Feb 25, 2023

Sir Jacob Astley


His prayer is famous in the annals of British history, “O Lord, Thou knowest how busy I must be this day. If I forget thee, do not forget me.”  What is striking about the prayer is that this British general entered it in his diary on the eve before the famous Battle of Edgehill in 1642.  (Edghill was the first major battle of the English Civil War).  Sir Jacob Astley (1579-1652) became a soldier at 18 and kept right on going as a career military man.  He was a leader of the British Army during the Thirty Years War and its commander in other significant battles in Europe. Sir Winston Churchill quoted from his prayer so often during the Second World War that it was falsely attributed to him.  While most of the attention of the prayer is directed to the last two lines, its primary focus seeks God’s presence in the everyday events of our lives.  Help me to hear you speaking.  Help me see you working.  Give me a heart to perceive You.  Give me insight into the true measure of things.  God’s presence is active and available to us today.  Lord, give us eyes to see and ears to hear:

Lord, help me today to realize that you will be speaking to methrough the events of this day,
through people, through things, and through all creation.
Give me ears, eyes and heart to perceive you,
however veiled that presence might be.
Give me insight to see through the exterior of things to the interior truth.
Give me a Spirit of discernment.
O Lord, you know how busy I must be this day,
If I forget you, do not forget me.

Rev. Dr. Peter James served 42 years as the senior of Vienna Presbyterian Church in Vienna, VA — 21 years in the 20th century and 21 years in the 21st century. He retired in 2021 and now serves as Pastor-in-Residence at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

Even as a pastor, prayer came slowly to Pete. Read Pete’s story.