By The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster

If you know anything about monastic life, you probably at least heard about Benedictine monks and the Rule of St. Benedict. This prayer is attributed to that Benedict, a Christian who grew up in Rome during a time of “moral decay” and left the city to live as a hermit in a cave that was up in the rocks beside the lake and ruins of Nero’s palace east of Rome. He lived there for three years, with a local monk brining him food and water, only to later be named an Abbot to the local monastery. He founded 12 monasteries with 12 monks each, and while he always considered the solitary life of a hermit to be the “crowned jewel” of monastic living, he developed his “rules” in order to provide practical and spiritual guidance to those seeking to live together in intentional Christian community.

You can hear something of Benedict’s solitude, seeking and silence in this prayer—it seems the kind of prayer that might be more effective after walking to the lake and taking some meditative breathes, or walking down a wooded path and spending some time breathing deep and listening to the sounds of the forest. After having spent time moving spiritual inward while walking, the words like “wisdom” and “patience” and “meditate” might take on new meaning. 

Let us pray:

O gracious and holy God,
Give us diligence to seek you,
Wisdom to perceive you,
And patience to wait for you.
Grant us a mind to meditate on you;
Eyes to behold you;
Ears to listen for your word;
A heart to love you;
And a life to proclaim you;
Through the power of the Spirit
Of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
—Attributed to Benedict of Nursia, c. 480–c. 547


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