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Thomas Merton’s Prayer That Anyone Can Pray

“It’s no stretch of the imagination to say that Thomas Merton changed my life.”

Thomas Merton is one of those figures in modern life that has had a profound impact on so many Catholics and non-Catholics alike. As Fr. James Martin, our podcast guest from last week, tells it, he was working in finance when one day he came home and began watching a documentary about the Trappist monk on public television.

Like many, Martin started out by reading Merton’s famous autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain. Inspired by his words and his imperfections, Martin joined the Jesuit order two years after that initial encounter. Martin has written and spoken at length about Thomas Merton and how he’s a model for what he “hopes to do and hopes to be.”

At the end of our interview, Krista Tippett asked him to read one of his favorite passages from Merton’s writings. Martin chose to recite this passage from Thoughts in Solitude, which he says is “a prayer everyone can pray”:

“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.”

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