François Fénelon on Not Knowing What to Pray

Quite some time ago I purchased this little book by François Fénelon from a used theological bookstore:


Meditations and Devotions by François Fénelon (book cover)


The first section of the book has meditations on some sentences of Scripture. Here is one I appreciated reading yesterday:


Image from text is reproduced below


Here is the text from the image above:

Teach us to pray.–ST. LUKE 11:1.

LORD, I know not what to ask of Thee. Thou only knowest what I need. Thou lovest me better than I know how to love myself. O Father, give to Thy child what he knows not how to ask. I dare not ask either crosses or consolations. I stand before Thee. I open my heart to Thee. Behold my needs that I know not of; behold and do Thou according to Thy mercy. Smite me or heal me, depress me or lift me up: I adore all Thy purposes without knowing them. I am silent. I offer myself to Thee. I yield to Thee. I no longer have any desire but to do Thy Will. Teach me to pray. Pray Thou Thyself in me.


4 thoughts on “François Fénelon on Not Knowing What to Pray

  1. Hello, Abram.
    Indeed, this 18th cent. prayer by Fenelon comes out of the Roman Catholic Church leadership’s persecution against so-called heresy. If I remember correctly, Fenelon’s cousin (Mme Guyon) was accused of Quietism, and subsequently jailed for 8-years. His prayer comes from a life committed to a clear conscience before Almighty God. In our time, another important voice can be heard, with an appeal, “Lord, help me forget myself.” (James M. Houston)

    1. Thanks for your comment, Alistair. Jailed for Quietism sounds about right to me (not *morally* right, though). Considering that context makes this prayer even more powerful.

      1. You are welcome, Abram. Agreed (on not “morally” right). As a new Christian, at Capernwray Bible School, England (1988/89), I read a little book, “Prayer: The Christian’s Vital Breath” by L.A.T. van Dooren. He was a delightful old man, and friend’s with the founders Major Ian and Joan Thomas. Sadly, like Queen Elizabeth II who died today age 96, they have gone ahead of us to be with the Lord.

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