I just came across an incitefull prayer by W.E.B. Du Bois. He prayes: “The prayer of our souls this night is a petition for persistence; not the good deed, or single thought, but deed on deed, and thought on thought, until the day shall make a life worth living.”
(W.E.B. Du Bois, Prayers for Dark People, H. Aptheker, ed., Univeersity of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, 1980. 71.)
I know myself well. It is so easy for me to get excited about something, for a while. Then the newness of it wears off, the work begins, and I decide it’s time to move on to something else. That’s actually okay for some things, although it is one of the reasons that I will never write the great American novel, or play the piano well. But it’s not okay for things of real importance: friendship, my marriage, my life’s work, my faith.
We know faith requires more of us. It requires what Eugene Peterson calls “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.” We know that mature faith, deep faith, is less about searching for intense moments of spiritual fire, and more about committing to faithfulness over a lifetime.
So I hear my need expressed in Dubois’ petition.
Lord, I pray for the gift of persistence, for the wisdom to seek you always and without ceasing, in “deed on deed, thought on thought,” so that this life you have given me may be lived well.