“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).

Alan Payton prayed, “O Lord, save me from anxiety, and if we are anxious, let us commit ourselves to you more fully, to be used as instruments of your peace, so that we learn to be less concerned about ourselves and more concerned about others.” As we come to God in prayer, our minds sometimes flood with all sorts of nasty scenarios. Someone has described it as “little rats’ claws of anxiety scurrying up and down my spirit.”

In the turmoil of apartheid South Africa, Payton observed that when we commit ourselves to pray as St. Francis did, asking to become instruments of God’s peace, “We do not have much time to worry about ourselves. In the end, we may cease to worry about ourselves altogether.” This insight freed him to continue his life of action and reconciliation. It’s no wonder so many have embraced the Prayer of St. Francis:

“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; not so much to be understood as to understand; not so much to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.”

Adapted from The One Year Book of Encouragement