Prayer in Times of Crisis

Last week, my College (Columbia Bible College, Abbotsford, BC) asked me to film a video for our students on the theme of paying attention to what God is doing in our current moment–including some kind of practice that students could use to foster spiritual health.

Honesty break: I have been wrestling with this myself. In this time when all seems uncertain, and yet many of us can’t put our finger on actual sources of pain… I’m finding it difficult to pray.

So I have been returning to a practice I began three years ago when I walked part of the Camino trail with family: memorization. Sometimes–in times of crisis, we need the words of others to help us pray our own prayers. The process of memorization, going over and over the words of someone else’s prayer, helps me to begin to populate that set prayer with my own words, and worries, and desires.

Walking the Camino

The prayer that I’ve been returning to in the last couple of weeks is by Thomas Merton–each morning on the Camino I began my day with the words “My Lord God, I have no idea where I’m going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end.” Poignant words for days that were given over to simply following a trail set in front of me. But these words are resonating in me in a different way today.

Below is a link to the short video I filmed, and the prayer I have been clinging to. Maybe you, too, are struggling to pray these days. Consider starting with the prayer by Thomas Merton I have included below. Or maybe a psalm (121 and 72 come to mind). Find an ancient prayer from one of the desert fathers, or a prayer from the liturgical tradition, or a sung prayer from a favourite artist, or a Taize song…. Chew on it. Wrestle with it. Turn it over and over in your mind as you commit it to memory. Populate it with your own worries, and joys, and uncertainty–may it bring you peace.

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 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

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