A friar-colleague once posited that St. Francis of Assisi, “was a blank screen on which we project our own impressions.” Fair enough—so here’s my projection. Though Francis of Assisi is celebrated for his love of the natural world, I feel that he could also be known as the patron saint of humble prayer.
Francis understood the spiritual and psychological toll that modern life could bring. His tired feet carried him to faraway lands to spread the Gospel, and yet he craved solitude so acutely he would hide out in caves to recharge. Understandable given the task laid before him: He was a repository of the good news and a channel by which that news spread to the world. Little wonder he craved solitude!
But none of his life’s work would have been possible without a vibrant and complex prayer life. Though medieval to his core, Francis struggled with social ills not uncommon today: political infighting, civil unrest, even disease that lurked along the periphery. He struggled as his order grew, carrying the weight of his calling even when his body began to fail him. How did he cope with these burdens? How did he recenter?
By all accounts, he prayed. Through prayer, he celebrated the world around him: (“All praise be yours, my Lord, through all that you have made.”) It is where he longed for peace: (“Happy those who endure in peace, by you, Most High, they will be crowned.”) And it was how he embraced his own mortality: (“All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Death, from whose embrace no mortal can escape.”) Prayer was both Francis’s compass and his destination: his every step and his journey’s end.
We at Franciscan Media understand the importance of prayer and how difficult it can be to fit it into a day. Thus, we created a free resource to remedy that, a daily email called Pause+Pray, offering gentle coaching each morning to start the day prayerfully. It was so popular that it was adapted into this book.
We think Francis of Assisi would be proud. Because prayer, to him, wasn’t simply communion with the divine. It was his sacred call to action. And that’s how each prayer is structured in these pages. We encourage you to pause—to quiet the noise in and around you. Then you are guided to reflect on a theme, pray on it, and perhaps greet the world with different eyes.
I like to think that Francis, in the recesses of a cave or a hermitage somewhere in central Italy, felt a kind of reset after prayer. It obviously fueled his leadership of the order. “The friars…should work in a spirit of faith and devotion and avoid idleness,” he wrote, “which is the enemy of the soul, without however extinguishing the spirit of prayer and devotion, to which every temporal consideration must be subordinate.”
This book is a humble continuation of that directive. Family, career ambition, the search for joy or wellness or meaning—all noble pursuits. But unless they are built on a foundation of prayer, how strong is that foundation? Prayer fortifies. It clarifies. It gives us direction and the permission to start over. So, in the spirit of Francis of Assisi, let us begin again….