Forgetting God and Learning How to Avoid it

Something I've prayed this week:

Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (Prayer for the Fourth Sunday of Advent from The Book of Common Prayer)

Yesterday I was supposed to deliver a check for my wife. When I was pushing our kids in the swing before supper (yes, less fortunate ones in other places, it was 75 degrees here in Mid-December), I reached in my pocket and found the check I had forgotten about. I told her, and it didn't surprise her for one obvious reason: I forget stuff. A lot.

As I've embarked on this project of living prayerfully throughout this year (part of which involves using guides for prayer), I've been surprised to notice how often forgetting comes up in these prayers that I'm following. Just in the last couple of weeks, the prayers have included:

"We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may not forget you..."

"... yet I do not forget your law..."

"...grant that we may never forget that our common life depends upon each other's toil..."

It's humbling to the extreme to pause and think about how often I forget God. I guess that takes some definition, because not forgetting God certainly has to mean something other than to have every thought of every moment be, "GOD GOD GOD GOD GOD."

Perhaps the best description I know of what it means to not forget God is in part of another prayer to which I've been taken often in this experiment:

...And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies, that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up our selves to your service, and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days...

Reflecting on how well I live that is not only humbling to the extreme, but even makes my eyes feel a bit watery. Using the language of the prayer, God's mercies to me are immense and never-ending. My awareness of them, gratitude for them, and the resulting kind of life that I live falls far short of what I would like for it to be.

But I don't say that to beat myself up about it. Rather, I just don't want to forget. I want to learn to forget God less and less and live ever more aware of his mercies toward me and toward all of us.

In the beginning of this project, I was a bit apprehensive about what it would be like to keep up with these commitments of praying four times per day, and including three kinds of prayer each day. In my fourth week of doing so, it's the greatest anti-forgetting practice I've ever tried.

[This is the 9th post from A Year of Living Prayerfully.]