Until recently, I didn’t know much about St. Francis.  I may have grown up in a Catholic community where most of the streets are named after saints, but I know next to nothing about the saints themselves.  In a word – clueless.

Then several of us at Florissant Presbyterian Church started a prayer group.  We always close with the Lord’s Prayer, but I wanted to find other traditional prayers that we could use on a regular basis.  This search led me to the Prayer of St. Francis.

As I read it, it rocked me back.  Whoa!  This is the guy with the bunnies and the birds?  Until then, that’s how I thought of St. Francis – the cool guy with the bunnies and the birds. But then I read his prayer.  He didn’t just want a gentle relationship with the flying and the furred.  He obviously sought a similar relationship with all of God’s Creation.

The Prayer of St. Francis quickly became a staple in my daily prayer life.

First of all, I love that it speaks to so many of the potential problems I face day to day.  Rude salesclerk?  “Where there is injury, pardon.”  Have to count on a co-worker who has let me down repeatedly?  “Where there is doubt, faith.”

Just as it can be applied to my own issues, it addresses community, national and global problems.

But the power of this prayer doesn’t stop there.  As I pray it regularly, I find that I am asking God to not only use me to shape the world around me, I am asking Him to reshape me.    Calm me.
Turn my vision from myself to those around me and teach me to really see, for how else can I interpret “O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek . . . to be understood, as to understand”?

To truly understand those around me, I have to see them.  I have to learn to look beyond my preconceptions.  I have to push aside the solutions to their problems that I have already devised.  I have to go in open and ready to listen.  I have to listen both to those I would help and also to He who Guides Me.

Not an easy task, but one that I hope to one day to be worthy to fill.  Until then, I’ll continue to pray.