goodencenter Using the Saint Francis Assisi Prayer in Recovery photo of praying womanThe Saint Francis Assisi Prayer, often used as an 11th Step Prayer in Alcoholics Anonymous, is an immensely popular and empowering prayer used in recovery.

Anyone moving through recovery will eventually encounter the prayer and will get to work through its significance and impact on their spirituality, life, and outlook.

If you’re just starting your recovery journey, finding context and adding meaning to the Saint Francis Assisi Prayer can help you to utilize it. The prayer is inspirational, and with popular recordings of it set to music by popular musicians like Bing Crosby, Sarah McLachlan, and even Dream Theater, can be listened to and enjoyed in a wide variety of formats.

What is the Prayer of Saint Francis Assisi?

The Saint Francis Assisi prayer is a short prayer about finding forgiveness, uplifting others, and finding hope in light of problems. The prayer reads:

goodencenter-Using-the-Saint-Francis-Assisi-Prayer-in-Recovery-photo-of-man-standing-facing-sunset“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is offence, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
O Master, let me not seek as much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love,
for it is in giving that one receives,
it is in self-forgetting that one finds,
it is in pardoning that one is pardoned,
it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.”

While the prayer is called the “Saint Francis Assisi Prayer”, we actually don’t know who wrote it. Instead, it’s been traced as far back as 1912, at a French spiritual magazine. It may have been written by the Saint; it may not have been. That doesn’t detract from its power and inspiration. That holds true from the prayer’s usage in popular song, to its pillar placement as part of the 11th step, or even to its foundation in our Government by Speakers of the House like Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner, who used the prayer at pivotal moments of their careers, to reflect that they were in God’s hands. That powerful moment of acknowledgement of God, which is at the center of this prayer, will hopefully become yours as you progress through your 12-step program and your recovery.

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Saint Francis’ Prayer and AA


Alcoholics Anonymous adopted Saint Francis’ prayer early on. The prayer was widely circulated, starting in 1918, with a postcard-style print with the prayer on one side and an icon of the Saint on the other. It was heavily popularized during WW2, during which time, it was adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous.

AA eventually incorporated Saint Francis’s Prayer into the Big Book. Today, it is so much a part of the self-help group that its alternative title is the “11th Step Prayer”. And, when you make it to the 11th Step, it will become a big part of your journey.

And, today, you can easily ask your peers at AA about this prayer, what it means to them, and how they use it in their own recovery for more inspiration.

Discovering the Plan God Has for Your Life

Saint Francis Assisi’s prayer is about letting go, about asking God for guidance, and for forgetting the ego and the self in the search for God, for forgiveness, and for eternal life in heaven. This is well outlined in the prayer, which begins with a request to God for Him to make the speaker His instrument.

Acknowledging Your Weakness – The 11th step is traditionally about rediscovering spirituality and God through prayer and meditation. Here, you are expected to acknowledge God as a higher power and relax into giving him the figurative reigns to controlling your life. In asking God to make you an instrument of HIs peace, you are asking Him to grant you the wisdom to act in His name, as He would want, and acknowledging that you do not have the capacity to do so on your own.

Letting Go of the Ego – Many of us need and strive to be loved, accepted, to be right. The Ego, as outlined by Freud, is a powerful driver in how we act. But, as we turn to God, there is little place for the Ego. It is never right to let go of the full sense of self, but God asks us to acknowledge that we are all but a tiny part of the whole. A single soul in a mass of 7 billion brothers and sisters across the globe. No one can do it alone. No one will ever be complete without family, love, and community. The second half of the Saint Francis Assisi prayer is a reminder that in finding others, we find ourselves. When we give, we receive, when we acknowledge, we are acknowledged, and when we love, we are loved.

The 11th step requires sitting down, using prayer as a form of meditation, and finding quiet to think, to reflect, and simply to be. Hopefully, during this time, the Prayer will provide powerful inspiration to connect with and move into those ideas, to acknowledge that God is the one who knows what is best for you and how to get you there, and to continue your journey from being an inward focused addict towards an outward focused member of your community.

The Prayer of Saint Francis Assisi is based on love, acceptance, and acknowledgement of God. It’s about asking for help in the face of adversity. It’s about acknowledging that you don’t have all the answers and you need guidance to be God’s servant. And, it’s about acknowledging that the future you want to build for yourself lies not entirely within you, but also in your community, family, and friends. The prayer is in part entreaty to God for help, in part acknowledgement that you are not complete without God and community, and in part a commitment to allow God and His help into your life.

If you’re moving into recovery, hopefully the Saint Francis Assisi Prayer offers a valuable font of hope, inspiration, and motivation.

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