Challenging Prayers

When we pray, what do we look for? A reward? Consolation? Guidance? And the prayer itself that we pray: does it express the language of love? Or praise? Or warning? Or even a veiled threat? (“…thy just punishments…”) For myself, some of my favorite prayers are the ones that directly challenge me and my world view, of how I think I should be following Christ, or how I think God should be at work in the world. As challenging prayers go, the following one by the Jesuit priest Teihard de Chardin is my favorite. I send it along to you for your reflection. And I ask you to send me your favorite prayer, especially if it is challenging one!

“Above all, trust in the slow work of God.

We are quite naturally impatient in everything

to reach the end without delay.

We should like to skip the intermediate stages.

We are impatient of being on the way to something

unknown, something new.

And yet it is the law of all progress

that it is made by passing through

some stages of instability—

and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you;

your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,

let them shape themselves, without undue haste.

Don’t try to force them on,

as though you could be today what time

(that is to say, grace and circumstances

acting on your own good will)

will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit

gradually forming within you will be.

Give Our Lord the benefit of believing

that his hand is leading you,

and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself

in suspense and incomplete.”

― Pierre Teilhard de Chardin