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DAVID ADAMS finds all is not quite what it seems with the prayer known to many as the Prayer of St Francis


WRONG ATTRIBUTUON? The Prayer for Peace is often attributed to St Francis but the evidence suggests it may date from the early 20th century. PICTURE © Steve Knight/

“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;

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;

It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.”

So runs one version of the Prayer for Peace which is often attributed to St Francis of Assisi (and which was also apparently a favorite prayer of Mother Teresa).

Also known as the Prayer of St Francis and the Peace Prayer, the prayer’s origins are somewhat murky – while it is generally attributed to the 13th century saint, it apparently can’t be found in written form before the early 20th century when it appeared anonymously in a French devotional publication. It was apparently first attributed to St Francis in the 1920s (it had been written on the back of an image of him) while the first English translation appeared in the 1930s.

It has subsequently been associated with many high profile Christians including not only Mother Teresa (she even mentioned it when receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979), but South African clergyman Desmond Tutu (who said it was an integral part of his devotions) and politcians like former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and former US President Bill Clinton. It has also apparently been adapted for use in Alcoholics Anonymous.

The prayer references the transformational hope that God brings into our life; our human frailties overturned and replaced as we draw close to Him. It’s a powerful declaration of who we want to be as Christians and its simple yet powerful format makes it ideal for daily reflection.

Has a great Christian prayer particularly inspired or challenged you? Leave a comment below or send an email to [email protected] to let us know. 


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