Prayer of Teilhard de Chardin

Patient Trust

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.

And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.

—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ
excerpted from Hearts on Fire

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    • I first encountered the prayer about 18 months ago, and have been looking for the source ever since.

      It’s from a letter to his cousin, Marguerite, sent on 4th July 1915. His collected letters to her from the front line during WW1 were originally published in 1961 as Genèse d’une pensée: Lettres 1914-1919, and later in translation as The Making of a Mind: Letters from a Soldier-Priest 1914-1919.

  1. Beautiful prayer, and it shows me how beautiful it is when I pay attention to the steps on my path, leading to my destiny. The buddhists know a similar wisdom, by saying “It’s not the destiny where happiness lies, it’s the journey”

  2. I am an old Swedish women for the moment in a retreat att Marielund. It gives me comfort tog meditate on this prayer/poem. I need patience…

  3. I’m discovering for myself this wonderful prayer/poem just as I need it. I am awaiting admittance into the hospital for a bone marrow transplant. At least four potential donors were identified relatively quickly after re-entering remission from leukemia. However, none are viable after several weeks of remission, and I was getting anxious. Then I clicked on a link to the prayer/poem in an email on a matter unrelated to my illness. It speaks my faith and reminds me that my life belongs to God. I know that it was sent by the Spirit of God.

  4. I shed tears reciting this poem in common at a retreat recently in Los Altos, Calif. It reminds me of Karol Wotyla’s poem “Schizoid”. Teilhard’s wisdom is a resuscitating breath of fresh air when worries choke our thought patterns. He gives us permission to wait and not fret.

  5. I am so afraid for my 53 year old son. He has diabetes and needs cataract surgery. He is an Uber driver living with a lovely woman but they are not married – I think because his job is not adequate and she works for the church. I try to see what God’s plan is for them but lack patience and wisdom. Tielhard’s prayer helped today. Thank you for publishing it. It is hard to feel anxious and incomplete and just “be”.

  6. I like that this poem talks about the slow work of God. My nature is to rush in and make the changes fast so I can have the answers. But there is something in the process and growing with God as he teaches. This poem also brings up the aspect of transition times. Those times were things are incomplete and unresolved. Not the beginning, nor the end of the journey but the mid points. The not being able to see around the bend can have an uncomfortable feeling. And yet, the image that God’s hand is leading and ever present is a beautiful picture. Encouraging me to look up, not down. Entering into the Mystery with God and sharing in the sacred place called Time.

  7. I am normally very impulsive and act first and deal with the consequencues after. This prayer was sent to me at a time when I need to step back and be patient with life. I have to understand that positive things may take time and we will appreciate the outcomes more if we are patient with the execution of the plans.

  8. My granddaughter passed away one month ago. This poem is reminding me to be patient with myself and my grief. I need to trust God to take me through this grief journey however long it takes.

    • Marilyn, the grief will take you to surrender to the acknowledgment of eternal life, and that may have come to pass in the past 5 years, and I’m sure it will come to an end when you and your granddaughter meet again on the other side of the veil.

  9. Oh the strength in the words of this poem. Twice I’ve had to give my head a shake and pull up my socks by letting go and placing my life in God’s hands. The first time was when I was without warning widowed shortly after open heart surgery. I felt that it should have been me that died. Someone convinced me to join a grief share group. A wise person told me God makes no mistakes but He expected me to live because He expected me to use my life to finish whatever was His designs for me. Fourteen years I successfully underwent another open heart surgery. It is another miracle, at the hands of cardiac science that I am still alive. That was three weeks ago. I am very anxious to be fully recuperated. Someone sent me the poem: Trust in God. It is like a message to calm my impatience and a reaffirmation of the power of God in our every day lives.

  10. This poem is a gift to me, as I have a son who is quick to do everything, jumping into the fray without spending any time meditating on the possibilities and options available. He does the first thing that comes into his head, and believe me, that wreaks a lot of havoc on the rest of us. He’s turned a major corner in his life, and needs much help in slowing himself down long enough to hear God’s plan, not his own non-plan. This poem’s appearance is a clear case of when the student is ready the teacher will come. Thanks so much for this. And God bless.

    • I like the sentence “when the student is ready the teacher will come.” It speaks well of me to open my hearts and minds for all the surprises God is sending me.

      • Me too, Maria Illustre, in my impatience to wake up those around me, I’ve reminded myself often of this beautiful truth. And when someone tries to wake me up I’m quickly on my hind legs in protest, haha. Such is the humor of my human nature!


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