A Personal Look at The St. Francis Prayer

My favorite quote is by St. Francis (“Preach the gospel always, use words when necessary.”), and October 4th is the feast day of St. Francis, so I would like to say some words about The St. Francis prayer. I hope these words help you.  If they don’t ignore them, they’re only one man’s thoughts on this transformative prayer.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace

This line is asking God, the source and ground of our being to make us into the people of the Kingdom, so that we may extend the love and grace of God offered to us to others who need it too. God’s peace helps us live in a chaotic, unforgiving world in a healthy and loving way. We want to live with the sure knowledge that even in the darkest night we are loved in spite of who we are. Meister Eckhart said, “Spirituality is not to be learned by flight from the world, or by running away from things, or by turning solitary and going apart from the world. Rather, we must learn an inner solitude wherever or with whomsoever we may be. We must learn to penetrate things and find God there.”

Where there is hatred, let me sow love

People hate for no reason, maybe they woke up and chose to hate or because they are having a bad day or it makes them feel good. If we follow Jesus we are called to love, care, forgive, and support others not for any reward we might gain, but to glorify God. This line asks for the ability to love where hatred is present, to say no hate and love the unlovable. Mother Theresa said, “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”

Where there is injury, pardon

We have all been hurt. This line asks that when we are hurt for the power to forgive, not once but always. We are not perfect people and will hurt each other. The only option we have as honest, humble Jesus followers is to forgive. C.S. Lewis said, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” Sometimes we must also forgive ourselves, so Lewis adds, “I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him.”

Where there is doubt, faith

Sometimes we doubt. Sometimes we question. For some people asking questions or doubting is wrong and we may be accused of all sorts of things. This line asks for faith. It acknowledges that faith is a gift and asks for more. This could be dangerous. When we ask for faith, we may be given opportunities to have stronger faith. The bible says we live by faith. Anne Lamott says, “When God is going to do something wonderful, He or She always starts with a hardship; when God is going to do something amazing, He or She starts with impossibility.”

Where there is despair, hope

People and families are hurting. War unemployment, bullying, discrimination, obesity, illness and financial difficulties are on the raise. Our government is divided. Churches are divided. There’s more despair than hope. This line asks that hope overcome despair. As long as we live, there is hope. Our story has not come to the end. Stephen King tells us to “Remember, Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”  Shel Silverstein says, “Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”

Where there is darkness, light

Darkness, the absence of light is the lack of hope, love, and faith. With this line, we ask for more of God and less of the world, more of love and grace and less of the pale parody the world offers in its place. Paulo Coelho says that “No one lights a lamp in order to hide it behind the door: the purpose of light is to create more light, to open people’s eyes, to reveal the marvels around.” Creating more light in the world and shinning it in the darkness is what it means to be Jesus followers. Yehuda Berg says, “Love is a weapon of Light, and it has the power to eradicate all forms of darkness. That is the key. When we offer love even to our enemies, we destroy their darkness and hatred…”

And where there is sadness, joy

I would much rather have joy than sadness. Sometimes there seems no way out of sadness. The bible encourages us to have joy and do not fear. Jesus tells us that we are to live life to the full. Ralph Waldo Emerson advises us to “scatter joy” and Mark Twain said to “Let your joy be unconfined!” I think this means that our joy should be shared that it is meant to be a communal thing. We cannot be joyous on our own, only with another person that, I think is what Jesus means when he said, “When two are gathered in his name I am there too.”

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek

To be consoled as to console

The world is full of chaos, pain, agony, and loss. Yet, if we refuse to give into that and stretch towards love and grace, we will find a way not only to go on, but also a way to be better than we used to be. With this line, we ask for the ability to console people in pain and to show others the love and grace of God. J.R.R. Tolkien said, “For myself, I find I become less cynical rather than more–remembering my own sins and follies; and realize that men’s hearts are not often as bad as their acts, and very seldom as bad as their words.”

To be understood as to understand

We all want to be understood, but this line doesn’t ask that we be understood and find acceptance as much as we understand and accept others. This has the power to build and strengthen community and fellowship. A Chinese Proverb says, “Different flowers look good to different people.” When we affirm our differences and don’t let it come between us, then we will know how to understand the other accepting them for who they are not for what we could gain from them or make them into a copy of us. Dietrich Bonheoffer said, “We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.”

To be loved as to love

Most people will say they want love. A common saying is ‘Where’s the love.’ The answer this line says is with us. It asks that we not worry about being loved or finding love, but just love. We love others not for what we might gain, but for love’s sake itself. We love because God loves us. J.M. Barrie said, “Always try to be a little kinder than is necessary.”

For it is in giving that we receive

This line doesn’t say that if you give you will get no it’s the opposite. It’s in the very act of giving that we get. You give of yourself to someone else and you find that you have received more than you’ve given. This is why it’s been said that it is more blessed to give then to get. The selfless act of caring for the other person has the power to change lives. St. Therese de Lisieux said, “Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.”

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned

We all have a debt that we couldn’t possibly pay and that is why Jesus went to the cross for us. Jesus died for us, so that we may live for him. This line is asking that we forgive those who hurt us, because we have been forgiven for our sins. We are asking not for God to erase what happened or make things right, but for the power to forgive. Oscar Wilde said, “Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.”

And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life

Dying is something none of us cannot control, but must face eventually. We fear death, but this line says that when we trust God all will be well. We need not worry that death will be the end; it is merely the beginning of a grand adventure. Yet, we can and should die to our old self and be reborn to our new self as Kingdom people. Paul writes in Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Amen

“I want neither a terrorist spirituality that keeps me in a perpetual state of fright about being in right relationship with my heavenly Father nor a sappy spirituality that portrays God as such a benign teddy bear that there is no aberrant behavior or desire of mine that he will not condone. I want a relationship with the Abba of Jesus, who is infinitely compassionate with my brokenness and at the same time an awesome, incomprehensible, and unwieldy Mystery. ”

― Brennan Manning

Advertisements

8 Comments

  1. antoinette

    Thank you…..it was awesome. God Bless

  2. Nice Blog 🙂

    http://jabelah.wordpress.com/

    Thanks!

Trackbacks

  1. Where There Is Darkness, Light | godwrestler
  2. Where There Is Sadness, Joy | godwrestler
  3. To Console | godwrestler
  4. To Understand | godwrestler
  5. To Console | godwrestler
  6. In Giving, We Receive | godwrestler

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: