Anselm’s Prayer

by Jim Manney

A friend sent me this prayer written by St. Anselm of Canterbury, a twelfth-century theologian and philosopher.  Anselm is famous for an ontological proof for the existence of God.  He held that the concept of God is unique in that anyone who understands what is meant by the the question “Does God exist?” will see that the answer must be “Yes.”  Philosophers today still debate Anselm’s proof.  One of them said that “it is one of the most exasperating arguments in the history of philosophy. Every time that you think you have finally refuted it, you end up finding something wrong with your refutation.”

A Prayer from Anselm of Canterbury

O my God teach my heart where and how to seek you,
where and how to find you…

You are my God and you are my All and I have never seen you.
You have made me and remade me,
You have bestowed on me all the good things I possess,
Still I do not know you…

I have not yet done that for which I was made….
Teach me to seek you…

I cannot seek you unless you teach me
or find you unless you show yourself to me.
Let me seek you in my desire, let me desire you in my seeking.
Let me find you by loving you, let me love you when I find you.

Image from Lawrence OP under Creative Commons license.

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Jim Manney

Senior Editor at Loyola Press
Jim Manney is a popular writer on Ignatian topics (God Finds Us, A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer) as well as the editor of many books on Ignatian spirituality, including What Is Ignatian Spirituality? He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Latest posts by Jim Manney (see all)

December 15, 2010

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Bob December 15, 2010 at 11:03 am

Beautiful prayer, beautiful poem. I wasn’t familiar with St. Anselm until today. Thanks!

Reply

Suzanne Marie March 1, 2012 at 5:19 am

St. Anselm”s prayer moves my heart Don’t really care if he is the author as it is out there for us. “My word shall not return to me void”

I have copied it for use in my daily prayer.

Lenten grace to you.

Reply

CRAIG PETERSEN March 27, 2014 at 1:29 am

I named my son after St. Anselm be reading his daily office in a prayer book. I need this prayer because he is ill. St. Anselm- pray for us.

Reply

Georgiana Cameron March 31, 2014 at 9:49 am

I need this prayer because I need this prayer.

I pray that with God’s grace, your son is soon back to perfect health.

Isn’t it amazing how the right things show up for us?

Reply

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