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This Day


Matthew had some strong ideas about prayer. It is in his book that we find the Lord’s Prayer, also known as “The Swiss Army Knife of Prayers.” This particular prayer, according to Matthew (who should know about such things), is the Alpha and the Omega of prayers. He stresses this when he writes in Matthew 6:9-6:13, “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven….

Of late, and for obvious reasons, I’ve become more likely to pray than to curse. Indeed my new program is to swap a prayer for a curse whenever I find I’ve slipped into the cursing mode.

In a world that is accursed putting more curses into it is never a good idea. We are full up at present. No shortage of curses that I can see. Still, slipping into the cursing mode is easy to do in today’s world. We’re encouraged to do it by the very nature of the secular society.

Add to that my thirty-year stint in New York City where the standard reaction to almost any event is either a curse that involves the middle initial of the Savior (Just what does that “H.” stand for anyway?), or the invocation of unnamed males who have an affinity for crude sex only with females of the motherly persuasion, and you’ve got, when it comes to my ability and propensity to curse, one crude mother…

It’s a bad habit and one that I am trying to break. One way is, whenever I catch myself in an angry cursing moment, to recite a prayer instead. And the goto prayer in these multiple moments is always the Lord’s. It’s brief. It’s beautiful. I can say it at high speed and by rote.

Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day…

The Lord’s Prayer also has a hidden benefit. It has, at its core, one simple but profound request:

“Give. Us. This. Day.”

That’s it. That’s the real core of all prayers. That is the one request of the Lord without which nothing else matters. That is what all our past, lost days flow towards and which all our future hoped-for days flow from. Without the gift of “This Day” the ones that have passed have no meaning and the ones that are to come have no potentiality. Both are but abstractions or, as the poet has it:

What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.

Which is a fancy way of saying that without the gift of this day being given us all else is lost. Secular thinkers speak of this as being “in the now” as if “being here now” was all that it took to be really alive.

I lived in that pop-cult fauxworld for years before escaping and, looking back, I seem to remember it not as replete with luminous headlands overlooking the sea, but as the shadowlands that loom beyond a darker border. It was neither a gift nor a curse, a burden or a blessing. It simply was and, as a result, was rather unremarkable.

That secular world originated out of nothing, out of the limited imagination of the noosphere and, with no reach beyond itself, existed closer to the Alpha than to the Omega. It had, as secular things often do, a tangle of bright, shiny deceivers clustered around its non-belief like gnats outside a privy, but when you arrived at the center it had nothing to say about tomorrow, and very little to promise about this day other than that it would be roughly similar to yesterday. There was little inscape and no escape. Its “Now” was always the same day, neither given nor taken but simply existing. It was the kind of day in which the existence of the Human and the existence of Planaria was essentially equal. I, for one, would rather ask for my day than simply arrive in it.

This is why, when I pray the Lord’s Prayer, I always pause — at the very least — when I come to the phrase, “Give us this day.” And in that pause, I remember another phrase derived from scripture, “Tomorrow is not promised.”

I once knew that phrase, “Tomorrow is not promised,” in a rather dry, academic, vaguely poetic manner. Now, having had my all my tomorrows removed and then miraculously restored, I understand the phrase down to the marrow of my bones. Coming into this day I always ask “Give us this day.” Departing the day I find I return to the early litanies of childhood, “I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake….”

But then, so far, I do wake and I continue in my project to replace curses with prayers. I’m not very good at it yet. Still fairly shaky. Then again, as another poet tells me,

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

The Lord give me (and give you) This Day.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Sisu October 31, 2021, 8:09 AM

    Verses 12 and 13 are integral to the everlasting life which one should not forget. Verse 12 know is a challenge, perhaps unattainable standard. Verse 13 an acknowledgement that “this day” is not the be all and end all.

  • Mary Ann October 31, 2021, 8:12 AM

    Thank you.

  • LadyBikki October 31, 2021, 8:13 AM


  • Dennis October 31, 2021, 8:16 AM

    There is only now but I have difficulty staying in the day.
    I know it but have to ask to be given this day.

  • patvann October 31, 2021, 9:52 AM

    As as happened several times while being a reader of this site… A post came as needed, for today. Even if again. It was needed.

  • Janet A. Roesler October 31, 2021, 10:05 AM

    If that verse were written in plainer, contemporary English, it would say, “This day, give us our daily bread,” or “Give us our daily bread today,” not “Give us this day.” But it’s a lovely idea, and theologically sound.

