Benedict of Nursia: Pray and Work

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May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us — yes, establish the work of our hands. Psalm 90:17

“O Lord, I place myself in your hands and dedicate myself to you. I pledge myself to do your will in all things: To love the Lord God with all my heart, all my soul, all my strength. Not to kill. Not to steal. Not to covet. Not to bear false witness. To honor all persons. Not to do to another what I would not wish done to myself. To chastise the body. Not to seek after pleasures. To love fasting. To relieve the poor. To clothe the naked. To visit the sick. To bury the dead. To help in trouble. To console the sorrowing. To hold myself aloof from worldly ways.

To prefer nothing to the love of Christ. Not to give way to anger. Not to foster a desire for revenge. Not to entertain deceit in the heart. Not to make a false peace. Not to forsake charity. Not to swear, lest I swear falsely. To speak the truth with heart and tongue. Not to return evil for evil. To do no injury: yea, even to bear patiently any injury done to me. To love my enemies. Not to curse those who curse me, but rather to bless them. To bear persecution for justice’ sake. Not to be proud. Not to be given to intoxicating drink. Not to be an over-eater. Not to be lazy. Not to be slothful. Not to be a murmured. Not to be a detractor. To put my trust in God.

To refer the good I see in myself to God. To refer any evil in myself to myself. To fear the Day of Judgment. To be in dread of hell. To desire eternal life with spiritual longing. To keep death before my eyes daily. To keep constant watch over my actions. To remember that God sees me everywhere. To call upon Christ for defense against evil thoughts that arises in my heart. To guard my tongue against wicked speech. To avoid much speaking. To avoid idle talk. To read only what is good to read. To look at only what is good to see. To pray often.

To ask forgiveness daily for my sins, and to seek ways to amend my life. To obey my superiors in all things rightful. Not to desire to be thought holy, but to seek holiness. To fulfill the commandments of God by good works. To love chastity. To hate no one. Not to be jealous or envious of anyone. Not to love strife. Not to love pride. To honor the aged. To pray for my enemies. To make peace after a quarrel, before the setting of the sun. Never to despair of your mercy, O God of Mercy. Amen.”

The Prayer of St. Benedict by Benedict of Nursia (480-547). The Rule of St. Benedict is often summed up with the Latin expression “ora et labora” or “pray and work.”

This prayer seemed fitting because it mentions the Lenten disciplines of fasting, prayer, and giving as a part of everyday life. It is also relevant to my situation. I am facilitating meetings with administrators of 13 leading theological schools at Asbury Seminary in Kentucky, and we are discussing our faithful work that must be rooted in prayer. This prayer, ascribed to Benedict, helps us as God’s workers to stay centered and focused on Christ. I pray it blesses you and those you share it with (along with the new header photo from horse farm country).