Believing in a Lesser God
I really like the Prayer of Saint Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is doubt, faith ;
where there is despair, hope
where there is darkness, light
where there is sadness, joy
O divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
This prayer make no expectations of God. The prayer is about total acceptance of all things. At the end, it is accepting of all, even of death, and only asks that “we are born to Eternal Life”.
So, when something happens, anything happens, after saying this prayer, you really can’t complain that your prayers were not answered!
Assuming that all our anger is because our expectations have not been met, if we reject God, is it because we were brought up to believe that God is able to grant all our wishes, and when this did not happen we became angry and refused to believe in God? Have we put expectations on God and been disappointed? Did we really reject God because we prayed so hard for Grandma not to die and she did anyway?
Is it possible to believe in God yet have no expectations of God?
Desire vs. Expectation
We are always in fear of not having our expectations met:
- We expect not to die… at least not right now anyway!
- We expect not to lose our job
- We expect that our companion will not leave us
- We expect our children to behave
- We expect our car to never break down
For many, when we are in fear, we hit our knees and say a prayer asking for some “desire” to be met “Lord please let this airplane land safely!” (because I don’t want to die right now). But is it really a desire or will we be really angry if the airplane did crash? (How could this happen to me!).
You can always tell the difference between a desire and an expectation by asking yourself how angry you will be if it does not happen.
We will always have desires, even the St. Francis Prayer is stating a desire for acceptance, but, we do not have to have expectations.
If we remove the expectations, we remove the fear (it appears that this airplane will indeed crash. There is nothing I can do. I am about to die (or not)). However, we always have “desires”. “I would like to stay alive for the entire day, however I don’t expect to”.
When we have acceptance of all, even of impending death, we are at peace. When we don’t, we are fearful and anxious and at times stressed out.
So when we pray, is it possible to pray with no expectations?
Perhaps the St. Francis Prayer provides an example.