Find Peace with the St. Francis Prayer

by | Spirituality, Spiritual Awakening, & Exploration

Dear Spiritual Friends,

In the tapestry of timeless wisdom, there exists a prayer that has resonated through centuries, offering solace and guidance to seekers of peace and compassion. Today, let’s embark on a contemplative journey into the profound depths of the St. Francis Prayer, a beacon of peace and a testament to the enduring power of love.

Attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, a saint revered for his simplicity, humility, and devotion to all living beings, the prayer is a humble plea for divine guidance. Though often associated with the Catholic Church, its universal appeal transcends religious boundaries, embracing humanity in its entirety.  I’ve used this prayer in meditation as a “checklist” of sorts to contemplate areas of my life that need mending, accountability, and self-improvement.

Let’s break the prayer down one section at a time for reflection.  Find a quiet, comfortable place, relax, and take a few cleansing breaths.  Close your eyes and focus internally on your heart.  Ask that God removes any walls built up around you.  Pray to seek the truth and His way so that His will be done.  When you are ready, begin to go through each of the following sections, reflecting on each of them.

“Lord, Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace”

Putting God first, with the very first word “Lord”, is the goal since it is His will that we want to know and follow.

The opening line, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,” invites us to embody the qualities of compassion, understanding, and love in our interactions with others.  At the heart of the St. Francis Prayer lies a profound desire to be a vessel of peace in a world often marred by discord.  The goal is to accept, trust, and relax into the safety of the hands of God.  The sentiments that follow provide us with specific areas in our lives that might need healing and nurturing.

“Where There is Hatred, Let Me Sow Love”

Is there hatred in your heart?  This prayer doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities of the human experience. Instead, it invites us to confront hatred with love, to be the agents of transformation in the face of animosity. It challenges us to sow seeds of love where hatred has taken root, fostering a world where compassion prevails over discord.  Ask yourself, is there any feelings of hatred in your heart? It might be towards a person, situation, agency, or something else.  What if we were to pray for that person or situation?  We were made to be a vessel of God’s compassion, God is love, and placing our hearts and our minds in the hands of God, and allowing Him to be the judge, helps release us from fear and frees our own hearts to end chaos.  Pray to stop the storm.  Pray that you are able to withstand the storm by standing in the middle of a chaotic atmosphere as the wind and the tides swirl around you, that you may remain unaffected.  Pray that all fear falls away.  Put your trust in God and accept that everything is exactly as it should be at this moment and care for yourself rather than trying to hope something or someone else is fixed or is changed.

“Where There is Injury, Pardon”

Do you feel that someone or something has injured you?  In a world wounded by conflict and strife, the St. Francis Prayer encourages the practice of forgiveness. It acknowledges that injuries will occur, but it urges us to rise above resentment and extend the healing choice to no longer be a victim to someone else’s choices. Through forgiveness, we break the chains that bind us to past grievances, embracing the freedom that comes with a heart filled with self-compassion and perhaps compassion towards others as well.  Make a list of those who have harmed you.  Acknowledge your wish for something different and state specifically what that might be.  Have you communicated your feelings to the other person in a healthy conversation?  Are you allowing the other person to make amends if they are willing or are you punishing them by holding a grudge leaving no room for mending?  Are you allowing others to make their own mistakes?  Have you yourself ever injured another person?

Go within yourself and search for areas that need healed from injuries you feel were inflicted by others as well as those you might have inflicted and need to make amends for.  As you change your mind from fear of further injury to love, there is miraculous self-healing.  Let God’s peace extend through you so that others can see your strength and in witnessing this, find strength within themselves:  Remember the goal of the prayer is to be an instrument of God’s peace.

“Where There is Doubt, Faith”

Are there areas in your life where you have doubt?  Doubt often creeps into the corridors of our minds, casting shadows on our paths. St. Francis invites us to replace doubt with faith; perhaps faith in a religious context, perhaps faith in the inherent goodness of humanity and the possibility of redemption, perhaps faith in yourself and your tenacity, strength, and abilities. It’s a call to trust in the journey, even when the destination is unclear.

We have faith in so many areas of our lives that we might take for granted.  We have faith from moment to moment that our hearts will beat, that our eyes will see, and that our feet will take their next steps.  Like uncertainty, we live with uncertainty every day without much thought.  We drive not knowing if we will get from point A to point B, if we will leave our homes without them burning down.  The Earth rotates, flowers grow, the sun comes out every morning.  God’s invisible powers are present in our lives each moment of each day, so why do we doubt?  The answer is fear.  Fear is not of us, we cannot control outcomes, and when things in the past have not worked out as we wanted them to, we become fearful of being victims of circumstances once again.  We are called to have faith and be faithful and believe that nothing will happen in God’s world by mistake.  Some happenings are difficult to understand, but without faith all we then have is fear.  Ask in prayer that your fear be replaced with a belief in the power of the Father, that He help you withstand any storm, and that all fear will fall away.

