Thou lovest me more than I myself know how to love.
This line is about love. Because Philaret doesn’t mention love again, it almost seems like a digression. This is the prayer without it:
O Lord, I know not what to ask of thee. Thou alone knowest what are my true needs. Help me to see my real needs which are concealed from me. I dare not ask either a cross or consolation. I can only wait on thee. My heart is open to thee. Visit and help me, for thy great mercy’s sake. Strike me and heal me, cast me down and raise me up. I worship in silence thy holy will and thine inscrutable ways. I offer myself as a sacrifice to thee. I put all my trust in thee. I have no other desire than to fulfil thy will. Teach me how to pray. Pray thou thyself in me. Amen. (From A Manual of Eastern Orthodox Prayers, Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1991, p.24)
Although it reads just fine, I wouldn’t have the courage to pray this prayer without the love line. I can put my trust in God because God loves me more than I know how to love. Accepting God’s will is accepting God’s love, incomprehensible and freely given. Or as Paul put it, if I have all knowledge but do not have love, I am nothing…as for knowledge, it will come to an end…now I only know in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. (I Cor 13: 2, 8, 12-13)
When knowledge ends, love abides. When my life ends, love abides. God’s love isn’t a digression, it’s the reason I can pray this prayer. It’s also the answer to it.