  • Terry October 31, 2021, 10:29 AM

    I too have been trying to eliminate cursing for about six months now. Then all of a sudden “F**ck J*e B**en becomes a new national motto over night.

    Should I join in or just laugh about it-

    • PA Cat October 31, 2021, 11:38 AM

      Just replace it with “Let’s go, Brandon!”

    • Wilbur November 2, 2021, 10:41 AM

      That’s what “Lets Go Brandon” is for.

  • julie October 31, 2021, 10:47 AM

    One of my favorites, and a thought I have kept in mind whenever I mindfully pray the Our Father, ever since you first wrote it. Thanks, Gerard, and may this day be blessed.

  • Kevin in PA October 31, 2021, 10:53 AM

    Yes, this one and The Star are among my favorites.
    ….but what about the book, Gerard?

  • gwbnyc October 31, 2021, 11:40 AM

    -each day given.

    I’m associated with a group of people where this is invoked on occasion.

    As to bread, I’ll buy a hard-crusted, air-gapped loaf and halve it, saving one and placing the other on a worn breadboard, a favorite, with a particular knife and large mug, itself a favorite, of coffee along. The whole attended by a chosen striped napkin, rather a dish towel. Then I cut and eat the bread slowly, in silence.

    -aside, wondering about intelligent design now and then the example, simply, of bread gives me pause.

    • Mike Austin October 31, 2021, 1:17 PM

      Arguments in favor of, and against, Intelligent Design have taken up hundreds of books. Most of the points on both sides deal with extremely complicated chemical compounds and formulae, and complex biological processes. I don’t pretend to understand them; but then I don’t have to. If you must read just one book on the subject, then I recommend Michael Behe’s “Darwin’s Black Box”.

      Of course we can simply dismiss those who deny Scripture—all those annoying atheists, all those pesky agnostics, all those who could not care less—and repeat as needed, “I know it’s true because the Bible tells me so!” That certainly works for me, but will have no effect upon unbelievers except to induce laughter. A proper Christian apologist will have a firm understanding of Darwin and his acolytes; will be well-versed in Biblical and Ancient History and apologetics; will understand the arguments against and in favor of Intelligent Design. This takes time—actually, a great deal of time—and so a young man might struggle with the abundance of necessary material.

      But in the end none of this matters much. When we depart this life we have it on good authority—actually, on the best authority—that Christ will ask you if you had fed the hungry, clothed the naked and defended the widow and her children. He will not have any interest in how well you understand Intelligent Design or Darwinism.

      Upon your answer rests Eternity.

      • Bruceph October 31, 2021, 5:01 PM

        The problem with evolution is as I understand it is that is assumes its conclusion, it ‘begs the question’. There is no evidence found of a thing ‘becoming’ something else. The thing that it is claimed to have become is already there in the first place. The same is true of the abortion ‘debate’, a natural outgrowth of this type of thinking. The position of the hands on a clock, the date on a calendar, and a roll of the dice don’t provide a change in the state of being any more than a caterpillar and a butterfly are different. The butterfly is built into the caterpillar. Were this not true, what’s to say a caterpillar wouldn’t ‘evolve’ into a bee, or a chickadee? Or a Harvard grad?
        HT: Dr. Bill Marra, (d. 1998) of happy memory.

        • Mike Austin October 31, 2021, 11:42 PM

          No one disputes microevolution, where one species exhibits certain changes over a short period of time that are visible. But the species remains what it was. But when Darwinists—and there are several types of these—speak of evolution, they mean macroevolution, where one species evolves into another. And as you said, “There is no evidence found of a thing ‘becoming’ something else.” So true. No evidence whatsoever.

          The premier evolutionist was Steven Jay Gould (1941 – 2002), but even he admitted to the paucity of evidence for macroevolution.

          “…Gould proposed that the degree of gradualism commonly attributed to Charles Darwin is virtually nonexistent in the fossil record, and that stasis dominates the history of most fossil species.”

          To solve the insoluble he invented “punctuated equilibrium”, a belief that evolution happens too fast to show evidence in the fossil record. In other words, the lack of evidence is the evidence.

          Every few years Darwinists trot out some piece of tooth discovered in an obscure valley somewhere, and loudly proclaim, “We found the missing link between ape and man!” They then imagine how the rest of the jaw would look, then the head, then the entire body; then they give it a weird name, like “Australopithecus africanus”. And this entirely confected fantasy is then written up in so-called scientific journals. Then in a few years, all of this is forgotten. It is so entirely tedious.

