Archive E.J. Hutchinson Nota Bene Reformed Irenicism

“This Is the Whole Duty of Man”: A Reformed Guide to Private Devotion (3)

In today’s post we have the next section in the German Reformed Church’s “Guide to Private Devotion,” on the topic of the day’s duties. 

Two of the Scripture sentences are from Ecclesiastes, a book that does indeed have much to say about a theology of vocation, including guidance as to how to weigh the ultimate importance of our daily work when viewed in the light of eternity, and how our earthly existence ought to relate to the fear of the Lord. 

The sentence from Colossians 3 furthers the theme of our daily tasks in the light of Christ, for it integrates those tasks into the baptized character of Christian work–“do all in the name of the Lord Jesus”–as well as into a eucharistic pattern of gratitude for our daily blessings (“giving thanks”).

Finally, one will notice that the first prayer incorporates elements from the lovely Collect for Grace from the Book of Common Prayer’s service of Morning Prayer.

When Entering on the Duties of the Day.

I must work the works of him that sent me while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.–John ix. 4.

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, whither thou goest.–Eccles. ix. 10. 

Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.–Eccles. xii. 13.

Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.–Col. iii. 17.

Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.–Matt. xxvi. 41.

O LORD GOD ALMIGHTY, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day, defend me by Thy power; guard me against sin and error; and so order the events of my life, and so sanctify my thoughts and deeds, that they may promote Thy glory, and the welfare of my fellowmen, through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

ENABLE ME, O LORD, by Thy heavenly grace to discharge the duties of this day with supreme regard to Thy glory; to withstand its temptations with Christian courage; to submit to its trials with humble resignation; knowing that all things are from eternity foreseen and ordained by Thine infinite wisdom and mercy, and must work together for good to those that love Thee.

DIRECT ME, O LORD, in all my doings, with Thy most gracious favor, and further me with Thy continual help; that in all my works, begun, continued, and ended in Thee, I may glorify Thy holy name, and finally, by Thy mercy, attain everlasting life: through Jesus Christ our Lord.

By E.J. Hutchinson

E.J. Hutchinson is Assistant Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College.