As Christian leaders, a vibrant spiritual life is vital and for most people, does not come easily. As a person who tends to be unstructured by personality, I have found it helpful in my life to add some structure to my spiritual life to help keep my centered in Christ and continually moving toward accomplishment of His purpose.

One of the places I have found helpful structure for my life is in the spiritual disciplines and writings of earlier generations of Christian leaders. Recently I came across an old book printed in 1949 called A Diary of Private Prayer, by John Baillie. He was a seminary professor and leader in the Church of Scotland in the early 20th century. This little book is a treasure trove of spiritual depth and a structure for personal prayer. Below is one of Baillie’s morning prayers called, My First Thought. Praying this prayer today has profoundly impacted my spiritual focus, and I wanted to share it with you.

“Eternal Father of my soul, let my first thought today be of You, let my first impulse be to worship You, let my first speech be Your name, let my first action be to kneel before You in prayer.

         For Your perfect wisdom and perfect goodness:

         For the love with which You love mankind:

         For the love with which You love me:

         For the great and mysterious opportunity of my life.

         For the indwelling of Your Spirit in my heart:

         For the sevenfold gifts of Your Spirit:

         I praise and worship You, O Lord.

         Yet let me not, when this morning prayer is said, think my worship ended and spend the day in forgetfulness of You, O Lord. Rather from these moments of quietness let light go forth, and joy, and power, that will remain with me through all the hours of the day;

         Keeping me chaste in thought:

         Keeping me temperate and truthful in speech:

         Keeping me faithful and diligent in my work:

         Keeping me humble in my estimation of myself:

         Keeping me honorable and generous in my dealings with others:

         Keeping me loyal to every hallowed memory of the past:

         Keeping me mindful of my eternal destiny as a child of Yours.

 Through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

Sometimes it helps to move outside of our normal routine in connecting with God and trying something new. Soon another year will draw to a close and we will look back, celebrating accomplishments, praising God for His good gifts, as well as wishing some things would have gone differently. Let today be the day we turn to God anew, leaning fully into His grace and love, asking for His strength to grow more in His likeness and lead well in all He has given us to do. Merry Christmas!

By: Rick Dunn