          For just one example of how tedious and mendacious these Darwinists can be, look up “Piltdown Man”. The greatest paleontologists of the age (1912) showed how idiotic their discipline was. They were fooled for 41 years by an obvious and ridiculous fake. But then, all “evidence” for macroevolution is an obvious and ridiculous fake.

          A belief in macroevolution is really just another substitute for God. Many Darwinists out and out hate Him and will go to amazing lengths to prove that He did not create the world in six days. Their hatred has clouded their reasoning—forever.

      • gwbnyc November 1, 2021, 7:38 AM

        I described a simple circumstance, contemplative, that brings me peace and acceptance.

  • Mike Austin October 31, 2021, 12:09 PM

    The “Our Father” is indeed the perfect prayer, recommended by Christ Himself when He walked among us. I’m trying to get into the habit of praying it every morning as soon as my tired feet hit the floor. Almost there. When I forget, I hardly take two steps when I hear that small, still voice reminding me.

    • John Venlet October 31, 2021, 1:30 PM

      I’m trying to get into the habit of praying it every morning as soon as my tired feet hit the floor.

      I started doing this exact same thing a number of years ago, Mike, and that still small voice chides me if I neglect starting my day this way. I also recite Psalm 118:24 – “This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

      The recitation is relatively easy, it is the execution of it can be rather more difficult.

      • Mike Austin October 31, 2021, 1:58 PM

        Yes. Sometimes I feel that 30 years of ignoring God—in fact, hanging around with the other guy—weighs me down, oppresses me and demands that I “go with the flow” of my life when I lived it in darkness. You and I both know who is there at that moment, at my side, taunting me. I am under no illusions.

        The habit of speaking—no, screaming out—“Jesus Christ protect me!” works every, single time. We walk in the shadow of the valley of death, yet we fear no evil.

  • Bruceph October 31, 2021, 5:53 PM

    Thoughts on your essay: A pause, a deliberate cadence, upon reciting “give us this day”… rather an expression of gratitude, no? You already have the day after all and asking for something you already have, well, ‘say what?’ Traditionally, I think the request is one of justice. To give us our just reward, both now for what we have worked for [a worker would get his pay at the end of the work day] and for what we work towards [heavenly beatitude]; in wages and in what we got coming. Hence, “and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. We do not insist Our Lord betray himself that we might catch a break, because when we try to outsmart God, the jokes on us. See this link for reference. https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=miami+vice+smuggler%27s+blues+glenn+frey&ru=%2fvideos%2fsearch%3fq%3dmiami%2520vice%2520smuggler%2527s%2520blues%2520glenn%2520frey%26qs%3dMM%26form%3dQBVDMH%26sp%3d3%26pq%3dmiami%2520vice%2520%2527smu%2527%26sk%3dMM2%26sc%3d4-16%26cvid%3d340FE2C962B64C9CA24C57229E258CE3&view=detail&mid=E237FBE377353D7B1722E237FBE377353D7B1722&rvsmid=7D8AA9DBA5FFCA39758C7D8AA9DBA5FFCA39758C&FORM=VDRVRV
    Further, don’t swear. Just don’t. But when you do, as so many of us habitually do, you may have better luck making right with Mary. I think Jesus can handle us with no problem, not that He’s cool with it mind you. I mean, not cool! But when you swear JHMFC!, you offend Her the more. Just as our own mothers would be offended, hurt, scandalized when her sons talk trash… (this would be more consistently true in days gone by of course, but since it’s 2021, the ladies are often worse than the men). So, methinks it’s the ‘Hail Mary’ you really want.

    • Mike Austin October 31, 2021, 11:48 PM

      I rejoice that the Rosary contains both prayers.

  • Lance de Boyle October 31, 2021, 9:24 PM

    Read an article by a mathematical biologist about healing of superficial cuts. It took him most of a page to list all of the “steps” and chemicals and cells involved. He concluded that it would take 1 million mutations per second for 4 billion years for “evolution” to get everything in place.

    Imagine all that has to be there just right for a whole body to work. How long would it take for that to evolve by sheer chance?

    I see a huge team of biomedical engineers from the Hooters Nebula working for a thousand years.
    Mel. “Hey, Boss, this scrotum thing…”
    Boss. “What about it?”
    Mel. “Well, it’s just hanging there. The nuts have no protection.”
    Boss. “Well, let men not go around pissing off the women so they don’t get their balls kicked in.”
    Mel. “I see. Kind of like an anti-jerk feature.”
    Boss. “Something like that.”

