This week I met a delightful man who said he wasn't religious. For most of his life he dug graves or tended to graveyards. That was his job. Now that he's retired he looks after his local churchyard. It's immaculate! He does it so that it will look nice for those paying their respects.
He's not religious but he does pray. He told me he prays this prayer throughout each day. He knows it by heart and keeps a copy in the drawer where he keeps his wallet and phone. He prays throughout the day and every time he opens the drawer to get his phone or wallet, he sees the prayer, he says the prayer.
teach me to be generous;
teach me to serve You as You deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labour and not to ask for reward
save that of knowing I am doing Your Will.
The prayer is generally attributed to Ignatius, Whether he wrote it or not, we don't know. It first appeared as a prayer used by French Scouts. Some think it was first penned by "someone who used to work with youth ...". It's been sung, translated, loved, cherished, learned & recited by many, often.
And the man, who describes himself as 'not religious', is generous, does serve, gives, fights, toils and labours without recognition or reward. There are wonderful people all around.
Maybe I need a drawer of prayers, or to pray every time I pick up my phone or pay for something. Or maybe, in the vernacular of my new friend, I need to be a little less religious and a little more prayerful.
And all this reminded me of an elderly lady I met a coupe of days earlier, who said, "I don't pray, not really. I just chat to God a lot."