A prayer for when it’s hard to pray


St. Anselm, who wrote this prayer for friends, confessed to his own “dullness of zeal.”

This is an excerpt of a prayer from St. Anselm of Canterbury, a Benedictine monk and theologian of the late 11th and early 12th century.

The prayer is for his friends, but he speaks of something we all feel — our inadequacy when it comes to prayer. He gives voice to our feeling (the Apostles felt it too) that we must learn the “art of prayer,” and ask Jesus, as they did, “Lord, teach us to pray.”

At the same time, Anselm places all of his confidence not in his prayer, but in the One he is praying to …

My prayer is but a cold affair, Lord,
because my love burns with so small a flame,
but you who are rich in mercy
will not mete out to [my friends] your gifts
according to the dullness of my zeal,
but as your kindness is above any human love
so let your eagerness to hear
be greater than the feeling in my prayers.
Do this for them and with them, Lord,
so that they may speed according to your will,
and thus ruled and protected by you,
always and everywhere,
may they come at last to glory and eternal rest,
through you who are living and reigning God,
through all ages.


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