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A Prayer of Peace

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A Prayer of Peace

       Tonight I want to introduce and suggest a prayer that I want us to pray, in coincidence with our stance on communication, conflict resolution, and the fact that we believe “relationships are everything”.

       To get to this prayer, I need to take a circuitous route or roundabout way, but hang with me—because I’m going somewhere.

       One of the things that distinguish me from many other conservative Bible studiers is the fact that I believe in the importance of tracing our heritage to its proper source.  When we begin to trace our heritage, we seldom drag our pencil far enough in the past.

·        Our heritage did not begin with D. L. Moody and other Evangelicals.

·        Our heritage did not begin with William Seymour and the Pentecostal revival.

·        Our heritage did not begin with those Christian leaders over the past 2,000 years.

·        Our heritage didn’t really begin with the Early Church of Acts.

·        Our heritage began and grew out of the Israelite religion of the Old Testament.

With that being said, it should be easier for you to see that our heritage includes the original church, which issued into the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches.  The Roman Catholic Church may be in error, but that doesn’t eliminate them from being our religious parents!  We should acknowledge that heritage and seek to learn from it.

The “Back to the Bible” movement of the last part of the 20th century had admirable motives, but questionable methodology.  We want to get back to the truth of the Bible, but we can’t get there by skipping over all of the learning of the past 2,000 years.  To do so is shortsighted and arrogant!

(So, tonight I want to use a prayer from a man by the name of Saint Francis of Assisi.)

St. Francis of Assisi was the founder of the Franciscan Order of the Roman Catholic Church, born at Assisi in Umbria, in 1181 or 1182 -- the exact year is uncertain; died there, October 3, 1226.

His father, Pietro Bernardone, was a wealthy Assisian cloth merchant.  Of his mother, Pica, little is known, but she is said to have belonged to a noble family of Provence.  Francis was one of several children.


Thomas of Celano, his first biographer, speaks in very severe terms of Francis’s youth.  Certain it is that the saint’s early life gave no presage of the golden years that were to come.  No one loved pleasure more than Francis; he had a ready wit, sang merrily, delighted in fine clothes and showy display.  Handsome, gallant, and courteous, he soon became the prime favorite among the young nobles of Assisi, the foremost in every feat of arms, the leader of the civil revels, the very king of frolic.  But even at this time Francis showed an instinctive sympathy with the poor, and though he spent money lavishly, it still flowed in such channels as to attest a princely magnanimity of spirit.

Francis eventually pursued a military career, but during this time, he had two dreams that turned him towards the Lord!

He eventually developed followers, who like children “careless of the day”, they wandered from place to place singing in their joy, and calling themselves the Lord’s minstrels.  The wide world was their cloister; sleeping in haylofts, grottos, or church porches, they toiled with the laborers in the fields, and when none gave them work they would beg.  In a short while Francis and his companions gained an immense influence and men of different grades of life and ways of thought flocked to the order.  (Principal source - Catholic Encyclopedia - 1913 edition.)

(I want to consider:)

The Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your 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;

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.[1]

       I have been praying this prayer for some time, because it captures my biblical belief and value system concerning communication, conflict resolution, peace, and the value of “relationships being everything”.

(Let me comment briefly on each phrase.)

       “Lord make me an instrument of your peace.”  Peace in this usage represents harmony between people!  We are called to the ministry of reconciliation.

       “Where there is hatred, let me sow love.”  Jesus said, “Pray for those who despitefully use you!”  Jesus also exhorted His followers to love their enemies!  Loving those who love us is natural.  Loving those who hate us is supernatural!

       “Where there is injury, let me sow pardon.”  We are to pardon and forgive those who injure us.  English Poet, Alexander Pope, wrote:  “To err is Human; to forgive is divine.”  You know that Jesus told Peter to forgive 7 x 70.

       “Where there is doubt, let me sow faith.”  How often do we see doubt around us?  All the time!  Every time we see doubt, we want to sow faith into that situation.

       “Where there is despair, let me sow hope.”  Despair is hopelessness!  Everywhere that we see and experience hopelessness, we want to sow hope.  Hope is 2. much more frequent in the classics, and always in the N.T., in a good sense: “expectation of good, hope”; and in the Christian sense, “joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation”: —Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon

       “Where there is darkness, let me sow light.”  We are in a battle with darkness.  Paul wrote in

Ephesians 6:12 (NASB), “12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (bold type added).


But we are to be and sow light every time we find ourselves in the present of darkness!

Matthew 5:14-16 (NASB), “14 You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

We are to be the spiritual, moral, intellectual light of the world!

       “Where there is sadness, let me sow joy.”  There is so much sadness in this world!  There is so much chasing of happiness in the world!  However, God want us to sow joy, i.e. emotional buoyancy in the face of things that push us and others under the troubled waters of life!

(The next three requests are about putting others before oneself.  In each of these requests, the word “grant” alerts us to the fact that the source of these actions is supernatural.)

       “O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console.”  Self-preservation is one of our most powerful drives, but self-sacrifice is the new drive that comes from the power of the Holy Spirit.  Through that power, we want to console those who are hurting!

       “O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be understood, as to understand.  We constantly seek to be heard and understood.  So, we need God to help us move against the normal tide of Humanity!  In addition, whether we understand it or not, when we seek to transmit understanding, then others will be more inclined to listen to us, although that is not our primary motive!

       “O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be loved as to love.”  We all want to be loved, but Jesus has exhorted us to give love rather than seek love.  The source of this kind of love is the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit.  When we love others, we are exemplifying the tremendous love of the Godhead.


(Saint Francis ends this prayer with three paradoxes.)

       “For it is in giving that we receive.”  This is a paradox that is not practiced or understood by selfish American people.  We don’t understand how hoarding leads to a poverty of spirit and attitude.  We don’t understand how giving puts us in a position to receive far more than material!

       “It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.”  This is a major paradox.  When we don’t pardon or forgive others, we find ourselves bound to the negative pain of the one we want to get away from.  To free ourselves from the transgression and pain of others, we need to forgive them.  Jesus covered this, when He said in

Mark 11:25-26 (NASB), “25 Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. 26 [But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.]”

This certainly does not mean that God will withhold forgiveness if we don’t forgive, but that we will not be able to experience the freedom of forgiveness, when we are hold others hostage.  It is in pardoning that we are pardoned!

       “It is dying that we are born to eternal life.”  Even though we probably understand this paradox better than others, because it has been talked about more, we continue to want eternal life without entering through the portal of death.  Unless Jesus comes in the rapture, the only way to enter into eternal life is through death.  Now, this not only refers to natural death, but to spiritual death.  We must all submit to the death of crucifixion or brokenness that is typified all through the Bible:

(In the Tabernacle, we see:)

·        How crushed olives released the oil that would be used to produce the light of life.

·        How grain is ground to fine flour as an ingredient of the bread of life.

·        How grapes are crushed to produce gladdening wine of life.

·        How the perfume of life is made out of crushed ingredients.


(Furthermore, we see:)

·        How Gideon’s army smashed vessels to reveal burning lights of life.

·        How the woman broke the alabaster vial to release the perfume of life.

·        How Jesus was crucified to release eternal life; and

·        How the veil in the Temple was torn in two to give us access into God’s living presence.

Thank God for this outstanding prayer!

(Now is the Day of Salvation!  Come to Jesus, now!)

Invitation

Call to Discipleship


----

[1] Daniel G. Amen, Healing the Hardware of the Soul, The Free Press, New York, New York, 2002, p. 201.

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