the desire to please you

the desire to please you

A prayer from Thomas Merton:

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 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, I will 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.

I had never seen this prayer quoted before, but now I have “happened” upon it twice in three weeks! Three weeks ago, I used it in my eulogy for a ninety-two year-old retired music teacher and unretired Christian who had it cut and pasted into the front cover of his Bible. And today I read it again quoted as an afterword to a book entitled Listening Hearts, a book about discerning the call of God and the role of community in discerning call and supporting ministry.

It is a wonderfully humble and wonderfully hopeful prayer!

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.

There is much that we do not know and much that we will never know. And it is true that even when we want more than anything else to do what God wants, we may struggle with knowing just what that is or how to do it. But if wanting itself matters … If it is our passion itself that pleases God … If it is our love itself that honors God … May it be so! And may we love God with all our heart minds and strength!

And may we walk side by side with our Christian sisters and brothers with this prayer on our lips, because if we do, if we come to our common Christian enterprise with this kind of humility, with this kind of passion, with this kind of trust, there will be little to drive us apart, and much to hold us together. I do not stand over against you or your values or your opinions, but with you in our common desire to please God, as we acknowledge to ourselves and to each other that even in our zeal we are not always certain of the way!

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