Fullness of Joy from Anselm

I was reading Helmut Thielicke’s, A Little Exercise for Young Theologians. Theilicke mentioned the medition and prayer of Anselm at the end of his, Proslogion: 

I pray, 0 God, to know you, to love you, that I may rejoice in you. And if I cannot attain to full joy in this life may I at least advance from day to day, until that joy shall come to the full. Let the knowledge of you advance in me here, and there be made full. Let the love of you increase, and there let it be full, that here my joy may be great in hope, and there full in truth. Lord, through your Son you do command, nay, you do counsel us to ask; and you do promise that we shall receive, that our joy may be full. I ask, O Lord, as you do counsel through our wonderful Counsellor. I will receive what you do promise by virtue of your truth, that my joy may be full. Faithful God, I ask. I will receive, that my joy may be full. Meanwhile, let my mind meditate upon it; let my tongue speak of it. Let my heart love it; let my mouth talk of it. Let my soul hunger for it; let my flesh thirst for it; let my whole being desire it, until I enter into your joy, O Lord, who are the Three and the One God, blessed for ever and ever. Amen.

*Translation taken from Fordham University, XXVI


Anselm’s prayer reminds me of the emphasis Pastor John Piper makes regarding our complete satisfaction as we are satisfied in Christ or Pastor Greg Boyd’s emphasis on satisfaction progressing in this life but truly reaching its fulfillment in the next.

The Lord not only invited us to come to Him, but also empowered us to do so; that our joy may be complete. We do not hunger to simply be hungry. We hunger that we may eat! To remain hungry is not a God-given design. If we then hunger and thirst for righteousness, we will eat and drink it in! He who has the full supply of righteousness is not reluctant to give it to us.

What then do we eat at a feast of righteousness?

He will grow our compassion for the poor and needy, to vindicate the afflicted, to deliver them from oppressors (Psalm 72). To give without expecting a return, to walk blamelessly, speak truthfully, stay committed to our oaths, and do no evil toward our neighbor (Psalm 15). We will become a father to those who have none and look into the case of strangers (Job 29:11-17). These are the attributes of the righteous because they have the righteousness of God. What loving acts of kindness are these! When we realize we are loved by Him, we become free to direct that same type of love outwardly. Like a child, one doesn’t know how to love without an example. One can’t love if one doesn’t know what love is. How can you love without being loved? So then we draw near to the God of love and His righteousness that we may become proper image-bearers of our creator.

I think if we take the type of perspective shown in Anselm’s writing and incorporate into our own walk of faith, we will realize those things we desire. That to know Him is the beginning and completion of all satisfaction.

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Filed under Spiritual Formation, Theology

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