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Prayer of Saint Francis

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. 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.

This prayer is commonly attributed to 13th century saint Francis of Assisi. Though it cannot be found in its current form further back than 1912, when it was published in a French magazine called La Ligue de la Saint-Messe (The League of the Holy Mass), the attribution continues. The real author’s name was not given. Dr. Christian Renoux, a professor at the University of New Orleans, conducted a thorough study into the history and background of the prayer and concludes it was first printed on the back of an image of St. Francis, without attribution. Because it was written on the back of Francis’ image, it has been assigned to him. The Quaker magazine Friends’ Intelligencer published the prayer under the mistaken title of “A Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.”

The prayer does have similarities to one written by Blessed Giles of Assisi, one of the companions of St. Francis. This lends to the myth of its authorship. But at the end of the day, it is not the author of the prayer that matters, but the words themselves. So why not pause right now, take a deep breath, and say them with me . . .

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. 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.

 

The Rushmore Report: Trump Calls on Carson to Lead Cabinet Prayer, Media Still Doesn’t Get It

Nothing is more offensive to the mainstream media than public prayer. Unless that prayer is offered by the President or a cabinet member – as was done regularly by a fellow named George Washington. But Trump is no Washington, and today’s media is not the Colonial Times of the 1700s. So what was it about the prayer that threw the media for a loop?

Trump called on HUD Secretary Ben Carson to lead the prayer shortly after Congress passed sweeping tax changes last week. The president encouraged the media to stay in the room for the prayer in typical Trumpian fashion. He told them, “You need the prayer more than I do.” Then, turning to Carson, Trump said, “Maybe a good solid prayer and they’ll be honest, Ben, is that possible?” he joked, pointing at reporters in the Cabinet room.

In his prayer, Carson thanked God “for a President and for cabinet members who are courageous, who are willing to face the winds of controversy in order to provide a better future for those who come behind us” and for “the unity in Congress” that brought about passage of the Republican tax reform legislation. He also thanked God for the current economic expansion “so we can fight the corrosive debt that has been destroying our future.”

That is where Carson seems to have crossed the line for many in the media.

It seems that while Mr. Carson was leading  the prayer, not every member of the media was praying along. MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell commented on the “unusual nature” of Carson’s prayer. She said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that in the Cabinet room, other than a White House prayer breakfast.”

White House correspondent Kristin Welker agreed. She said, “It was striking to see everyone bow their heads in that context.” USA Today senior politics reporter Heidi Przybyla piled on, adding her criticism of the tax bill itself.

For the media who finds a simple prayer in the Cabinet to be “unusual,” you wonder how they would have responded to Washington’s comment that “It shall be impossible to properly lead any government without prayer,” or Abe Lincoln’s view of Scripture, as “God’s divine light for leading his people.”

Perhaps a Muslim prayer would have been less offensive. Or better yet, no prayer at all.

 

Follow the Star

Today is the most special day of the year. I’m sure you have your family traditions, without which Christmas would not be Christmas: big family breakfast, opening the stockings, reading the Christmas Story, and opening your presents. Then you save the best for last, as you gather the family around the tree to read this daily column. No Christmas would be complete without it.

So let’s talk about tradition. When I was a child, mom made bacon-wrapped scallops for Christmas Day. (What says Christmas like scallops?) Then we would open our stuff. Dad would put our toys together, and we’d play the rest of the day. I’ll never forget the Christmas when my brother and I played tennis all afternoon, with our new Wilson T-2000 aluminum rackets.

Let me suggest another tradition. Pray. That’s it. Pray. Take just ten minutes sometime today, and pray. Tell God you are grateful for the gift of his son. Pray. Rejoice in the blessings you enjoy. Pray. Confess your sins. Pray. Commit your heart, your life, yourself to the Christmas Child. Pray.

Merry Christmas!

“Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:2).

The Rushmore Report: Mike Pence Responds to Texas Church Shooting

Vice President Mike Pence has responded to critics who have questioned the usefulness of prayer following last Sunday’s mass shooting at a church in Texas which left 26 people dead. “Right now, I truly believe that covering those families in prayer is making a difference in their lives, and it will continue to support those families and that community in the days ahead,” Pence told Fox News in an interview.

Online debate has unfurled across Twitter and other platforms in the wake of the massacre at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, with some suggesting that prayer does not work if it can’t protect Christians at church.

“I’m a believer. I believe in prayer and I know that at this moment of such heartbreak and loss in that community that what most Americans are most able to do is pray for those families,” Pence said.

