I worship in silence thy holy will and thine inscrutable ways.
Inscrutable is the perfect word for this prayer. It means impossible to understand or interpret, and that’s just what the will of God is. Holy and inscrutable together remind me that I can trust in and accept God’s will. I don’t have to fear it because it is holy, and I can’t reduce it to my will because it’s inscrutable, beyond my comprehension. I can worship or reject God’s holy will and inscrutable ways, but why in silence? Can I pray in silence if I’m praying these words?
Silence is a rare thing these days. The world around us is so noisy, and it doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. There’s no such thing as an end to the day for television, computers, or phones. Appliances hum, leaf blowers start, and cars drive by with loud engines and louder stereo systems. Finding a place of outer silence requires intention.
Inner silence is even rarer. For most people, the mind is filled with constant chatter, distracting and exhausting. There is too much information to process, too many choices, and very few moments of peace. Inner silence requires intention and practice. It’s not easy and it can be scary, quieting the noise that drowns out God’s voice. Left alone and open to God without distraction removes the partial and false identities and reveals the true self – what God treasures most and what seems so inadequate.
Perhaps that’s why Philaret included “in silence” in this prayer. Only when I am before God, with no noise to distract me and no false identity to hide behind, can I feel God’s love for me and for all creation. Held by God, who is far beyond the small version of God I usually prefer, I can worship. When I am still, I know God is (Psalm 46:10). Not in the thunder or the storm, but in a still, small voice, I hear God (I Kings 19:11-13). In silence, inner and outer, God finds me. In silence, I am renewed.
O Lord, I know not what to ask of thee. Thou alone knowest what are my true needs. Thou lovest me more than I myself know how to love. 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)
About the Author of this prayer:
Metropolitan Philaret was the son of a Russian Orthodox priest who became a priest himself. He taught at St. Petersburg Theological Academy, and eventually became the Metropolitan of Moscow – a ranking somewhere between archbishop and patriarch. Not quite on par with the pope, but awfully close. He worked for offering scripture and other teachings in Russian so more people could read them. He wrote a catechism that is still in use. I suspect Philaret was a very busy man who had his share of difficulties.