My Father Owns the Cattle on a Thousand Hills

Today’s blog shares with you three mantras which come into my life every day.

“This is the day the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice in it.”  (Psalm 118:24 ESV) This is the mantra with which my wife Miran and I begin every morning.  It jolts us to several Merton Prayer realities:  God is in control, He knows which road we need to follow, we don’t even know ourselves, He will lead us on the right road even though we may not even begin to understand why it is the right road, He is with us every step of the journey, and He will never leave us to face the dangers and perils which we will encounter.

Often, giving vent to my well-known goofy side, the next mantra I cite was learned from my father when I was a young child: “every day above ground is a gift from the Lord, so thank you Lord for allowing me to have another day of life.”  Sometimes I share this latter lighter mantra with a stranger, say the person in line next to me at the check-out counter, and many times a delightful spontaneous conversation erupts, often with the store cashier joining in also.  Other times the stranger gives me a look of pity and turns away, clearly not interested in chatting with me!

Ever since my 2017 bout with deadly cancer, these two mantras have meant so much more to me.  I literally thank God every day for extended life.  “So, Steven, what are you going to do with this gift from God of one more day of extended life?”  As I write these words it is 4:30am, I look out my window and the sky is pitch dark, I see maybe three windows lit in the 20 story apartment building a block away from me, my wife is in California with our new granddaughter, the condo could not be quieter (save for the quarter-hour ringing of the Grandmother Clock, not to be confused with a Grandfather Clock!), and once again I come face-to-face with “Lord, why did you allow me to have an extended life?”  I hope I do not waste this day.

After breakfast I will walk the two blocks to my office, spend two hours with Ed and Kevin the junior members of the Cutie Pie (Senior) Lawyers Club.  These spiritual companions usually go deeper in our conversation and friendship than most of my acquaintances.  I am always enriched by my time with them.  Then at 11:00am I will spend at least one hour with my co-counsel Michael working on our cases which are either in suit or being prepared for suit.  This afternoon I hope to relax at home while watching some of the March Madness basketball games, rooting for my Kentucky Wildcats to go further in the tourney this year than they did last year when they lost the first game [who had heard of the St. Peter Peacocks?]!  Tonight, I will enjoy attending a birthday dinner honoring my friend Richard and my extravertive side will delight in meeting new people and connecting with known friends. 

At various times during this day, as with every day of my life, I will be tempted to ruminate and worry about many things confronting me and some family members.  I forget the blog I wrote on December 4, 2022, titled “Worry and worship cannot coexist,” and I find myself allowing fear to creep in to my psyche. This is when my third daily mantra is so helpful.  My Father Owns the Cattle on a Thousand Hills.  My annual income as a plaintiff’s trial lawyer is either feast or famine. One year when my adjusted gross income was -$14,000 I had a memorable conversation with my three young children.  I told them we would have to cut back on unnecessary spending this year since my income was so low.  I wanted my kids to not be afraid, to trust the Lord, so I adapted the words of Psalm 50:10 with my words of reassurance, “Kids please don’t worry since God has always provided for us.  I choose not to ever worry about finances, since My Father Owns the Cattle on a Thousand Hills“; to which my eldest Katrina said, “Does Granddaddy Denny own a farm in Kentucky?”  Stifling laughter I calmly said, “well, it sort of does mean that, but not a real farm with real cows!”

Yes, every day above ground can be a very good day, I am required by my Lord to rejoice and be glad in this day, and when tempted to worry about some of life’s problems I will recall just how much God has blessed me, over and over and over and over.  Recounting those blessings will indeed bring me to an attitude of worship rather than worry.  May my three mantras be a blessing to you today and every day!

[NOTE:  If your organization, church, or school would like a workshop/presentation on The Merton Prayer please email me at  I can Zoom all over the world and have done 90-minute, 3 hour, 5 hour, weekend, or five-day workshops/retreats.]

Leave a comment, if you wish, regarding this post or how you found The Merton Prayer and why it is important to you.  Thanks for visiting!

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