“When I pray for aught my prayer goes for naught;
when I pray for naught I pray as I ought.”
~ Meister Eckhart
This prayer is borrowed from a treatise allegedly attributed to Meister Eckhart, ‘The Rank and Nature of the Soul’, in the translation of Miss C. de B. Evans, 1924. The authenticity of these treatises is discussed, but it appeared to me like a beautiful prayer well worth sharing here. I have adapted it in a more modern English, sometimes taking some liberty with the original, and other times leaving it as it is. Its authenticity goes inasmuch as it is speaks to our hearts and reveals the fragrance of the divine presence it prays…
Meister Eckhart was a Christian theologian and mystic born in 13th century Germany. He is nowadays appreciated for the universal qualities of his message. For Meister Eckhart, the most powerful form of prayer is “the outcome of a quiet mind” where there should only be “a pure going out of what is our own”. Such a mind, in his own words, is one that “is forever immersed in God’s most precious will, having left its own.” A prayer is an invitation to rest or abide in what is most essential in our being, it is “the practice of pure being”. I hope this prayer will find a resting place in your heart…
O divine presence, supreme fragrance,
Show me the way to your most precious nature
That in your wisdom you have sent my way
To be seen and recognised as my own self;
To be loved as my being beyond earthly manners;
To be enjoyed in this new birth as happiness.
To be owned in thy perfect wisdom.
Preserve me from all separation, for you have raised me above myself;
You have exalted my soul beyond the grasp of ego;
You have sealed me with the seal of your eternal image;
Have made nothing more like yourself than a man in his soul.
Teach me to live so that I may never want you;
So as never to hinder the working of your love-stream in me;
So as never to lend myself to any outward pleasure without you;
Nor occupy my mind with any creature other than you.
You are that pure consciousness incomprehensible by ego,
Inspiring the soul and raising her above entanglement
So that she can do thy will only, O Eternal Wisdom;
So that in grace she can be freed from all that comes uninvited.
You have made the soul to suit yourself in her nature and her laws
And she maintains she has no room for anyone but you.
O Almighty! Most Merciful Creator! Dear Lord!
Help me to overcome the pitfalls of my egoistic tendencies.
Help me to believe, to hope, to love; to live and feel exactly as you will,
And as much as you will and what you will. Lord, grant me
The sorrow of the humble; a mind escaped from mortal body;
To love, to laud and to behold you and cherish every act and thought that is toward you.
Grant me a clear, sober and genuinely prayerful mind
With real intuition of thy will, together with the love and joy
Which make it easy to perform. Lord, grant me always modest progress
Towards better things and never to backslide in any harmful way.
And, O my Lord, condemn me not, as I deserve,
To rely on my own powers, or my human weakness and foolishness,
But on your good providence alone. Direct me Lord to the Good itself;
Command my every thought and act to your own liking.
Make so happen that on my part, in me, your will is always being done,
And that I can be saved from evil and brought to the eternal life.
Make me be one where thou are three in Person, in the essence of thy divine nature:
Father, Son and Holy Ghost and the ever blessed almighty God.
Prayer by Meister Eckhart
(adapted from a translation by Miss C. de B. Evans)
Photo by Elsebet Barner
The photo represents a painting by Joakim Frederik Skovgaard (1856-1933)
– ‘Meister Eckhart, Selected Writings’ – by Meister Eckhart – (Penguin Classics)
– ‘Conversations with Meister Eckhart’ – by Meister Eckhart & Simon Parke – (White Crow Books Ltd)