The Prayer of St. Francis

Prayer of Francis of Assisi

 I learned this prayer in church as a child.  The language used by my particular denomination is only slightly different from the version printed in the “Twelve by Twelve” shown below. E.g., “instrument” versus “channel”; “injury” versus “discord”; or, “Divine Master” versus “Lord.”  But the meaning is always the same and the message is clear and powerful.

It was not until I joined our fellowship however, that I came to really appreciate the significance of this prayer. Having lived for many years with the terrible feelings of guilt, shame and remorse that many of us suffer, I find the language “…by forgiving that one is forgiven…” to be especially comforting.

After I began this journey I “hid” from my very best friend.  We have known each other for 40 years and had been through “thick and thin” together. Nevertheless I was embarrassed and did not want to be around anyone wherein I would have to acknowledge my “weaknesses” and all the havoc that I had wrought.  He called me dozens of times but I never returned his calls.  He finally wrote to my wife.  She later showed me his letter. In it he had remarked that maybe when I learned to forgive myself I would contact him again.  I have forgiven myself a great deal since then thanks to AA and though I never wish to “shut the door on the [past]” we have rekindled our friendship.

I think the following is a wonderful prayer anytime and in these troubled days it seems particularly poignant.  Ed.

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  Its author was a man who for several hundred years now has been rated as a saint. We won’t be biased or scared off by that fact, because although he was not an alcoholic he did, like us, go through the emotional wringer. And as he came out the other side of that painful experience, this prayer was his expression of what he could then see, feel, and wish to become:

  “Lord, make me a channel of thy peace–that where there is hatred, I may bring love–that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness–that where there is discord, I may bring harmony–that where there is error, I may bring truth–that where there is doubt, I may bring faith–that where there is despair, I may bring hope–that where there are shadows, I may bring light–that where there is sadness, I may bring joy. Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted–to understand, than to be understood–to love, than to be loved. For it is by self-forgetting that one finds. It is by forgiving that one is forgiven. It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life. Amen.”

1 Alcoholics Anonymous, The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism, Fourth Edition, New and Revised 2001, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., New York City, p. 83.

2 The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Alcoholics Anonymous® World Services, Inc., 459 Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163, Copyright 1981, 48th printing, 2009, p. 99.