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A Prayer that Anyone Can Pray
There are a handful of poems and some prayers I have committed to memory. And there’s a couple I carry with me every day. One of the prayers I’ve kept in a little notebook I carry every day was written by Thomas Merton back in 1958.
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” Amen.
—from Thoughts in Solitude (1958)
It’s been called a prayer that anyone can pray.
I found this prayer back in 2002 while seeking to know God’s will. At the time I had just transitioned away from being a pastor and was (for a time) working in the for-profit world of business. I worked with the rapidly changing printing industry. It was changing because printing companies were rebranding themselves as communications companies for a new digital age. It was exciting work and yet I missed being a pastor and often questioned God’s will for my life. Was I ever going to pastor again?
Around this time, I discovered the brilliant Christian author Thomas Merton (who had actually died the year before I was born). He was a Trappist monk who wrote some profound books on spirituality. Some of his writings have been called the greatest spiritual writing of the 20th century.
One of his most popular books is The Seven Storey Mountain, which is basically a story of a man falling in love with God. It has been called a modern-day version of Augustine’s Confessions.
My personal favorite book by Merton is called The Sign of Jonas, which was for me an extraordinary cultural and spiritual education. I’ve often said it was the help I didn’t know I needed. And over the years, I have given away several copies of this book to friends.
And the prayer (above) that I am recommending to you came from a really good little book called Thoughts in Solitude. When I first read it, the words of this prayer felt like they came from my own soul, and I remember deeply resonating with this prayer at the time.
Help from Written Prayers
Over the years, when I’ve felt uncertainty and anxiety creeping in, I’ve returned to these words often. When I read it, I’m aware that I am in prayer—communing with my God—who never leaves me to face my perils alone. Sometimes written prayers (both ancient and recent) have been a big help for me in my time with God in prayer.
May the Lord bless you and yours during these uncertain days. I warmly recommend the prayer of Thomas Merton to you.
Pastor Aaron Kunce
- A Terrific Prayer for Uncertain, Anxious Times Like These || Guest Post by Pastor Aaron Kunce - March 19, 2020
- An Ancient Christian Symbol of Love || Guest Post by Aaron Kunce - February 13, 2020
- What is it That Keeps You from Love? || Guest Post by Aaron Kunce - February 12, 2020