  • ugalygirl October 31, 2021, 10:16 PM

    Ha! I do the same thing! I’ve been trying to stop cussing for several years now. Every time I slip and say a cuss word I recite the 23rd Psalm. If I think the cuss word I get to think the prayer in my head, but if I say it out loud I have to say the prayer out loud. Have to say I swear a whole lot less than I used to, still not totally reformed, although I never do it deliberately now. I also lived in New York City for several decades, and is a great training ground for cussing.

    • Mike Austin October 31, 2021, 11:53 PM

      Before coming back to Christ, I met my brother’s fiancé (1991). Years later she told me she had found me charming, but that I had the “filthiest mouth she had ever heard.”

      God has cured me of that, though I slip now and then—though never in public, thank God.

      And yes, New York “is a great training ground for cussing.” So are school classrooms and playgrounds, where I labored for 27 years.

  • Hoss November 1, 2021, 5:38 AM

    I try to begin every day with a visit to a site called” verse of the day” which leads me to a prayer thanking the lord for the day and for guidance. Today’s verse was Proverbs 27:1. I always go next to your site Gerard, and here today we have Proverbs 27:1 in your wonderful essay. I don’t try to begin to understand any supposed hidden meanings in that verse showing up back to back in at 2 different web sites. It is, as it always is, a verse to learn from through contemplation and prayer. I am like you and many posting here, fighting that battle against the unseen but surely real enemy and my propensity for cursing is but one part in the day to day fight. Thank you again for a wonderful and thought provoking site. Many good people visit here.

  • Annie Rose November 1, 2021, 7:22 AM

    I often pray throughout my day and find my faith a great comfort in these times. That being said, there is a time for praying and there is a time for proper cursing. When I feel the need to particularly curse some particularly villainous person, there is nothing better than the ancient Cursing Stone curse written by an Archbishop no less. I and my family find it most satisfactory:

    In 1525 the reivers had become such a nuisance that the then Archbishop of Glasgow, Gavin Dunbar, put a curse up all the reivers of the borderlands.

    “I curse their head and all the hairs of their head; I curse their face, their brain (innermost thoughts), their mouth, their nose, their tongue, their teeth, their forehead, their shoulders, their breast, their heart, their stomach, their back, their womb, their arms, their leggs, their hands, their feet, and every part of their body, from the top of their head to the soles of their feet, before and behind, within and without.”

    “I curse them going and I curse them riding; I curse them standing and I curse them sitting; I curse them eating and I curse them drinking; I curse them rising, and I curse them lying; I curse them at home, I curse them away from home; I curse them within the house, I curse them outside of the house; I curse their wives, their children, and their servants who participate in their deeds. I (bring ill wishes upon) their crops, their cattle, their wool, their sheep, their horses, their swine, their geese, their hens, and all their livestock. I (bring ill wishes upon) their halls, their chambers, their kitchens, their stanchions, their barns, their cowsheds, their barnyards, their cabbage patches, their plows, their harrows, and the goods and houses that are necessary for their sustenance and welfare.”

    “May all the malevolent wishes and curses ever known, since the beginning of the world, to this hour, light on them. May the malediction of God, that fell upon Lucifer and all his fellows, that cast them from the high Heaven to the deep hell, light upon them.”

    “May the fire and the sword that stopped Adam from the gates of Paradise, stop them from the glory of Heaven, until they forebear, and make amends.”

    “May the evil that fell upon cursed Cain, when he slew his brother Abel, needlessly, fall on them for the needless slaughter that they commit daily.”

    “May the malediction that fell upon all the world, man and beast, and all that ever took life, when all were drowned by the flood of Noah, except Noah and his ark, fall upon them and drown them, man and beast, and make this realm free of them, for their wicked sins.”

    “May the thunder and lightning which rained down upon Sodom and Gomorra and all the lands surrounding them, and burned them for their vile sins, rain down upon them and burn them for their open sins. May the evil and confusion that fell on the Gigantis for their opression and pride in building the Tower of Babylon, confound them and all their works, for their open callous disregard and opression.”

    “May all the plagues that fell upon Pharoah and his people of Egypt, their lands, crops and cattle, fall upon them, their equipment, their places, their lands, their crops and livestock.”

    “May the waters of the Tweed and other waters which they use, drown them, as the Red Sea drowned King Pharoah and the people of Egypt, preserving God’s people of Israel.”

