17th Century Nun’s Prayer

I’m doing something a little different today.  I’m going to let someone elses words resonate through me as opposed to my own thoughts and ramblings.  Sometimes, another’s words says it all.  This is a prayer I’ve adopted as one that I will use more often.  I need this – I’m far from perfect and I need to remember how flawed I am.  And, those flaws need to be lifted to the Lord.  This is a 17th century nun’s prayer:

Lord, You know better than I know myself that I am growing older and will someday be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occassion. Release me from the craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs. Make me thoughtful, but not moody. Helpful, but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all, but You know, Lord, I want a few friends at the end.

Keep my mind free from the endless recital of details; give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains. They are increasing, and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of others’ pains, but help me to endure them with patience.

I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occassionally, I may be mistaken.

Keep me reasonably sweet. I do not want to be a saint – some of them are so hard to live with. But a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil. Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people. And give me, Lord, the grace to tell them so.



About revmonica

I'm the Director of Growth Ministries at Williamsons Chapel United Methodist Church and the proud wife of Steve and mommy to Morgan and Gavin.
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One Response to 17th Century Nun’s Prayer

  1. Carol M. says:

    Hello Monica, I found this prayer in a frame at my local Goodwill store today and just stood there laughing. It is so ‘ME’! Of course I bought it for a pittance. I am a inveterate story teller and have claimed I can tell a story about any topic. So far, at 69 years and counting, I haven’t run across a topic I CAN’T tell a personal story about!

    Being the last of my family’s generation, I’ve taken on the job of telling all the stories I can remember for future generations, should they wish to know more about me and my generation. I started about 5 years ago when I realized I was telling lots of personal stories on my FB wall and they would be a good source for me to build my memoirs on ‘someday’. After several hundred pages in several documents, I can come to terms with ‘THIS is my memoir and if someone wants to ‘fix it’ down the road, it’s fine with me’!

    In the meantime, I’m writing more and more about my generation and what I know of those before me. I was blessed to be able to interview my beloved Auntie Olive for about 18 months before she died at just shy of 96 years. I learned so much about my dad (her brother) and their parents as well. Stories I’d never heard before. She was a grand story teller! I have decided I’m going to live to 96 in honor of her and hopefully, I can be telling my stories right up to the end! NOW I so wish I had thought to interview my mom and grandmother, but those were the busy wife/mommy/work years and I had no more time or interest than my kids and 2 nephews and 1 niece have -for the same reasons!

    Today, after I got it home I ‘googled’ the prayer and, surprisingly, found a good number of sites about it. The best answer I came across as to its birth is the following: . . . The “prayer” is in different versions since the 1960’s, it is as you note attributed to “A 17th Century Nun”. It is not. It is in many so many different versions, often with a police theme, “but a sour old superintendent is one of the crowning works of the devil.” My best lead is a 1922 Reader’s Digest source. The entire thing is well a “joke” there is not one line that matches 17th century style. “crowning works of the devil” is a more constant phrase and the tale often has “we” instead of “I”, etc . . . Source(s): The Reader’s Digest; by Lila Bell Acheson Wallace, De Witt Wallace – 1922 Keep me reasonably sweet; I do not want to be a saint—some of them are so hard to live with—but a sour old woman is one of the crowning works of the devil. … – Page 106. This is the website I found it at. Best answer I found, but as many other bloggers noted, it’s good for ALL of us to read this and remember it!

    Just thought you would like to know more about this very wise quote. Thanks for your blog! Carol Music


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