Topic outline

  • St Francis of Assisi: Intimacy through Prayer

    To Francis, being with Christ was a love affair. When referring to his relationship with God, he called himself "a spouse of the Holy Spirit." To cultivate his intimacy with the Divine, he often retreated to remote places to pray and contemplate alone with God. He loved being alone with His Father so much that, at times, he was torn between devoting himself completely to the contemplative instead of the active life.

    Prayer was his chief comfort. It was Francis' starting place, his source of strength in faith. God was his refuge on whom he could cast all of his cares and burdens. He was completely dependent on the Lord, and he understood that progress in God's service was futile without prayer. In fact, he placed prayer at the highest pinnacle of all of the spiritual exercises and used every means to have his friars concentrate on it. He eagerly sought to pray to God without ceasing, to keep his soul always in the presence of God. Bonaventure witnesses:

    “Prayer was his sure refuge in everything he did; he never relied on his own efforts, but put his trust in God's loving providence and cast the burden of his cares on him in insistent prayer. He was convinced that the grace of prayer was something a religious should long for above all else. No one, he declared, could make progress in God's service without it.”

    And, Francis' prayers were not detached or antiseptic requests, but instead his prayers were often passionate and cries from the soul. Bonaventure writes:

    “Francis would make the groves re-echo with his sighs and bedew the ground with his tears, as he beat his breast and conversed intimately with his Lord in hidden secrecy. Here he defended himself before his Judge; here he spoke with his Lover.”

    Intimacy with God was the foremost priority for Francis, being in love with the One who loved him first.

    The busy ministers of the modern age could learn much through Francis' example. His priorities were in line with the will of God. He placed his relationship with the Savior as his foremost concern, above ministry strategies and scholastic exercises. As a man whom God used to bring widespread renewal to the Christian faith, he desired most of all to be at the feet of his Father, seeking intimacy, guidance and nourishment through solitary prayer.

    Excerpt from James Choung’s article (warning: do not press "Get PDF" button and log in as it is trying to access your email contacts) "Spiritual Practices of St. Francis of Assisi"
  • Liturgy of the Hours

    According to the Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order, Article 8, Secular Franciscans are to "join in liturgical prayer in one of the forms proposed by the Church, reliving the mysteries of the life of Christ."

    The Ritual of the Secular Franciscan Order book gives several suggestions for fulfilling this responsibility, one of them being Morning and Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours, also called Breviary, Christian Prayer, Divine Office. It is available in print and online

    History and how to pray the Liturgy of the Hours

    • Remembering Our Dearly Departed

      • Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order

        CHAPTER 1

        Article 5. As Jesus was the true worshipper of the Father, so let prayer and contemplation be the soul of all they are and do. Let them participate in the sacramental life of the Church, above all the Eucharist. Let them join in liturgical prayer in one of the forms proposed by the Church, reliving the mysteries of the life of Christ.

        CHAPTER 2

        Article 5. To foster communion among members, the council should organize regular and frequent meetings of the community as well as meeting with other Franciscan groups, especially with youth groups. It should adopt appropriate means for growth in Franciscan and ecclesial life and encourage everyone to a life of fraternity. The communion continues with deceased brothers and sisters through prayer for them.

        Article 6. The Virgin Mary, humble servant of the Lord, was open to His every word and call. She was embraced by Francis with indescribable love and declared the protectress and advocate of his family. The Secular Franciscans should express their ardent love for her by imitating her complete self-giving and by praying earnestly and confidently.

        The prayer life of members of the Secular Franciscan Order may include, but is not limited to:

        • The Rosary
        • The Liturgy of the Hours: Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, Vespers
        • The Office of the Dead
        • A Franciscan Wake Service
        • The Transitus of St. Francis
        • A Novena Mass for St. Francis & St. Anthony
        • The Franciscan Way of the Cross (Stations of the Cross)
        • Intercessory Prayer facilitated by a Prayer Tree
        • The Transitus of St. Francis

        The Ritual of the Secular Franciscan Order book includes prayers for the following liturgical services and events:
        • Rite of Admission
        • Rite of Profession or Permanent Commitment to the Gospel Life Within the Mass
        • Opening and Closing Prayers for Fraternity Meetings
        • Prayers for the Regular Meeting of Council
        • Celebration of the Fraternity’s Chapter of Elections
        • The Establishment of a New Fraternity
        • Prayer for a Pastoral or Fraternal Visit

        • Intercessory Prayer

          Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest.  James 5: 13 - 18

          The Power of Intercessory Prayer

          There are many ways to love one’s neighbour, but intercessory prayer—praying on behalf of other people—has got to be one of the most powerful.

          Prayer is the most potent force known to humanity. Because we have been made partakers in Jesus’ victory over sin and death (1 John 4:4), we have the authority as sons and daughters of God to pray for others, pushing back the darkness of sin and oppression. In prayer, we have a weapon that has “divine power to destroy strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4.

          That kind of weaponry—the power of prayer— is something God invites us to use as we seek not only personal transformation but the transformation of the world as well. An intercessor is one who takes up a “burden” that goes far beyond his or her own needs and intentions.

          And those who take up the call to intercession come to learn in a deeper way that the sufferings of the present time cannot compare to the joy that will come as God’s purposes unfold. They learn to trust in the Lord, because they have experienced in prayer how infinitely compassionate God is. Intercessors participate in God’s magnificent plan to raise humanity to share in divine life.

          So ask the Holy Spirit to teach you how to pray in union with the mind of God. Take to heart St. Paul’s words, “The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes . . . for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27). And above all, ask God to give you confidence that he hears your prayers and longs to answer the deep needs of those around you.

          Intercessory Prayer Ministry within the Context of an OFS Fraternity

          An Intercessory Prayer Ministry (IPM) is a ministry within the fraternity whose major role is to make prayer intercession for the varied needs of fraternity members. It is the ministry to pave the way through prayer for the fraternity in its vocation, growth and mission.

          Members of the fraternity are enlisted to the Intercessory Prayer Ministry based on their interest and commitment to pray for the needs entrusted to them. Personal petitions submitted to the Intercessory Prayer Team honour confidentiality of the person/s making the request, and in sharing only the required information necessary for the direction of the prayer request.

          It is recommended that the Intercessory Prayer Ministry Team be managed by two coordinators who are responsible for orientation of new members to the IPM team, coordinating intake of prayer requests, and communicating incoming requests and updates to the rest of the prayer team. Communication will be through e-mail and telephone calls.

          It is also recommended that members of the Intercessory Prayer Ministry be provided with an Intercessors' Manual for guidance and be given subsequent updates. When a member of the IPM team is no longer able to serve in this ministry, they should notify one of the coordinators, who will remove their name from the service ministry and make arrangements for the IPM manual to be returned to the coordinators.

          Intercessory Prayer Ministry coordinators will normally serve three year terms and may renew for one more 3 year term that is in alignment with the OFS fraternity’s term of elections. They will be responsible for updating the IPM members contact information as changes occur, and for apprising the Council of their work on an annual basis, and/or apprise Council if there are any issues arising that may warrant the Council to guide them.