A Prayer of St. Francis for Autism

by Tim on April 1, 2010

It’s April, so welcome to Autism Awareness Month! I wanted to start things off by coming up with something that would set the tone for the month, and I decided that if I was going to do that, I might as well do something completely different.

There’s a prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi – one of the most beloved prayers in Christianity. It has spoken to multitudes across generations as both a prayer and a simple, guiding set of principles of how we can transform the lives of others and the world for the better. Its other gift comes from how much its message has transcended religions and individual religious beliefs.

So it is obviously plenty good enough on its own without me mucking around with it, but I wanted to reframe it a bit to be more specifically about our daily lives whether we are parents of autistic persons or autistic ourselves. Even at the risk of profound arrogance in tinkering around with one of the great pieces of literature in human history, I did it anyway. You can decide whether it says something to you or if I should have just left well enough alone.

First, the original Prayer of St. Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy 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.
Amen.

I’m not sure how you follow that timeless classic, but here goes.

A Prayer of St. Francis for Autism
by Tim Tucker

Lord, let thy peace fill me up until I overflow;
that where people cannot speak, I may be their advocate;
that where anyone is rejected, I may extend my arms in welcome;
that where parents are heavy burdened, I may offer a word of comfort;
that where our children struggle, I may lift them up and cheer;
that where some see disability, I may reveal to them extraordinary gifts;
that where others judge, I may share with them my deep gladness;
and that where any are overlooked, I may help the lights of all to shine.

O Giver of These Gifts,
grant that I may not so much seek to be reassured as to reassure;
to be praised, as to praise;
to be accepted, as to accept;
for it is in all our uncertainty that we are inspired to hope;
it is in great challenges that we discover our greatest joys,
and it is in our community of wanderers that we find the way home.

Amen.

Just so I don’t look like I’m completely out on a limb doing this, an alternate version of the Prayer of St. Francis is found in Chapter 11 (p. 99) of the “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions” of Alcoholics Anonymous. It was in finding this that I got the inspiration to try a version for autism.

Lord, make me a channel of thy peace;
that where there is hatred, I may bring love;
that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness;
that where there is discord, I may bring harmony;
that where there is error, I may bring truth;
that where there is doubt, I may bring faith;
that where there is despair, I may bring hope;
that where there are shadows, I may bring light;
that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted;
to understand, than to be understood;
to love, than to be loved.
For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.
Amen.

Let’s call this a draft. I’d love your feedback, proofreading suggestions, or anything else you want to say in the comments. Thanks for reading!

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Niksmom April 1, 2010 at 7:42 am

Tim, I think this is beautiful just as it is. It brought tears to my eyes this morning.

Barbara April 1, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Amen!

madolu April 2, 2010 at 1:10 am

Love it Tim! Trust your writer’s voice. It’s true.

melanie rkein August 13, 2010 at 1:21 pm

Wonderful! I always loved St.Francis’ prayer!

Chrissa June 20, 2011 at 6:55 pm

This is wonderful!!! I was having a rough day with my little guy, and in desperation typed “autism prayer” into google – and it brought me to your blog. Exactly what I needed, and precisely the right moment.

Would it be alright for me to re-post your beautiful prayer? (giving you credit, of course) I know several families with kiddos with autism that would be blessed by your words.

Thank you so much for this post, I look forward to exploring the rest of your blog! :-)

melynda hill December 31, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Thank you for the prayer I have a 9 year old severlely autistic child I wil not give up.she bites and hits and my family is afraid of 2her but by the stripes of jesus she will be healed I need as much prayer as i can god bless you

Dr. Nancy Thompson February 23, 2012 at 2:46 pm

I am with the National Catholic Partnership on Disability and staff our national Autism Task Force. We are just getting ready to send out materials to dioceses across the U.S. for Autism Awareness in Parishes in April. I am writing because an ATF member lead us in prayer last August with your A Prayer of St. Francis for Autism and we really loved it. We would like your permission to use your prayer as one of the resources we recommend to parishes across the U.S. for April. I am going to try to find an email address or another way to contact you since we are planning to send this information out today or tomorrow. I will appreciate your response. Blessings for Lent. Nancy

Ann Marie Akash April 5, 2012 at 4:10 am

Hi. Thank you for this inspiration. I was thinking about the newest government study that found about one in 88 people born will have an autism diagnosis. I then remembered one of Jesus”s most famous prophesies: “the meek shall inherit the earth”. Think how the world will be if everyone was autistic, the prayers would be realized.

Andrew Raymond August 31, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Tim,

Have you taken a stab at adapting this to the traditional music for this prayer? I was greatly moved and healed by singing the traditional version at my father’s funeral yesterday, and I’d REALLY like to be able to sing your adapted version.

Andy

Lynette July 24, 2013 at 8:15 pm

This is the most encouraging prayer. It makes a connection through the pain. Thanks so much for sharing – it is so uplifting. Thanks for the AA version which adds another dimension.

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