O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith

A Prayer for Easter: Do Not Disappoint Me

In the Rule of St. Benedict, a fascinating 6th century document that still informs the lives of monastics, Benedict — the founder of Western monasticism — describes what happens when a novice is fully accepted into the monastic community.


…they come before the whole community in the oratory to make solemn promise of stability, fidelity to monastic life, and obedience. The promise is made before God and his saints…

The novices make this promise in the presence of their abbot or abbess. They write it down on parchment, sign it, and place the document on the altar. Then they recite the following prayer:

Receive me, O Lord, in accordance with your word and I shall live, and do not disappoint me in the hope that you have given me.

These words are a paraphrase of Psalm 119:116, in which the final line, in the New International Version, has been translated “do not let my hopes be dashed.”


But I like how the Benedictines say it. Receive me, O Lord…and I shall live. But do not disappoint me.

I love that they are committing themselves to God in a holy ceremony, promising obedience and asking to be received into the life of the Kingdom, but in the same breath they’re adding an uncertain little disclaimer: Don’t let me down. They are making their vow to a life spent in dedication to the things of God, and the first thing they pray as they make this step is Do not disappoint me.

I’m giving it all up, God. I’m making this giant sacrifice. Please let it be worthwhile.


I love this prayer. I love the tension in it between action and doubt. I love how it covers both sides of the religious conundrum: the certainty of obedience and the uncertainty of faith. I love that it’s so fabulously blunt.

Tomorrow is Good Friday. Sunday is Easter. I am concluding Holy Week with my eyes a month ahead, on the release of my new book. This weekend I’ll join a billion believers around the world as we celebrate the resurrection of the son of God. And in four weeks I’ll be signing my name to a book that opens with this admission: that there are a lot of days when I’m not sure God exists.


I live in the tension between faith and doubt.

I worship in the muddle between fulfilled and dashed hopes.

I obey with the intensity of a Benedictine. I pray with the uncertainty of a Benedictine.

Receive me, O Lord, this Easter weekend, and I shall live. Do not disappoint me.


(H/T to my sister for first alerting me to this prayer.)

I’m going dark tomorrow on the blog and on Twitter. Have a wonderful weekend. Christ is risen indeed.

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posted April 1, 2010 at 2:47 pm

"Do not disappoint me." I dunno. It sounds a like something a father would say to a son. Or a grown up son would say to an alcoholic father, or something. Don't you dare to disappoint me. It suggests authority over its target.

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posted April 1, 2010 at 3:56 pm

I hear what you're saying, Kristian. But, as someone who loves this prayer already (I admit I'm biased), it's come to carry the weight of intimacy more than authority. It feels like a marriage vow to me. You're giving your life to someone and with the intensity of that commitment and the connection you already share, you ask for that commitment in return. It's the closeness and vulnerability of the prayer that I love…

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posted April 1, 2010 at 11:35 pm

Wow…I really appreciate your comments sometimes. I grew up in a really, really, Christian household and doubt about faith seemed blasphemous. It's so nice to know there are others who live in between questions and doubt and faith and following…! That prayer is an interesting take on what I think I do almost every day when I say once again, "God, okay, You and I are going to give it a shot again…just please make it mean something". What a strange dichotomy between hope and uncertainty.

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Rob Swick

posted April 2, 2010 at 6:55 am

Amen Brother!

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Nicodemus at Nite

posted April 2, 2010 at 7:31 am

The opening of your book is definitely a hook. Phew, can't wait.

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Danny Bixby

posted April 2, 2010 at 10:08 am

Really like that prayer. Thanks for posting it.Or should I be thanking your sister? 😉

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Jason Boyett

posted April 2, 2010 at 10:13 am

Yes, Danny. Thank her. Not me. :)

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posted April 2, 2010 at 2:38 pm

I like that.

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