Faith, Prayer and Service

Hickey, Margaret

  • Margaret Hickey recalls her childhood when her father read the Bible to the famiy, and describes how her faith must be an active one of service.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Margaret Hickey has made a career of encouraging women to bring the full use of their talents and skills into public and private life. In her own activities, she has set an impressive example. They include, among many others, the American National Red Cross, the International Development Board of the Point Four Program, and the United Nations. These are some of the things Margaret Hickey has come to believe in her busy life.
When I was a child, my father used to gather us all, my mother, my sister, and my brothers, to read us his favorite passages
from the Bible. Although we sometimes resented this break in our personal activities, we loved to hear his deep, rich voice giving meaning and beauty to the familiar verses. Somehow just hearing them in that intimate family circle gave them something I could never get from my Sunday school lessons or sermons. And when Father finished, we would all sit for a few moments of silent prayer, turning over in our minds the words he had read, asking that we, too, might be able to go forth in wisdom and in strength. This was our quiet time together.
I’ve always tried to keep this quiet time for myself each day. I believe it has given me the strength to overcome disappointment, the humility to accept success, and it has always reinforced my faith in the nearness of God. But faith for me must also be active; it must
be put to work. Religion, I believe, is not simply being the kind of person worthy of God’s blessings. It is rather doing the things which God will bless. High on my list of these things is direct personal service to others, and no matter how inconspicuous, I believe these personal efforts are essential. My own life’s work, I know, has been enriched by seeking not my will, but being able to pray sincerely, “Thy will be done.”
I found, however, that as life gathers pace, and especially for a woman who must often manage home and job, these two necessities of my faith, prayerful reflection and service to others, become more and more difficult to achieve. There are so many things to be done, so
many things to be read, to be said. It’s hard to take time when demands press from all sides. Yet when I fail to do so, my work suffers, my temper sharpens, and a kind of spiritual poverty begins for me. Things go wrong. But when I return to my daily stint of prayer and neighborliness, I find new confidence, not only in myself, but faith in what others can do. The irritations grow less. Teamwork is easier to achieve. During these quiet times, when the clamor of outside voices is shut out, inspiration comes. I become more sensitive to the problems of others and always return to my own problems refreshed in body and renewed in spirit.
Since so much of my time must be given to my work, I must find in the small tasks at hand the chance to grow spiritually—perhaps a more cheerful good morning, the willingness to hear out, with patience, another’s problem, the effort
to catch another’s point of view. And often, too, the discipline is a difficult one. Long hours must be put into my work; leisure must be sacrificed. But thanks to my father’s ability to make prayer and the Bible a beautiful personal experience of my childhood, there are verses which have stuck in my memory, like Paul’s letter to the Philippians: “And this I pray, that your love may abound, yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent.”
There is the creed of Margaret Hickey of St. Louis, Missouri, public affairs editor of the Ladies Home Journal. Upon these solid principles, she bases a life of outstanding service to her community, her country, and the world.