A Prayer for Father’s Day, 2010

In my weekend reading, I was struck by this powerful paragraph written by Ann and Barry Ulanov, in their book, “Primary Speech: a Psychology of Prayer.” Please listen carefully as it is a dense bit of writing, but oh! – it offers us such a rich understanding of what prayer is truly all about:
“Prayer articulates our longing for a fullness of being, our reaching out of the mind for what is beyond it, and [prayer] helps us find and love God and grow with our love. It is like the sun warming a seed into life, like the work of clearing away weeds and bringing water to the interior garden of St. Teresa’s inspired imagery. Prayer enlarges our desire until it receives God’s desire for us. In prayer we grow big enough to house God’s desire for us, which is the Holy Spirit.”

Let us pray together, articulating our longing as we do:
Great God,
Creator of the universe,
Redeemer of our souls,
you are indeed beyond, far beyond what our minds can grasp.
And we do long for you –
as a lost child longs for a parent,
as a lost sailor longs for land and home,
as those who grieve long for those they have lost.
Help us to grasp that all our longings
are really longings for the same thing –
we long for you, O God.
We long to be known,
to be heard,
to be understood,
to be loved.
And something within us knows that what we long for
cannot truly be found anywhere else but with You.
Sift through the weeds of our lives,
the distractions,
the divided loyalties,
the difficult memories,
the demands we place on ourselves that are
unhealthy and unholy and unnecessary.
Water us generously with grace and forgiveness,
refine and expand our desire for you!
Strengthen our resolve,
empower our wills,
transform our minds,
warm us into life,
as the sun warms the seed – warm us into real, true life.
And help us never to settle for anything less than that,
never to give our ultimate allegiance to anything other than that,
never to shirk from offering that kind of life
to those you put in our way.
Many of us today are celebrating – celebrating the wonderful truth
that we have or had fathers
who helped us to see and value real, true life,
whose desire for you was refined and defined and clarified
over a lifetime of devotion,
and who taught us to pay attention to our heart’s desire.
Thank you for loving, believing dads.
Some of us today are missing those dads, those Good Dads,
because they’re no longer here with us.
Help us to celebrate anyhow,
‘to remember them with joy and with gratitude.
Some of us never really experienced that kind of father
in our lives at all,
and we’re still trying to learn how to fill in the blanks
left over from difficult parenting.
Help us to celebrate progress made,
and to recognize the depth of our desire
for you to be our Good Father.
We ask you blessing this day
on all those in our community
who are now dads themselves –
may they feel blessed and valued and affirmed.
May they – and we – seek to
enlarge our desire for you
until we are able to receive” –
miracle of miracles! –
“your own deep desire for us.”

For that is the amazing truth
that is at the heart of our story
as followers of Jesus,
as believers in the God of Israel,
as people of the Book.
For that Book, the Word written,
and your Son Jesus, the Word living,
tell us again and again
that it is your longing for us
that set creation in motion.
It is your magnificent,
mystifying,
life-giving love for us,
your desire for us –
that holds this universe together,
that holds the church together,
that holds our hearts together,
that holds us.
So, Lord God, help us to be people of prayer,
for it is in that heart-to-heart communication,
that sharing of our dreams and desires,
our wishes and wonderings,
that we can,
“grow big enough to house your desire for us,”
to fully embrace and welcome the Holy Spirit,
whose presence in us is life eternal.
In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

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