I came across one of my favorite prayers a few days ago when I bought the book "Day by Day with the Catechism" at a Catholic Church run rummage sale. It's a very well known and valued prayer among Catholics who look for thoughtful prayers, and I was happy to see it included in this booklet. As I reread it, I thought of my recent blog posting about getting out of deep trouble, where I provide commentary and advice through the wisdom contained in Psalm 1 of the Book of Psalms. I realized that I could do something similar with this prayer, so here it is.
This prayer is entitled "A Prayer for All Things Necessary to Salvation" and it was written by Pope Clement XI (1649-1721). As you read through this prayer, written by a Roman Catholic Pope, and thus heir to St. Peter, who Catholics consider the first pope, recognize that this scholarly and spiritual man has developed a virtual checklist of the correct things to ask God for. This is why I had the idea that if any of you are in deep trouble, you can take this prayer and thoughtfully use it to attune yourself more to the desires expressing within the prayer, and less to the worldly things and temptations that may be the cause of or contributing to your suffering as you attempt to handle the deep trouble that you may be in. Just a note, remember that I explained that to be "sanctified" means that one is focused on serving God first and foremost.
PRAYER FOR ALL THINGS NECESSARY TO SALVATION
I believe, Lord, but may I believe more firmly.
I hope, but may I hope more securely.
I love, but may I love more ardently.
I grieve, but may I grieve more deeply.
I adore you as my first beginning.
I aspire after you as my last end.
I praise you as my perpetual benefactor.
I invoke you as my merciful protector.
Direct me by your wisdom.
Keep me in your grace.
Console me with your mercy.
Protect me with your power.
I offer you, O Lord,
my thoughts, that they may be about you;
my words, that they may be spoken for your glory;
my actions, that they may accord with your will;
my sufferings, that they may be accepted for your sake.
I desire whatever you desire.
I desire it because you desire it.
I desire it insofar as you desire it.
I desire it for as long as you desire it.
I pray, O Lord, that you will enlighten my mind,
inflame my will,
cleanse my heart,
and sanctify my soul.
May I repent of past sins,
repel future temptations,
correct wicked tendencies,
and cultivate virtuous ideals.
Good Lord, grant that I may love you,
and do good to my neighbor,
and be detached toward the world.
May I strive to obey my superiors,
support my inferiors,
aid my friends,
and spare my enemies.
Help me to overcome sensuality by self-denial,
avarice by liberality,
anger by meekness,
and tepidity by devotion.
Make me prudent in counsel,
steadfast in danger,
patient in adversity,
and humble in prosperity.
Grant, Lord, that I may be attentive at prayer,
temperate at meals,
diligent at work,
and constant in resolutions.
Let my conscience be upright,
my outward appearance be modest,
my conversation edifying,
and my whole life be ordered.
Help me to labor to overcome nature,
to cooperate with your grace,
to keep your commandments,
and to further my salvation.
Teach me the futility of earthly things,
the greatness of Divine things,
the shortness of temporal things,
and the length of eternal things.
Grant that I may be prepared for death,
and obtain paradise-
through Christ our Lord.
Clement XI (1649-1721), Pope and Scholar
Now that you have read this prayer, marvel along with me at each and every line, how each one could be the topic of a prayer request. Yet, how many people ask God through prayer to "desire whatever you desire," to "hope more securely," to "cultivate virtuous ideals," to "spare my enemies," to "overcome avarice by liberality," to "overcome tepidity by devotion," to be "constant in resolutions," or to "cooperate with your grace?" People, even true believers, tend to pray to God when they "want something," and that is fine, if only what you want are the qualities and devotion to God that are listed here! When one prays to God for any or all of these qualities, one sets one's self on a different path, one where one recognizes more clearly the blessings that one has received (and answered prayers), and understanding of why and where a specific aspect of life that is not going as hoped is still not a total loss.
So a great exercise for everyone who wants to become closer to God would be to regularly pray this prayer and, as a way to promote one's spiritual development, why not select one or two specific lines of request in this prayer as the focus of your "prayer request to God." I think this is the type of prayer one should read and reflect upon at the beginning of each day.
I hope that you have found this helpful!