Posted by: Mark Nielsen | January 8, 2008

The Merton Prayer & Some Old Catholic Pals

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 understand myself.

And the fact that I think I am following

Your will does not mean I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you

Does in fact please you.

And I hope I have the 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 troubles alone.

Trappist monk Thomas Merton , from Thoughts in Solitude, Part Two, Chapter II; (c) 1956

I had intended to include the famous prayer above as a part of yesterday’s post, on the Wanna Wanna Path to Enlightenment. But then I went in the kitchen to get some chips and salsa, and by the time I got back, I’d forgotten.

So, better late than never, I guess…

There’s a book I should recommend also, for more on Merton from a literary/historical perspective, moreso than a religious one. It’s called The Life You Save May Be Your Own, by Paul Elie. It’s sort of an interwoven biography of four leading mid-20th-century Catholic writers: Merton, Dorothy Day, Walker Percy, and Flannery O’Connor. Even before reading this book, each of them was a hero of mine in some way. So to have them considered together, and to look at situations where they either met or were influenced by each other, was a real treat. It wasn’t very “academic”, either. Quite accessible, in fact (though long). If you’re a fan of any of these writer/activists, or perhaps have always been curious, this book provides a lot of good context for who they were and what they wrote.

Or just clip and save the prayer above, and you’ll get the gist of what they were trying to say.



  1. Mark, that prayer is so Cool! It’s perfect for me!

    Hope you didn’t mind that I copied it. I’m going to fancy it up, add a background and put it on my fridge. Then memorize it and use it when I want to kiss up to God! (just joking about kissing up. Sort of) Seriously, I enjoyed that prayer…will definitely use it. Two thumbs up, there, Mark!

    Bookmarking your site….Penny

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