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Theodore Parker: Prayers

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Creating and Protecting Power, our Father and our Mother, we lift up our psalm of thanksgiving to You. You hold the world in Your arms of love. It sings thanksgiving to You every morning, evening and noon. We praise You for Your blessings. We desire to be deeply conscious of Your presence, which fills all time, which occupies all space. We would know You as You are.

We thank You for the happiness that attends us in our daily life, for the joys of our daily work, for the success which You give to the labor of our hands. We thank You for the plain and common household joys of life, for the satisfactions of friendship, for the blessedness of love in all the dear relationships of life.

We thank You that amid hopes that so often deceive us, amid expec tations that fail and perish, we have still our faith in You. In our sorrow and sadness we look up to You, and when mortal friends fail us, and the urn that held our treasured joys is broken into fragments, and the wine of life is scattered at our feet, O God, we rejoice to know that You understand our lot. We thank You that You hold each one of us, yes, all Your children and the universe itself, as a mother folds her baby to her bosom.


Dear God, I will not ask for wealth or fame,

Though once they would have joyed my carnal sense;

I shudder not to bear a hated name,

Wanting all wealth, myself my sole defense,

But give me, God, eyes to behold the truth,

A seeing sense that knows the eternal right;

A heart with pity filled and gentlest ruth;

A robust faith that makes all darkness light;

Give me power to labor for humankind;

Make me the mouth of such as cannot speak;

Eyes let me be to the groping and the blind;

A conscience to the base; and to the weak,

Let me be hands and feet; and to the foolish, mind;

And lead still farther on such as Your kingdom seek.


Eternal One, I bathe my soul in Your infinity.

Transcendent God! Yet, ever immanent in all that is, I flee to You, and seek repose and soothing in my Mother’s breast. From all this dusty world, You will not lose a molecule of earth or spark of light. Father and Mother of all things that are, I flee to You, and in Your arms find rest; My God! I thank You for Your love.


Eternal One whose presence fills all space and occupies all time, who has a dwelling-place in every humble heart that trusts in You: we bless Your for Your loving-kindness, knowing that You love us better even than the mothers who have borne us. We thank You this day for the broad great world beneath our feet, for these wondrous heavens above our heads which mightily You sow with starry seeds; for the rivers as they roll and the ocean as it ebbs and floods. O God, they tell us of Yourpower; they talk of Your wisdom; they charm us with tidings of Your love.

A greater revelation is Your still small voice, which whispers in our soul that all this magnificence is but a drop of You, a little sparklet that has fallen from Your presence, O Central Fire and Radiant Light of all. The outward things are but a whisper of Your wisdom.

O God, open our inner eyes that we may see You as You are and serve You with our daily life. Arm us for the duty which You give us to do, every day’s work in its own day. May duty be supreme over desire and our daily life be beautiful, one continual sacrament to You.


Infinite Mother, the parent of our bodies and our souls: We know You always have us in Your care and that You cradle the world beneath Your eye; we would be conscious of Your presence with us.

Infinite Father, we thank You for this great human world added to this earth and air and sea. We thank You for the mighty capacities You have given us for thought and toil, for beauty and for duty. We thank You for this soul of ours whereby we know You, our Father and our Mother, and have serene delight in Your continual presence and Your love. We thank You that when we wander from Your ways, Your love forsakes usnot but reaches out to bring the wanderer back home wiser and better. We thank You that we may live noble lives, that we may become whole.


Infinite Presence who lives and move and has Your being in all that is above us and around us and underneath us: we remember that it is in You that we also live and move and have our being. Conscious of Your presence, we would look on our daily lives, that the murmur of our busi ness, the roar of the street and the jar of the noisy world, may mingle in the prayer of our aspiration and hymn of gratitude. May the meditations of our hearts draw us nearer to You, always above us and about us andwithin.

When we are weak and poor and foolish, may we remember the Source of all strength and all wisdom and all riches; and when we grow strong and rich, wise and good, may we never forget our duty to the poor, the weak, the foolish, but love others as we love ourselves.

We pray that in every emergency of our lives, we may be faithful to the duty which the day demands , doing what must be done, bearing what must be borne, and so growing greater from our toil and our suffer ings, till we transfigure ourselves into noble images of humanity.


Living God who fills the world and yet is not far from any one of us, we would join ourselves to You, and warm and freshen our spirit in the sunlight of Your coun tenance, and come away strengthened and made whole.

We thank Your for the little children, whose coming foretells that progress kingdom of righteousness which is ever at our doors, waiting to be revealed; giving joy to many a father’s and mother’s heart.

We thank You for the power of youth, for its green promise, its glad foretelling, and its abundant hope. We thank You for the strength of manhood and wom anhood, into whose hands You commit the family, the community, the nation and the world.

We bless You for the old age which crowns the head with silver honors, the fruit of long and experienced life, and enriches the ear with wisdom which babyhood knew not, which Youth could not comprehend, and only long-continued maturity could make perfect.

O God, we thank You that You bind together the ages of infancy and Youth, adulthood and old age by the sweet ties of family and social love.

Almighty Power, All-knowing Wisdom, we thank You for Yourself and for Your arms around this dusty world.


Perpetual Presence, always near to us, may the fire of our gratitude be kindled and our souls flame up towards You.

We thank You for the world of matter under our feet, over our head, and about us on every side.

We thank You for the bread we eat, for the garments we put on, for the houses which hold us, for the sleep which all night slides into our bones, bringing strength to the weary and health to the sick.

We thank You for the vast gifts which You have bestowed upon us, for these bodies so wonderfully made, for the ever-questioning mind which hungers for truth and beauty, for the vision of You held by Your children of every age and every land.

We thank You for great philosophers and prophets and poets who have gathered justice and taught love as well as for the billions of unre membered men and women who in their common callings were faithful to the light which shone upon them, and we rejoice in the heritage which their toil has won and bequeathed to us.

O God, our Father and our Mother, may we know You as You are, for Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever.


O God, may we join the human race in daring to live in the prophetic spirit: seeking inspiration like the seers and sages of this and other lands, judging the past as they, acting on the present like them, envisioning a new and nobler era of the spirit.

May our doctrines and forms fit the soul as the limbs fit the body: growing out of it, growing with it.

May we have communities for the whole person: truth for the mind, good works for the hands, love for the heart; and for the soul that aspiring after perfection, that unfaltering faith in life, which like lightning in the clouds, shines brightest when elsewhere it is most dark.

Theodore Parker (1818-1860) was a Unitarian preacher, lecturer, and public intellectual. Parker’s calls for political, social, and economic reform earned him fame and dislike during his life. He led Boston opposition to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.