A Prayer of Thomas Merton

Thomas MertonMy 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.

Thomas Merton

I am not a great expert in the life or writings of Thomas Merton, but this famous prayer of his has struck a note in me ever since I first heard it. For me it sums up the delicate tip toeing approach I take in trying to understand the will of God in my life. It seems to me that many who choose not to follow Jesus, believe that those of us who do have some sort of direct line to God, on which He directs every detail of our lives. It has never been like that for me, and I don’t believe that there is even one single will God has for me. I have always seen God’s will as being like a motorway way rather than a single track. God’s guidelines being that I might not stray of either side of the motorway, but that I can choose the lane that seems right to me, a route that would please Him. This is probably why Merton’s prayer is one I can say so readily, particularly at this stage of my walk. The next month should by rights be a month that I am dreading. Within the family we have school exams, college exams, a house move, completion of essays and much more besides. All this potential stress because I chose to follow a route that I believe is part of God’s will for my life, and yet I cannot have certainty that it actually is. It’s not a moment of doubt, because actually I am not dreading the next month. I am excited about the possibilities and actually have a huge amount of peace about our future. Perhaps that’s because ‘the desire to please’ God ‘does in fact please’ Him.

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