A Prayer of Anselm: “Truth and Understanding”

  Many of us may have heard Anselm’s (d. 1109) famous line, “I believe so that I may understand.”  That famous line is part of a longer (and outstanding) prayer we may not have heard.  Here it is (at least part of it).  Read it slowly and deeply.

“I acknowledge, Lord, and I give thanks that You have created Your image in me, so that I may remember You, think of You, love You.  But this image is so effaced and worn away by vice, so darkened by the smoke of sin, that it cannot do what it was made to do unless You renew and reform it.  I do not try, Lord, to attain Your lofty heights, because my understanding is in no way equal to it.  But I do desire to understand Your truth a little, that truth my heart believes and loves.  For I do not seek to understand so that I may believe; but I believe so that I may understand.  For I believe this also, that ‘unless I believe, I shall not understand’ [Is. 7:9].”

Amen.  This prayer puts us in our rightful place before God: bowing at his feet, in need of everything.

The quote is found in Proslogion, which can be found in Anselm of Canterbury: The Major Works (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 87.

shane lems

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