    “May the earth open, split and cleave, and swallow them straight to hell, as it swallowed cursed Dathan and Abiron, who disobeyed Moses and the command of God.”

    “May the wild fire that reduced Thore and his followers to two-hundred-fifty in number, and others from 14,000 to 7,000 at anys, usurping against Moses and Aaron, servants of God, suddenly burn and consume them daily, for opposing the commands of God and Holy Church.”

    “May the malediction that suddenly fell upon fair Absolom, riding through the wood against his father, King David, when the branches of a tree knocked him from his horse and hanged him by the hair, fall upon these untrue Scotsmen and hang them the same way, that all the world may see.”

    “May the malediction that fell upon Nebuchadnezzar’s lieutenant, Olifernus, making war and savagery upon true christian men; the malediction that fell upon Judas, Pilate, Herod, and the Jews that crucified Our Lord; and all the plagues and troubles that fell on the city of Jerusalem therefore, and upon Simon Magus for his treachery, bloody Nero, Ditius Magcensius, Olibrius, Julianus Apostita and the rest of the cruel tyrants who slew and murdered Christ’s holy servants, fall upon them for their cruel tyranny and murder of Christian people.”

    “And may all the vengeance that ever was taken since the world began, for open sins, and all the plagues and pestilence that ever fell on man or beast, fall on them for their openly evil ways, senseless slaughter and shedding of innocent blood.”

    “I sever and part them from the church of God, and deliver them immediately to the devil of hell, as the Apostle Paul delivered Corinth. I bar the entrance of all places they come to, for divine service and ministration of the sacraments of holy church, except the sacrament of infant baptism, only; and I forbid all churchmen to hear their confession or to absolve them of their sins, until they are first humbled / subjugated by this curse.”

    “I forbid all christian men or women to have any company with them, eating, drinking, speaking, praying, lying, going, standing, or in any other deed-doing, under the pain of deadly sin.”

    “I discharge all bonds, acts, contracts, oaths, made to them by any persons, out of loyalty, kindness, or personal duty, so long as they sustain this cursing, by which no man will be bound to them, and this will be binding on all men.”

    “I take from them, and cast down all the good deeds that ever they did, or shall do, until they rise from this cursing.”

    “I declare them excluded from all matins, masses, evening prayers, funerals or other prayers, on book or bead (rosary); of all pigrimages and alms deeds done, or to be done in holy church or be christian people, while this curse is in effect.”

    “And, finally, I condemn them perpetually to the deep pit of hell, there to remain with Lucifer and all his fellows, and their bodies to the gallows of Burrow moor, first to be hanged, then ripped and torn by dogs, swine, and other wild beasts, abominable to all the world. And their candle (light of their life) goes from your sight, as may their souls go from the face of God, and their good reputation from the world, until they forebear their open sins, aforesaid, and rise from this terrible cursing and make satisfaction and penance.”

    • Mike Austin November 2, 2021, 10:22 AM

      Now that is one heck of a “imprecatory prayer”! Of course, half of the proverbs say something similar, but at less length. King David was fond of phrases such as:

      “…may their path be dark and slippery, with the angel of the Lord pursuing them” (Psalm 35:6) and “O God, break the teeth in their mouths; tear out the fangs of the young lions, O Lord!” (Psalm 58:6).

      Jesus was pretty good at these as well:

      “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness…Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?”—Matthew 23.

      I don’t think I would want to be on that Carpenter’s bad side. Neither on David’s.

  • SteveS. November 2, 2021, 12:29 AM

    Ah, yes. This day, this moment. It truly is what we have. Yesterday, gone, tomorrow, not yet. This day, this eternal moment,…now. It never ends does it? Truly eternal. Thank you Father for this precious day

  • AbigailAdams November 2, 2021, 9:11 PM

    Very nice, Gerard. Very nice.

    Here’s another way to pray the Lord’s prayer and turn it into a full devotional. I do this frequently as I drift off to sleep. Take each word in turn, emphasising just that word: OUR father who…. (identifies whose father is “our” father). Our FATHER who…. (places God in his exhalted position). Our father, who ART/IS. . . Well, you get the idea. I love how focused my thoughts become on each word and its meaning.

    ~Big Sis 🙂

  • Joan of Argghh! November 8, 2021, 3:35 PM

    As someone pointed out about the Our Father: “It’s about bread and debt. Can’t get more real than that.”