Thou Soul of our souls: A prayer by Theodore Parker (1950)

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Our Father who art in heaven, thou Soul of our souls

A prayer delivered on Sunday, October 6, 1850, by Theodore Parker, American Transcendentalist and reforming minister of the Unitarian church

Our Father who art in heaven, thou Soul of our souls, and Safeguard of the world, we flee to thee to sing our morning psalm, to pray our morning prayer, bringing the offering of gratitude from our hearts, and asking of thee the gift of thy holy spirit. Thou sendest down thy sunlight on the world, thou rainest thy rain to still the dust and pacify the stones of the street crying for moisture from the skies, and we know that thou wilt feed our spirits with thine inspiration, ministering truth to the hungry mind, justice to the conscience that asketh right of thee, and will pour thy holy love on every earnest, seeking, asking soul.

We thank thee for thy broad providence which cares for the grass in the fields, and adorns every little flower that fringes the hedgerows of life, and carest also for the mighty orbs above our heads and the solid ground beneath our feet ; and thyself art not hard to find, nor far to seek, but art with every living soul of man.

Father, we thank thee for thy justice which presides over this world, and out of evil bringeth forth good continually, disappointing the wickedness of men, and doing all things for our good.

We thank thee for thine unbounded love which caused us to be, which made this fair world, which waiteth for us in our transgressions, and goes out to meet us, prodigals or penitent, a great way off, and blesses still thy wandering, even unrepentant child. We thank thee for thy voice in our hearts, for the inspiration which thou givest to the sons of men, to show us the way in which we should go, to rebuke us for every folly, to chastise us for every sin, but to encourage everything that is holy and noble and true in our hearts.

We thank thee for the noble examples of human excellence which thou raisest up from time to time, the landmarks of human life, and our guiding lights to lead us safely home to port and peace, to heaven here and heaven at last with thee.

We pray thee that we may be faithful and true to every gift which thou hast given us. In a time of darkness, when great men are a deceit and little men are a lie, may our heart never fail us, nor we hesitate nor despair for a moment of thy goodness and thy truth. Though hand join in hand, teach us that wickedness cannot prosper, nor iniquity endure. Fix our eyes on the true, the right, the holy, the beautiful, and the good, till we love them, and therein love thee with an affection that cannot be ashamed and will not be defeated. Teach us to be blameless in our daily life, to be heroic in our conduct, distinguishing between the doctrines of

men and thine everlasting commandments. Help us to love thee, the Creator, more than the creature before our eyes; to imitate thy justice, to share thy truth, and to spread abroad thy living love to all mankind. Are we weak, and we know we are, give us strength; sinners, and our heart cries out against us, chastise and rebuke us till we repent of our sin, and come back with humble hearts to worship thee in holiness, in nobleness, and in truth.

Give us the love of thyself which shall tread down every passion under its feet that wars against the soul, that shall make our daily lives beneficent, and so cast out every fear, the fear of man, and the fear, Lord, of thee. Help us to know thee in thine immensity, to feel thee and to love thee in thine infinite love, till every weight is cast off from us, and with thy sunshine on our wings we mount up as eagles and fly towards thee. We pray that we may be armed against temptation, and fortified only for every duty, prepared for every emergency, and ready to serve thee with our limbs and our lives.

We ask thy blessing on all sorts and conditions of men in the various departments of our mortal lives. May the young be trained up in innocence, and taught, not to fear men, but to love their brothers and to love thee. When sundered but joyful souls are by their affection wedded and made one, may a higher life spring up in their united hearts, and may they serve thee with blameless beauty and celestial piety set in a mortal life. In the various trials of our daily business teach us to be honest, and to love men, to respect the integrity of our own souls, and never waver, turned this side by the fear of men, and that side by the lust for their praise and their admiration.

We remember the poor and the needy in our prayer; yea, Lord, the poorest and the neediest of all, who own not by human laws their bodies, nor their limbs, nor lives, who flee from the iron house of bondage and ask shelter here with us. Yea, Lord, their prayer from our lips goes up before thee, asking the rights of man which thou didst give them at their birth, but the oppressor so fraudfully and forcibly rent away.

O Lord, we are all sinners before thee, but we remember those who with unashamed countenance tread down thy law, who even here seek for the life and freedom of men, and defile the fair heritage which our fathers asked of thee in their prayer and purchased with their sacred blood. Father, we pray thee that thou wilt pity those who have shown no pity, and wilt love tho>e who to their brothers show only hate, treading them with bloody hoofs into the ground, and who with the brow of brass affront thy thunders and blaspheme thy love.

Teach us, O Lord, our hardest task, to love also these. And our poor brothers, who with chained hands lift up an unchained soul to thee, who flee from city to city, while their persecutors desecrate thy name, who wander from one nation to another kingdom, seeking for the rights of man, we pray thee that thou wilt guide them in their flight by night, and still by day, and raise up defenders for them here and everywhere.

Stir up the souls of noble men that they bewray not him that wandereth, that they hide and shelter the outcast, and are a wall of fire about those who have taken their life in their hands and fled to us for succor, till a band of brothers fold their arms about the needy, and uplift those that are faint and ready to perish in their fall. Lord, thy charity never faileth. Touch the hearts of men with humanity, that they may learn justice and to love their brothers. Make us nobler, and braver, and holier. Teach us to love all men.

So let us be thy children, loving those that hate us, and praying for such as despitefully use us. So may thy kingdom come, and thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

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