Evidently this was Eleanor Roosevelt’s favorite prayer. When you read it you can see why. Every night at the end of a long day, she would put on her old blue robe, kneel by her bed with its hard mattress and say this prayer.
Our Father, who has set a restlessness in our hearts and made us all seekers after that which we can never fully find, forbid us to be satisfied with what we make of life. Draw us from base content and set our eyes on far-off goals. Keep us at tasks too hard for us that we may be driven to thee for strength.
Deliver us from fretfulness and self-pitying. Make us sure of the good we cannot see and of the hidden good in the world. Open our eyes to simple beauty all around us and our hearts to the loveliness men hide from us because we do not try to understand them. Save us from ourselves and show us a vision of a world made new.
My wife and I have an ongoing theological argument along these basic lines. I say, “God broadens the back that bears the burden” and she’ll say, “God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb.” Neither quote, mind you, is biblical. Both seem to be true. But then I come to this prayer and repeat to myself: Keep us at tasks too hard for us that we may be driven to thee for strength.