Sometimes we learn best by modeling those who go before us. We can learn by our own experiences; we can learn by the experiences and counsel of others. One way to grow in prayer: emulate those who pray easily and naturally and simple. Here’s a beautiful prayer often attributed to the 13th-century 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.
There’s an upside down and backward virtue in following Jesus. As Jesus himself taught, we are first only when we are last; we lead when we serve. Francis understand that our best prayers grow from truths that God himself has already communicated to us and demonstrated for us - In prayer we ask God to fulfill what we know God values! For the best prayers echo God’s heart! Francis seems to have understood this.
Can I do the same?