Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Francis of Assisi: Prayer of Simplicity

Francis’ emphasis on littleness—being a minor player in life—stood, and still stands, in contrast to the way many in the Church have conceived of leadership. Instead of position, Francis sought humility. Instead of being served by those lower down the ladder, he served others, especially those in the lowest, most broken places of life.

Francis Serving the Leper

In the Gospels when the original twelve had one of their squabbles about who would sit in positions of honor, Jesus rebuked them: “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:42-45).

Such is the heartbeat of Francis’ famous prayer. A radical call to simplicity and humility, these petitions will substantially change our focus in life if we pray them with sincerity.

Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
Where there is hatred . . . let me sow love.
Where there is injury . . . pardon;
Where there is discord . . . unity;
Where there is doubt . . . faith;
Where there is error . . . truth;
Where there is despair . . . hope;
Where there is sadness . . . joy;
Where there is darkness . . . light.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled . . . as to console;
To be understood . . . as to understand;
To be loved . . . as to love.

It is in giving . . . that we receive;
It is in pardoning . . . that we are pardoned;
It is in dying . . . that we are born to eternal life.

What a powerful prayer! How often we have heard it said that if we want to see prayer answered quickly in our lives, just pray for patience or humility. The very day we do so, the Lord brings circumstances into our lives that try our patience and call us to cultivate humility—often in painful or unexpected ways! So it is with these profound words of St. Francis. If we honestly pray this prayer we will open ourselves up to be transformed by God’s Spirit from the inside out!

2010 © Glenn E. Myers

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