Francis of Assisi pioneered a Christian life of action and contemplation, notes Episcopalian author Jon Sweeney (Praying with Our Hands: 21 Practices of Embodied Prayer from the World's Spiritual Traditions). This Catholic saint was committed to a daily practice of prayer or fixed-hour prayer, as it is called in liturgical churches today. He communed with God in the presence of others and also spent time in contemplative solitude in woods, caves, and abandoned churches. St. Francis loved to pray in the middle of the night when others were asleep. Sweeney concludes: "Prayer was to Francis as play is to a child — natural. easy, creative, and joyful."

To help us tap into this spirit of Francis's devotional life, the author has put together a weekly liturgy derived from various sources that reflects the saint's deepest concerns. There is a theme for each of the seven days: following Christ, disregard for possessions, peace and care in human relationships, love for all creatures, preaching the good news, passion more important than learning, and joyful simplicity. Also included in this handy paperback are occasional prayers of Francis — prayer to the Virgin Mary, prayer for exuberant faith, a benediction, a prayer for a rich spiritual life, and more. This Catholic saint memorized other prayers and used them regularly; so there are some basic prayers Sweeney has gathered from the early centuries of the Christian church, along with an essay on memorization and prayer in the Middle Ages.