, Dr. Kay gives an interesting translation of the latter part of the prayer we are considering: "Let Your Spirit lead me along a level land." Surely this is no slight benefit, when the Spirit casts away stumbling-blocks out of our path. He removes a doubt that has crept into the heart — or gives a clearer view of the right course when one duty seems to conflict with another, and both we cannot perform.
Then, too, it is the Spirit who draws the heart back to God when something for a moment has turned you aside. It is the Spirit who helps the Christian in prayer, and enables him to realize the nearness of Christ, and stirs him up to faith and earnestness. It is the Spirit who meets the servant of the Lord when he is sorely cast down, and by some word of promise sends him on his way rejoicing.
Without the aid of the Holy Spirit, you never could please God even for a moment — but by His grace you may please Him more and more until your life's end.
My young friend, are you striving to please God? Have you been trying to do so this past week? What about Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and the other days of last week? What witness do they bear about this matter? Be not content with following the stream, and getting through your work because you do not wish to make trouble for yourself. Rise higher than this. Day by day make it your distinct purpose to please God, and where you fail, own it, and seek the free forgiveness which God ever waits to give.
Be sure of this — unless you please God on earth, you cannot be with Him in Heaven. You could not be fit for His presence, neither would it give you joy to be with One whom you had never loved or served below. Therefore do not please yourself. Do not make it your chief aim to please your masters, or even your parents. But every day and every hour seek to please God.
"So we make it our goal to please Him!" 2 Corinthians 5:9