Prayer: Patient Trust

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Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.

And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.

— Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ* excerpted from Hearts on Fire


These words feel like they see deep into the core of my soul and are written just for me. I’ve worked hard to become more patient. And I’m now pretty patient with things like bad traffic, recalcitrant and demanding pets, and bizarre rules dealing with bureaucracies. But when it comes to myself, I’m not so accepting of how long it can take to change habits and behaviors that I really want to change.

This prayer helps me take a deep breath and let go of my inner frustration with myself. Although I’ll probably always be uncomfortable with feeling “in suspense and incomplete,” maybe I can learn to accept it as a necessary stage in the process of change.


*Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ (1881 – 1955) was a French Jesuit priest, paleontologist, theologian, and teacher. His writings reconciling evolution and Christian faith were condemned by Church officials during his life and continuing after his death. More recently, the Church (including Pope Francis) has made positive comments on his ideas.

3 comments

  1. When I read the title of this post, I thought “patient” meant my role for a few hours this week as I sought advice from various medical professionals. After reading the complete post, I quickly realized that you were using patient as an adjective and not a noun. However, I also acknowledge that I need to be a more patient patient. Thank you for the reminder. “Be joyful in hope, Patient in afflictions, Faithful in Prayer.”

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    1. It’s amazing that the “patient” post came at exactly the same time you were being a “patient!” I hadn’t thought of the interesting twist on this word. We’re all patients (the noun version of the word) at some point and so thanks for the reminder that that is often exactly when we need to be the most patient (adjective).

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