If we had to pick just one prayer to fit the needs and gifts in the workplace today, that prayer would probably be The Prayer of St. Francis. Though it is profoundly Christian, the Prayer of St. Francis is quoted and used by people of many faiths. It has been sung beautifully by Sarah Mac Lachlen and set to exquisite photos of love in action in daily life. And though it was probably not written until many years after the death of St. Francis, it definitely expresses his mission that is still so relevant today.
The original Prayer of St. Francis is posted in many cubicles and kept in many desk drawers.
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;
and 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.
Hatred, love and every other element of the prayer of St. Francis shows up at work today.
Hatred shows up in not just in physical violence or screaming hatred, but also in all ways we can harm others through our work. Racial, sexual and other harassment or discrimination are definitely forms of hatred. So are rudeness and fraud. Theft. Lying about a product or service’s value. Any types of lies.
Hatred also extends to deliberate un-caring, which includes carelessness or indifference. Or helping others commit fraud, waste or abuse.
Obviously, we can’t give our love at work the way we would a child or spouse or close friend, but we can love through our work by doing a task carefully — as if we were doing it for our beloved. We can love by blessings our tasks and bringing all our consciousness to the work.
Being kind an compassionate to vendors, bosses and colleagues is a powerful way to love through work. So is confronting fraud, waste and abuse because we care more about the well-being of others than we fear retaliation for speaking truth to power.
In 2006, my husband John and I taught a class on spirituality and work, using the Prayer of St. Francis as a starting point or touchstone for making our work our prayer, our prayer our work.
Here’s our prayer for today’s workplace realities, based on the Prayer of St. Francis.
Make me an instrument of peace at work.
Where there are indifference or hatred, let me sow compassion and love.
Where there are fraud, waste, and abuse, let me sow accountability and help restore justice.
Where there are stress and burnout, help me sow purpose and divine calm.
Where there are darkness and confusion, help me find wisdom and clear sight.
Where there is sadness, help me promote healing and joy.
May all my tasks be done in harmony with all Creation.
May I always work in balance, true to myself and my purpose, on the level with others, giving to others, loving others, as I give to and love myself.
May my workplace be sacred space, where peaceful, divine order ripples out from each small act that I do, right here, right now, and always.
How does the prayer of St. Francis inspire your own workday prayer?
How can you put it What’s your prayer for your current realities around work?
As always, many blessing, Pat McHenry Sullivan.
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