The vice president added, however, that prayer takes “nothing away from our determination to get to the bottom of what happened, to understand the why, to determine whether or not there were errors along the way.”

Authorities are investigating if and in what way existing laws and background checks were not properly applied to shooter Devin Kelley, who illegally purchased the guns he used in last week’s attack.

House Speaker Paul Ryan told Fox News in a separate interview that he stands by his offers of prayer, even though he was specifically targeted for his tweets.

Former “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Stand By Me” actor Wil Wheaton lashed out and wrote in response to Ryan’s prayer tweet earlier this week: “The murdered victims were in a church. If prayers did anything, they’d still be alive, you worthless sack of [expletive].”

Wheaton later apologized and explained he wasn’t trying to attack people of faith, though prayer continues being criticized in debates online.

“It’s disappointing. It’s sad, and this is what you’ll get from the far secular left. People who do not have faith don’t understand faith, I guess I’d have to say,” Ryan told Fox.

He added, “And it is the right thing to do – to pray in moments like this because you know what? Prayer works.”

The House Speaker blamed the “secular left” for much of the “polarization and disunity” in the country due to sentiments like that.

Prominent pastors, such as Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside and Irvine, California, told The Christian Post that while it is hard to understand God’s role in tragedies like church shootings, prayer is far from ineffective.

“The Bible does not promise anyone a pain-free life. In fact, Jesus himself said, ‘In this world you will have tribulation’ (John 16:33). Here is what I do know: these people that were gathered for worship at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, believed in and loved Jesus Christ,” Laurie added.

He said that the victims are now in God’s presence, “where there is ‘fullness of joy’ and ‘pleasures forevermore’ (Psalm 16:11). All of their questions are answered; our questions will have to wait.”

Pastor Ronnie Floyd, president of National Day of Prayer and senior pastor of Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas, separately told CP: “In this fallen world when the spirit of evil is raging, all things that happen are not good. Yet, our faith and hope remain in God alone. When we pray, we are depending on God for strength; when we do not pray, we choose to depend upon ourselves, which always leads to unbelief.”

About the Author

Stoyan Zaimov is a writer for The Christian Post.

C. S. Lewis

One of the most prominent minds of the 20th century was philosopher and author C. S. Lewis. As a young man, he met Joy Greshem, a poet. They established a strong friendship that grew into love. They eventually married, then Joy was diagnosed with cancer. After a hard battle, she died. But there were may ups and downs along the way.

During a period when Joy was responding well to treatment, a colleague of Lewis’ approached him with words of praise. “I know how hard you’ve prayed. God is answering your prayers,” he said.

Lewis replied, “I didn’t pray for that. I prayed because I can’t help myself. The power of prayer isn’t that it changes my circumstances, but that it changes my heart.”

Most of us practice what I call “outcome prayers.” We pray in order for God to change an outcome. But real spiritual maturity is marked by the man or woman who prays in order to get in touch with the Father out of a desire to change their heart.

Joy still died. But C. S. Lewis went on to change the world. But before he changed the world, God changed his heart.

How People Pray

Let’s tackle three issues about prayer. First, why do Christians put their hands together when they pray? This custom is not rooted in the Bible, but in Roman culture. In the ninth century, a man would put his hands together as a symbol of submission, and it was accepted by the Christian Church.

Second, did you know that people used to say “grace” before each meal? In ancient times, food spoiled quickly, sometimes causing death. Nomadic tribes were often poisoned from eating bad food. Before a meal, they would ask the gods to protect them, and after a meal, they thanked their gods for the “grace” by which they were still among the living.

Third, why do we say “amen” after a prayer? The word “amen” appears 13 times in the Old Testament and 119 times in the New Testament. The word originated in Egypt around 2500 B.C. It meant “hidden one.” That evolved to mean “so it is,” and was passed down to both Christians and Muslims.

And here’s a fourth question. If we really believe in the power of prayer and in the God of the universe, why don’t we pray more? I wish I had a good answer to that one.

The Rushmore Report: What Do Most Americans Pray For?

No matter how politics or culture changes, a majority of Americans say they’ve prayed at least one time in the last three months, according to a study just released by the Barna Group. Barna researchers surveyed 1,015 American adults ages 18 and older, 888 of whom identified themselves as Christians. Respondents were asked to answer: “What does the content of your prayers most often pertain to?”

