I’m not sure how I got to be talking with my daughter-in-law recently about Sir Francis Drake. But I was surprised to hear her say, ‘Ah yes, el Draque, the notorious English pirate!’
My daughter-in-law is Spanish/Colombian and she was taught at school that Drake was a pirate. Whereas I was taught that he was a heroic sea captain who saved Britain from invasion by the Dutch in the Spanish Armada.
Whatever you were taught about Drake at school or you have learnt about him since, I doubt that many of us know much about his spirituality. Which is why I was intrigued to come across a beautiful and inspiring prayer the other day that is believed to have been written by him in 1577.
Drake’s father was a devout Protestant and was caught up in the Prayer Book Rebellion of 1549 in Devon and Cornwall. This was a protest against the introduction of a prayer book that enforced a new liturgy, for the first time in the English language, on the whole church. As a result, the family fled to Kent and Drake’s father became a chaplain to the Royal Navy and later a Vicar.
Given this background and the perilous nature of Drake’s adventures, there must have been many a prayer that was said on the Golden Hinde and in other situations where the lives of Drake and his men were in danger.
Yet the prayer I found is not a plea for God’s assistance or protection. Quite the contrary, it is a prayer that God should disturb us from too much security and complacency.
It’s a beautiful and powerful prayer – a prayer that we need to pray as much today as Drake and his contemporaries did 500 years ago.
So here it is. May it disturb you. And may God disturb us all!
Thank you, el Draque. Thank you, Sir Francis!
Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.