Notebook

Perfect Fit

People often ask: How can I pray? In a conversation with Lydia Chukovskaya on 27 September 1939 Anna Akhmatova provided an example of how not to do it. At a time of tension nationally and personally she recalled with amiable sarcasm, perhaps to distract herself, a scene from happier times: ‘Once, while waiting to try on a new dress designed by Schweitzer, the famous couturier, my cousin (who weighed more than a hundred kilos) kissed an icon of St Nicholas and said: Please, do make it fit!’

If we’re honest, don’t we often pray like that, insisting that God’s providence provide us with outfits that neither fit us nor display us to our best advantage? A prerequisite for prayer is humble, that is realistic, self-knowledge. Another is trust that God knows what is best for me, and will provide it if I am disposed to receive it. That entails willingness to let go of cherished ideas of what I want, even of what I think I really need.