The data shows that 62 percent of respondents who pray regularly do so “with varying motivations, the most common being to offer gratitude and thanksgiving.” Eighty-two percent say they most often pray silently and when they are by themselves.

Expressing gratitude in prayer is highest among baby boomers at 71 percent and is lowest among millennials at 53 percent.

The “needs of their family and community” are a prayer topic for Americans, with 61 percent identifying it as a motivator, and 49 percent pray out of a need for “personal guidance in crisis.”

Nearly 90 percent of praying American adults direct their prayers to “God” although they don’t all pray to the same deity. Addressing “God” was the most common response among almost every segment surveyed.

Only 24 percent pray for their government. (The other 76 percent have apparently given up.)

Roxanne Stone, Barna Group’s Editor-in-Chief, said, “Prayer is by far the most common spiritual practice among Americans.”

No matter how politics or culture shift, Americans keep on praying. Stone continued, “The vast majority of Americans – no matter their religious affiliation or non-affiliation – participate in some kind of prayer activity. Barna has found this to be true consistently over the last several decades. The numbers have barely changed from year to year.”

Stone added that it is good news that people have “active and personal” prayer lives and are “engaging with God outside their houses of worship and around the most intimate and vulnerable areas of their lives.”

She asked, “But what would it look like to begin to broaden the scope of those prayer lives? To consider the power of corporate prayer – when more than one are gathered in God’s name?”

Unanswered Prayers

We often concern ourselves with things we cannot control. A nervous passenger on an ocean liner asked the captain what would happen if the ship hit an iceberg.

“Nothing,” said the captain. “The iceberg would keep on floating as if nothing happened.”

That great theologian Garth Brooks understood this when he wrote the song, Thank God for Unanswered Prayers. I can identify with that.

I remember the girl I had a crush on in high school. I prayed that she would marry me some day. It didn’t work out, and I was devastated. Then, a few years later, I saw her at a psych hospital. (No, I wasn’t a patient.) I barely recognized her, as 50 percent of her wasn’t there when I had seen her last. I bowed and prayed, “Thank you, Jesus, for unanswered prayers!”

Life is like a parade. We see what is in front of us. But God sees the whole parade.

Even the best head football coach wears a headset. That is so the other coaches up high in the press box, with a much better view of the whole field, can tell him what is really happening on the field.

So thank God for one of his greatest gifts: unanswered prayers.

Praying Lions

The man was an experienced mountain climber, hiker, and outdoorsman. But this day would be unlike any other in his entire life. Lost, searching for a way down, he spotted a lion nearby. Worse yet, the lion spotted him. The lion started his approach. The man had no chance to escape. So he prayed.

He said, “God, you can see I’m in trouble here. I’m lost and I’m stuck. There is a lion coming, and he looks really hungry. If you get me out of this mess, I’ll do anything you want me to do. I’ll give to the poor, I’ll be a better husband, I’ll be a good father, and I’ll even go to church this Easter. Just get me out of this mess.”

When he finished his prayer, he looked up. It was a miracle! Just as he prayed, the lion stopped. The lion sat. And then the lion prayed.

“Wow! A praying lion!” the man thought to himself. “This lion must be a Christian!”

Then he heard the lion’s prayer. “Lord, thank you for this meal you have prepared for me.”

Don’t worry. No animals (or people) were hurt in the telling of this joke. But you can get hurt, really badly. How? By waiting until you are in trouble before you pray.

Too Much Caffeine

If you get a tax refund of $2,000, you can do one of two things with that money. First, you can use it to make a good down payment on a new car. Or you can do what millions do every day, and buy one cup of coffee at Starbucks.

If you have $10,000, you can get five cups. But take it easy on the caffeine. I’m not a coffee drinker but I can recognize one anywhere. They are the ones bouncing off the walls. The other day, I saw a man who was so high on caffeine that he was duck hunting with a rake. Too much caffeine.

You know you’ve had too much coffee when you find yourself answering the door before the doorbell rings or you have converted your car’s radiator to brew a pot on the way to work.

You’ve had too much coffee if Juan Valdez names his donkey after you, or you can play ping-pong without a partner. Your coffee filters are monogrammed. You chew on other people’s fingernails. Your eyes stay open when you sneeze.

And you know you’ve had too much coffee when you can jump start your car without cables or you can photograph yourself ten feet away without a timer. Or maybe you ski uphill.

Perhaps it’s time to lay off the coffee and just start your day the way Jesus did.

“While it was early in the morning, Jesus went into a mountain by himself, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35).