The puzzle of prayer and Robert Louis Stevenson


Robert Louis Stevenson – the author of Treasure Island and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – suffered all through his life from a weak chest and died young, at the age of 44. In 1894.

Stevenson eschews religion

Stevenson is stated to have eschewed religion from his youth but he continued to pray everyday all through his life. And, about ten years soon after his death, his wife published a tiny volume of prayers that he wrote and which I discover each highly effective and moving. What ever he believed, as he wrote these words and as he study them at household prayer meetings, I do not know. But it is difficult to assume that Stevenson did not have a deep and genuine spirituality, if not a standard a single.

The puzzle

In reality it is a puzzle that anybody could create and practise such prayers devoid of a accurate faith inside.

Introduction to Stevenson’s Prayers

In the book there is a lovely Introduction written by Mrs Stevenson which offers an insight into how Stevenson and his family members, who lived in Samoa at the time, kept the faithful life of their neighborhood by closing each and every day by collect for prayer and worship.

She says,

In each Samoan household the day is closed with prayer and the singing of hymns. The omission of this sacred duty would indicate, not only a lack of religious coaching in the property chief, but a shameless disregard of all that is respected in Samoan social life. No doubt, to numerous, the evening service is no a lot more than a duty fulfilled. The youngster who says his prayer at his mother’s knee can have no genuine conception of the which means of the words he lisps so readily, however he goes to his small bed with a sense of heavenly protection that he would miss had been the prayer forgotten… With my husband, prayer, the direct appeal, was a necessity. When he was pleased he felt impelled to provide thanks for that undeserved joy when in sorrow, or discomfort, to contact for strength to bear what need to be borne…
Following all function and meals had been completed, the ‘pu,’ or war conch, was sounded from the back veranda and the front, so that it could be heard by all. I do not assume it ever occurred to us that there was any incongruity in the use of the war conch for the peaceful invitation to prayer…
The service started by my son reading a chapter from the Samoan Bible, Tusitala [this is Stevenson – his Samoan name was Tusitala, which means ‘Teller of tales’] following with a prayer in English, from time to time impromptu, but a lot more typically from the notes in this small book, interpolating or altering with the circumstance of the day. Then came the singing of a single or a lot more hymns in the native tongue, and the recitation in concert of the Lord’s Prayer, also in Samoan…

Stevenson’s Prayer ‘For success’

Right here is a single of Stevenson’s prayers from that book named ‘For accomplishment.’ It is a prayer he would have stated numerous instances at a single of these prayer meetings that he held at the finish of each day in Samoa:

Lord, behold our family members right here assembled.
We thank Thee for this spot in which we dwell
for the adore that unites us
for the peace accorded us this day
for the hope with which we anticipate the morrow
for the well being, the function, the meals, and the vibrant skies, that make our lives delightful
for our pals in all components of the earth,
and our friendly helpers in this foreign isle.
Let peace abound in our tiny corporation.
Purge out of each heart the lurking grudge.
Give us grace and strength to forbear and to persevere. Offenders, give us the grace to accept and to forgive offenders.
Forgetful ourselves, aid us to bear cheerfully the forgetfulness of other individuals.
Give us courage and gaiety and the quiet thoughts.
Spare to us our pals, soften to us our enemies.
Bless us, if it may possibly be, in all our innocent endeavours.
If it may possibly not, give us the strength to encounter that which is to come, that we be brave in peril, continual in tribulation, temperate in wrath, and in all alterations of fortune, and, down to the gates of death, loyal and loving a single to an additional.
As the clay to the potter,
as the windmill to the wind,
as kids of their sire,
we beseech of Thee this aid and mercy
for Christ’s sake. Amen

It is a prayer complete of thankfulness, complete of humility and complete of hope.

An inspiration for us

What a distinction it would make if we all concluded our days, as Stevenson did, with a prayer like this.


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