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Pascal's Prayer

By Pastor Phillip Howle
web posted December 3, 2014

RELIGION – I came across an awesome little prayer this week from a really interesting guy by the name of Blaise Pascal. He was a super smart 17th-century intellectual. Pascal made significant contributions in the fields of science and mathematics, so I read. I have not studied his work in that area. Amazingly, back then he established the groundwork for the development of mechanical calculators (thank the Lord) and modern hydraulic operations.

Thankfully as a young man, Pascal had a profound encounter with Jesus Christ. This life-changing experience motivated him to refocus his study from science and math to theology. This is where my study of him picks up. He is most noted for his “wager.”

The idea of the Wager is that, according to Pascal, one cannot come to the knowledge of God’s existence through reason alone, so the wise thing to do is to live your life as if God does exist because such a life has everything to gain and nothing to lose. If we live as though God exists, and He does indeed exist, we have gained heaven. If He doesn’t exist, we have lost nothing. If, on the other hand, we live as though God does not exist and He really does exist, we have gained hell and punishment and have lost heaven and bliss. If one weighs the options, clearly the rational choice to live as if God exists is the better of the possible choices.  That is pretty well put.

But as insightful as that is, Pascal wrote a remarkable prayer that I came across this morning. He prayed: “Lord, help me to do great things as though they were little, since I do them with Your power; and little things as though they were great, since I do them in Your name.”Of course Pascal’s prayer is profoundly scriptural. Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13) and admonishes us that “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). Pascal echoes these admonitions to depend upon God for His power and to view every act as important, since it will reflect on His glory.

So here is the takeaway for me and you: the next time you face a huge task, remember that God is your strength.  When the Angel Gabriel came to Mary to tell her that she would be pregnant with the Son of God even as a virgin, she made one of my favorite professions of faith in the whole Scripture in Luke 1:37-38 she says “For nothing will be impossible with God."  (38)  And Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.”Always keep in mind nothing is impossible for God! God is bigger and greater than any obstacle that we can ever face.

Of course the reality is that most of our days we are not facing impossible odds, but we are facing lots of little choices. We do lots of little things that may seem very mundane, but the last phrase of Pascal’s prayer challenges us to give importance to those small matters, because whatever we do, we do in the name of God.  The quality of your day and your life is really the sum total of all the small decisions that you make each and every day. How would day and life change to seek to include God in each and every one of them? So think about God before you speak, spend, snack, slack off, or skip church (sorry for the alliteration).

Pray this little prayer during your celebration of Christmas and see what doors may open for you and what a daily difference it can make in your life.

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