The Collected Works of Theodore Parker/Volume 02/Theodore Parker's Prayers/Prayer 01

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MARCH 17, 1850.

O thou Infinite Spirit, who needest no words for man to hold his converse with thee, we would enter into thy presence, we would reverence thy power, we would worship thy wisdom, we would adore thy justice, we would be gladdened by thy love, and blessed by our communion with thee. We know that thou needest no sacrifice at our hands, nor any offering at our lips; yet we live in thy world, we taste thy bounty, we breathe thine air, and thy power sustains us, thy justice guides, thy goodness preserves, and thy love blesses us for ever and ever. Lord, we cannot fail to praise thee, though we cannot praise thee as we would. We bow our faces down before thee with humble hearts, and in thy presence would warm our spirits for a while, that the better we may be prepared for the duties of life, to endure its trials, to bear its crosses, and to triumph in its lasting joys.

We thank thee for the world that is about us, now serene, enlightened by the radiance of day, now covered over with clouds and visited by storms, and in serenity and in storm still guarded and watched and blessed by thee. We adore thee who givest us all these things that we are, and promisest the glories that we are to become. For our daily life we thank thee, for its duties to exercise our hands, for its trials and temptations to make strong our hearts, for the friends that are dear to us,—a joy to us in our waking hours, and in the visions of the night still present, and a blessing still.

We thank thee, O Lord, for thy tender providence which is over us all, for thy loving-kindness which blesses the child and the old man, which regards the sinner with affection, and lovest still thine holy child. Father, we know that we are wanderers from thy way, that we forget thy laws, that oft-times the world has dominion over us, that we are slaves to passion and to every sense. And yet we rejoice to remember that thy kindness is not as our kindness, and thy love is infinite, that thou tenderly carest for thy children, that thou art the Shepherd of the sheep, and in thy bosom bearest the feeble lambs, and gently leadest at last each wanderer back to its home.

We pray thee that we may forgive ourselves for every sin we commit, that with penitence we may wash out the remembrance of wrong, and with wings of new resolution fly out of darkness in the midst of transgression, into the higher, brighter heaven of human duty, of human joy, and of the Christian's peace.

Teach us, Lord, to use this world wisely and faithfully and well. In its daily duties and trials may we find the school for wisdom, for goodness, and for piety. May we learn by every trial that thou sendest, be strengthened by every cross, and when we stoop in sadness to drink bitter waters, may we rise refreshed and invigorated. Help us to live at peace with our souls, disturbing no string on this harp of a thousand chords, but attuning all to harmony, and in our life living one great triumphant hymn to thee. Withhold from us what is evil, though we beg mightily for it, and with tears and prayers. Help us to live in unity with our brother men, reconciling our interest to their interests, by faithfully discharging every duty, by patiently bearing with the weakness or the strength of our brothers, and loving them as we love ourselves. Teach us, Father, to love the unlovely, to love those who evil entreat us, to toil for those who are burdens in the world, and to seek to save them from ignorance, to reform them of their wickedness, and to hasten that time when all men shall recognize that thou art their Father, and their brothers are indeed their brothers, and that all owe fidelity to thee and loving-kindness to their fellowmen. Help us to live in unity with thee, no sloth hiding us from thy presence, no passion turning us aside from thy counsel, but, with mind and conscience, with heart and soul, assimilating ourselves to thee, till thy truth dwells in our understanding, and thy justice enlightens our conscience, and thy love shines a beatitude and a blessed light in our heart and soul for ever and ever.

In times of darkness, when men fail before thee, in days when men of high degree are a lie, and those of low degree are a vanity, teach us, Lord, to be true before thee, not a vanity, but soberness and manliness; and may we keep still our faith shining in the midst of darkness, the beacon-light to guide us over stormy seas to a home and haven at last. Father, give us strength for our daily duty, patience for our constant or unaccustomed cross, and in every time of trial give us the hope that sustains, the faith that wins the victory and obtains satisfaction and fulness of joy.

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. May thy kingdom come, and thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from its evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever. Amen.