Prayer of Saint Francis: Lord

 

Lord,

Make me an instrument of Thy Peace; 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; and where there is sadness, joy. 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; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

(This prayer is attributed to Saint Francis. He was born in 1181 or 1182 into a wealthy family in Assisi, Umbria. He grew up in comfort, turned into a rowdy youth, and eventually looked for glory on the battlefield. His life plan altered when he encountered God. In prayer, he heard God tell him to rebuild the church. He devoted himself to a life of prayer, poverty and service. He is the founder of the Order of Friars Minor (OFM), usually called the Franciscans. He died in 1226 after a life of prayer, poverty, and service. His life, work, and words have inspired countless numbers of people.)

 

Lord

I don’t use this term much outside of A Song of Ice and Fire and Lord of the Rings conversations. It’s an antique word that evokes images of knights, castles, queens, and serfs. Outside British royalty, real or fictional, the only Lord I’ve heard of recently is Lord Voldemort – not a great credit to the title.

The only other place I use Lord is in prayer. Lord Jesus, Gracious Lord, Lord God. When I say and pray Lord, I’m admitting and accepting that someone else is in charge. I am serving someone other than myself. I am not the ruler of the universe, just a servant in the kingdom that is this creation. Sometimes I am at peace with this, and sometimes I’m not.

Jesus says that “no one can serve two masters,” that I “cannot serve God and wealth”(Mt.6:23) The underlying assumption is that I am serving someone or something. It might be money or fame; it could be a worthy cause or a particular country. Knowingly or not, I serve something or someone. I suspect this is true. If it is, then I’d better choose my Lord carefully…

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Johnna

I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

2 thoughts on “Prayer of Saint Francis: Lord”

  1. I am very happy you have chosen to reflect on this most wonderful of all prayers! Unlike many clergy and others in our faith today, I have no problem with “Lord” “Lord and Master” “Father” though I understand the chilling effect it might have on some and of course that is the issue. For me it is, as you say , a simple acknowledgement of just who is in charge in my life. If we are to use the Lord’s Prayer as our guide from Jesus in response to “teach us to pray” we understand “Lord” and “Father” in a new relationship not tainted with earthly definitions or the behavior of human parents and rulers. Sometimes I tire of our efforts to get the words to fit the situation and not changing the situation to fit the words. Of course I’m old, so even “Father, Son and Holy Ghost” still evoke great reverence for me.

    1. Hi Bill,
      It’s amazing what power words have, especially ones we say in prayer. Hurt or heal can happen with the same phrase, depending on the situation and the speaker/hearer. Thank you for your thoughts! Peace, Johnna

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