A few weeks ago I came across a mention of a book by Ruth Bell Graham, Prodigals and Those Who Love Them, and was intrigued by the title. Then a few days later in a used book store, there it was. You know what I did? I thumbed through it, was interested in what I saw, and bought it.
One of the items that captured my attention was the following prayer. It is attributed to Anselm but some of the words are changed so the prayer can become a mother’s prayer for her children.
“Prayer by a Bishop for the Members of his Church (Adapted as a Prayer of a Mother for Her Children)
Jesus, good Shepherd,
they are not mine but yours,
for I am not mine but yours.
I am yours, Lord, and they are yours,
because by your wisdom you have created both them and me,
and by your death you have redeemed us.
So we are yours, good Lord, we are yours,
whom you have made with such wisdom
and bought so dearly.
Then if you commend them to me, Lord,
you do not therefore desert me or them.
You commend them to me:
I commend myself and them to you.
Yours is the flock, Lord, and yours is the shepherd.
Be Shepherd of both your flock and shepherd.
You have made an ignorant mother,
a blind leader, an erring ruler;
teach the mother you have established,
guide the leader you have appointed,
govern the ruler that you have approved.
I beg you,
teach me what I am to teach,
lead me in the way that I am to lead,
rule me so that I may rule others.
Or rather, teach them, and me through them,
lead them, and me with them,
rule them, and me among them.
– Anselm 1033-1109, Archbishop of Canterbury 1093-1109, Translated by Sister Benedicta Ward, S.L.G.
How might you pray this prayer? In this form or another? How might you change a word here or there to “fit” where you are today? Or where you might find yourself tomorrow?
I encourage you to spend time with the prayer and listen to how it speaks to you today, tomorrow and when it comes back to you in moment of prayer or when you find yourself in need of words for prayer.