St Francis of Assisi Prayer is a well-known prayer that hangs in many homes around the world. It is recited by believers all around the globe and is just as popular as the Lord’s Prayer.
The prayer of St. Francis of Assisi starts out by saying, “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.” As Christians, we are called to serve Christ by pursuing peace and edifying other believers (Ro 14:19). It is not an accident that one of the most important –though easily overlooked – aspects of the armor of God is the shoes of the Gospel of Peace. God has called us to spread his message of love and peace, not just with our fellow man, but with God himself. Becoming an instrument of peace means making the Gospel known in our lives, with and without words.
The prayer of St. Francis continues, “Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.” This is exactly what Christ preached and modeled during his life here on earth. When Judas betrayed Jesus, Christ still called him “Friend”. When the people crucified him, he pleaded with his Father to forgive them. He instructed us to “love our enemies and pray for those who persecute [us]”.
Jesus also tells us to offer the other cheek when someone strikes us – in other words, when someone inures us, in word or deed, we should forgive them without resentment and without seeing retribution. We are called to be mountain movers who combat doubts with faith. When we are suffering or confused, we do not despair because we have God’s power at work within us. We are to encourage one another to stay strong and to believe even when everything says it’s impossible. We are the light of the world, a guide to those who are blinded by the darkness of the world. We are to offer them the joy of Christ to be their strength when sorrow weighs on them like a heavy burden because he alone can turn mourning to dancing.
Finally, St Francis of Assisi Prayer concludes, “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; For it is in giving that we receive; It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.”
Christians are to be the reflection of God in this world, we are to imitate him in all aspects of our lives. Just as he offers himself to us without reserve, we are to offer of our time and energy to others – without reserve. Christ drew his strength from God to minister to the countless crowds who were desperate for God, we are to do the same. This world is desperate for the God that we know and have. We should not selfishly try to keep him to ourselves, no matter what the cost is to us.
We are commanded to comfort others who are suffering just as God comforts us in our afflictions. Again and again, the Lord tells us to be quiet and keep a guard over our mouths so that we can listen to the needs of the people before us and minister to them appropriately (Eph 4:29). We are to love others just as much as we love ourselves and to care for their needs in the same way we see to our own. We are to give without expecting to receive anything back, knowing that our God will provide for us what we need. We are to forgive no matter if they have asked for forgiveness or not knowing that our Father forgave us when we were still his enemies. Again and again, the model for us is to crucify our flesh in all things so that we can live out the life of Christ in everything.
St Francis of Assisi Prayer is not just something that we can mindlessly recite. It is how we are commanded to live before God and man. This is the life that Christ emulated for us based on the character of God and it is the life that we are to imitate as his children and his church.