“Where There is Despair, Hope”

Are there situations in your life that you feel despair?  In the face of despair, the prayer encourages us to be bearers of hope. It reminds us that even in the darkest moments, a glimmer of light can dispel the shadows. By embodying hope, we become beacons of inspiration, helping others find their way through the labyrinth of despair.  Pray that your heart will be washed clean.  Pray that your fear be cleansed of all thoughts that separate us from our fellow man and from God’s love.  Can you elevate your heart to feel hope?  Are there small steps you can take today to move towards hope and away from despair?  Can you identify how fear and separateness are keeping you bound to despair?  Ask yourself what you can do today, to resolve issues, to provide self-care, and leave all else to God.  What can you do today?

“Where There is Darkness, Light”

What is the darkness?  Is it our shadow selves, war, depression, and other areas we cannot control such as our past or others in this world?  Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. The St. Francis Prayer echoes this sentiment, urging us to be the light in times of darkness. It calls us to illuminate the corners of our world with kindness, compassion, love, understanding, and empathy, dispelling the shadows that obscure our shared humanity.  Call on God’s light to shine upon you, for you to hear the small still voice and illuminate the answers you are looking for.  Pray for a continual conscious contact with our Father so that you are connected to His light.  It is the love that you feel and provide today that will elevate you beyond the dark forest and into the light.

“Grant That I May Not So Much Seek to Be Understood as to Understand”

In a culture that often values being understood over understanding, this line challenges us to shift our focus. It invites us to cultivate the art of deep listening and empathetic understanding. By seeking to understand, we open pathways to connection and bridge the gaps that divide us.  Can you think of times that you have not felt like someone understood you, heard you, listened to you?  How can we put our ego aside and instead of an awareness, of ourselves and of others, so that we can better understand the human condition?  Not in the way of a people pleaser but in a way that allows compassion and our own accountability.  Is there someone in your life that has you focused on not feeling understood where you might need to see the other person’s perspective?

“For it is in Giving that We Receive”

In the paradox of giving and receiving, the prayer reveals a profound truth. By giving of ourselves without attachment to the outcome, without expectations, we utilize our strengths and we receive the intangible gifts of joy, fulfilment, and spiritual abundance. It underscores the interconnectedness of our actions and the reciprocity inherent in a life dedicated to service.  This sentiment is universal.  In another belief system it is called Karma – that by doing good to others we are rewarded. It’s called paying it forward.  Are there areas you have expectations of receiving where you could be giving?  Do you believe that in giving you receive it back tenfold?

“It is in Pardoning that we are Pardoned”

Forgiveness.  The act of choosing to no longer see ourselves as victims of another’s actions or words.  Of no longer wanting to experience the emotional and physiological response of tension and dis-ease that comes from a victim mentality and self-pity.  Of no longer wanting attention from others because we are telling our stories to get the validation externally that we need to foster internally.  And what about forgiveness of self?  Can you think of areas that you have judged harshly your own life and want to no longer punish yourself.  Like drinking poison hoping someone else will fall ill, holding anger, bitterness, or resentment in your heart only impacts you.  How instead can you summons up mercy?  We don’t want our sins counted against us so how do we keep from not wishing the same for one another?  Pray first that they are forgiven by God, and then ask that our hearts be cleaned of guilt, sin, and darkness.

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

The dying of the ego.  Of our fears, our defensiveness, our selfishness and self-centeredness.  There is a time for self-love such as removing ourselves from toxic situations and setting boundaries.  But our brains are egocentric and worried about our past and our future and our own small world.  Love and mercy and compassion are what connects us to our higher Source and to other human begins.  The giving and the light instead of the darkness of judgment and anger.  We are naturally born compassionate, creative, curious, courageous, human beings that need to be connected to one another. We are entitled to our feelings and our moods good and bad and to still be considered worthy and loveable.  Can you set your ego aside and notice your fellow man?  Can you be curious and compassionate enough to hold space for another human being.

Closing Thoughts: Living the Wisdom of St. Francis

As we reflect on the timeless wisdom encapsulated in the St. Francis Prayer, let us strive to embody its teachings in our daily lives. May we become instruments of peace, sowers of love, and beacons of light in a world hungry for compassion. In the spirit of St. Francis, may our lives resonate with the transformative power of love.

With peace and goodwill, surpassing all human understanding, blessings to you as you grow in your faith and spiritual connectedness to God and all others around you.  May you feel compassion for yourself and for all those who before, now, and in the future will people your world.

For courses on this website to help you foster growth:

  1. Transforming Relationships: Healthy Communication for a Fulfilling Life | Better Life Inc
  2. Twenty-One Days of Writing to Discovery Your Authentic Self | Better Life Inc
  3. 12 Weeks of Creating the Life You Want | Better Life Inc
  4. Healing and Thriving Beyond Unhealthy Relationships | Better Life Inc
  5. Transforming Health Anxiety | Better Life Inc
  6. Connection in Relationships – Understanding Attachment Styles | Better Life Inc
  7. Doing The Things That Will Make Your Life Better | Better Life Inc
  8. Forgiveness: Healing and Transformation | Better Life Inc
  9. From Shame and Guilt to Empowerment | Better Life Inc
  10. Overcoming Self-Sabotage | Better Life Inc
  11. Therapeutic Journaling | Better Life Inc
  12. Understanding Anxiety | Better Life Inc
  13. Weathering the Storm of Betrayal | Better Life Inc

Setting Boundaries | Better Life Inc