A Prayer

A Prayer by St. Francis of Assisi

Where there is discord, may we bring harmony.
Where there is error, may we bring truth.
Where there is doubt, may we bring faith.
Where there is despair, may we bring hope.

If you listen carefully to the prayers of most people, it is clear that they see the God they worship as a genie in a bottle, who, properly summonsed, will grant wishes.

Instead of rubbing an ornate bottle to bring him into view, they thank Him for that which they have (I suppose to entice Him to listen) and then roll out their list of wants and self-determined needs. I am sure if asked they would feel as though they were being humble, but most prayers I’ve heard in churches, synagogues and mosques that I’ve visited around the world are little more than sugar-coated demands.

I love this prayer by St. Francis of Assisi, which, incidentally, Margaret Thatcher evoked just before entering 10 Downing Street for the first time as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, because it displays a different approach to prayer. Read it again and you will see that St. Francis is not demanding of his God, instead, he is sharing in His creative expression.

8 thoughts on “A Prayer

  1. Colin

    This is a beautiful poem. It invokes the wish to always be a force that brings order and betterment in every situation. I wonder what the world would be like if more people’s prayers hearkened to this, and if this was the topic of people’s meditations. You can always tell what someone is thinking big-picture, and what their hearts are made of, by central topics of the things they are saying. You can see in the typical prayer that we are thinking mostly about what we want. I think it is past time as a species to focus on what we can give rather than what we can have.


  2. Steve Ventola

    You have uncovered the true “Secret.” Living is not a matter of demand or isolatedly wanting something rather a unified expression of God. May your words continue to reveal the simplicities of life that have been buried to so many. May our hearts be as pure as the words of St.Francis.


  3. Vincent

    Your unvarnished expose of the usual approach to prayer is refreshing! I would think that genuine prayer would begin with an attitude of open humility and gratefuolness for the privilege of living and woud conclude with the deep concern that Divine Will should prevail, particularly in one’s own choices in living. Here would be the basis for the bridge between heaven and earth which you mentioned earlier.


  4. Ricardo B.

    Yes, I can see the critical element of personal self-responsibility in this prayer. It does look like the problem has been more on the receiving end when you think about it; our choice whether to follow virtue or vice, plain and simple.


  5. Coco

    I’ve always loved these words. I agree the tenor is akin to a promise to do something not trying to extract one. Thanks for the post.


  6. Isabelle

    I love this poem as it signifies alignment with a higher source instead of as you so aptly put, demand. If our prayers relate to the deepest desire to do the best we can in any situation, then we are not looking to change our situation or that of another, but rather to be a powerful force within them.


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