Thomas Merton was one of the greatest American spiritual masters of the 20th Century. He was born in Prades, in Southern France, in 1915. In 1941 he entered the Trappist Monastery at Gethsemani, Kentucky. He was a prolific author excelling in his understanding of the contemplative life of prayer. He died an untimely death while visiting Bangkok in December, 1968.
Among his many writings is a beautiful prayer of dedication and trust. It is found in his book, “Thoughts in Solitude.” The prayer has had a profound influence on many who say the prayer in their devotions. At first it seems an unlikely prayer from a spiritual master who begins by saying, “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.” For those of us who admire Merton it is hard to imagine that with all his spiritual insight he would not know where he was going. Of all people he surely should know the way. But it is because he was so deeply in love with God that he could offer himself humbly in prayer trusting only that his desire to please God was in itself pleasing to God. His immense learning opened up windows to the Mystery of God rather than providing certainty with answers. Thus, he could pray that his only desire was to trust God always though he might seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. Perhaps this prayer will speak to your heart too and be an offering of your life to God in simple trust.
“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.”