The one where I cheated

So I cheated. A little.

I identified “worship” as a key Franciscan theme, though I think you could make a better case for “prayer”. But I didn’t want a framework with 3 Ps (with poverty and peace), 2 Cs (creation and community) and a random W (witness). So here we are.

But using “worship” as the term has value, beyond the alliterative consistency. Francis prayed a lot, in a lot of settings. He frequently went off on his own to pray, for weeks at a time, in some cases. He prayed with his brothers. He prayed in liturgical worship (though he was not himself a priest).

Francis prayed a lot differently than I do, though, and his prayer looked a lot more like worship. Because, for me, and maybe for some of you, prayer is either all about me – here are the things I need and here are the things I’m feeling and (at best) here are the people in my life you need to do stuff for, God – or sometimes, it’s about us – time spent in the presence of the Divine Other. But Francis, based on what he wrote and what his compatriots recall about him, spent most of his prayer time focused on God – going through all the different ways God is incredible – and that focusing of the mind on who God is looks a lot more like worship than it does my laundry list prayer.

So what?

I have a tendency to get caught up in myself. Maybe you do too. Praying for other people helps me decenter myself, but only to a point. At the end of the day, I spend most of my prayer forgetting who I claim to be talking with, and instead just prattle on about my stuff. If I were more like Francis, more worshipful in my prayer, maybe it would be less a desperate play to make God conform to my hopes and more an opportunity for God to conform me to God’s hopes for me.

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