Sometimes (actually most times) when I read or hear about the suffering and struggle in our world I find that my own words in prayer seem to come up short in my desire to express grief and sorrow and beg God break into our world and provide God’s healing by establishing the grace, mercy, and justice of the Kingdom of God on earth. Perhaps you’re like me and wonder if our words and prayers can ever be sufficient. First, the answer is yes…however small or imperfect or seemingly petty our prayers may seem, the mystery of prayer is that we are called to speak them and trust the God hears them and they are both sufficient and pleasing to God (regardless of whether or not they appear to be answered.)
But in times like these – when my own words seem insufficient – I’m immensely grateful for the great “cloud of witnesses,” followers of Christ who have gone before me and who can teach me how to pray and provide words and prayers for me to speak. Today is one of those days that I’m relying on the words of others who have gone before me to shape my prayers and give words to the cry of my heart. As I reflect on the violence, instability, war, terrorism, hatred, dishonesty, pride, ambition, offensiveness, folly, fear, and racism that are so evident in our world (and newspapers this morning) I cling to the words and prayers of St. Francis. St. Francis’ words are my words today…and I offer them to you in the event you would like to make them yours.
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring 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.
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 tat we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”