Canon Steve Williams
Both Houses of Parliament begin their business each day with a prayer. No matter how critical or mundane the items on the agenda, they are first presented in the public realm with a request for divine help in deliberation. I don't see this as a quaint ritual nor a sinister religious bid for power. Rather, I think it's a recognition that, as a nation and as individual human beings, we don't face difficult decisions or insoluble situations alone. We're part of a greater network of belonging. And it's here that we have to exercise a degree of trust... you might use the word, "faith". Most people think that means having a clear vision, and sticking to it, through thick and thin. But, really, it means living with uncertainty - knowing that answers and solutions are hard to find, and require perseverance and co-operation with others. The spirit in which you make a big decision is as important as the actual decision itself, because it's no more than a staging post on a journey.
Yesterday marked the fiftieth anniversary of the death of a Trappist monk whose writings inspired a generation of people seeking God in the mess of everyday life - Thomas Merton. His prayer led him to campaign for social justice - but always within a relationship with a God who knew his human frailty. To sum up his most famous prayer, he said: " My Lord God, I have no idea where I'm going. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. If I do this, you'll lead me by the right road even though I may know nothing about it. You'll never leave me to face my perils alone".