Prayer of a Fatherless Father

Do you relate to this powerful prose? I watch in tears. These wounds have hitch-hiked across my lifespan, like unwanted passengers, seemingly since the beginning. They are often overlooked. I prefer performing as though they don’t exist.

Yet the term “father”, though I’ve despised it, demands attention when I become the overseer of my own little ones. Like me, their future faith is molded by their image of fatherhood.

As parents, the startling reality is that how we love our children prepares their hearts to trust others and to ultimately trust God. As time ticks, love lingers and connection continues. Conversely, many of us know firsthand that pain is passed, shame is shared, and disconnection is dealt downward from generation to generation. Our wounds and scars attest to this.

Aware of past personal lessons of loss, we feel lost in loving well. How can we pass a torch that was dropped decades ago? How can healing begin here?

I wonder, is our Abba the answer? His Word says that we “have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry ‘Abba’, it is that spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (see Romans 8:14-16). When we are invited into our divine Daddy’s family, does that not change us? When God’s fathering eclipses experiences with our faulty fathers, does it comfort us to the core?

Maybe many followers have failed to have this experience, acting as if their earthly father’s face is painted upon God’s. But our projections do not parallel reality. Our heavenly Father is drastically different.

Brennan Manning explains how “scripture suggests that the essence of the divine nature is compassion and that the heart of God is defined by tenderness”. He shares that “the experience of a warm, caring, affective presence banishes our fears. The defense mechanisms of the imposter – sarcasm, name-dropping, self-righteousness, the need to impress others – fall away. We become more open, real, vulnerable, and affectionate. We grow tender” (p 64-65).

Abba’s love does not erase our wounds. Instead, like a healing balm, it soothes them. He meets us in our wounds, comforting us, that we may comfort others in the same way (2 Cor 1:4). This new father experience is necessary. It frees us to love and lead our children from tender, healed hearts.

As we experience God’s affection and tenderness, our children will experience this in us as well, planting seeds of faith that will someday blossom. Our children will learn to trust that the true heart of a Daddy is attentive, caring, and responsive. They will grow up freed from the burden of mistrust and suspicion toward a God that seems all too absent. As we enjoy the authentic fatherhood of our adoptive Abba, may we pass that torch forward through time, that our children would bless, not curse, the name “Father”.

Prayer of a Fatherless Father

Father, love me. That I would sense how a father loves his child and love my children tenderly.

Father, teach me. That I would learn how a father teaches his child and teach my children patiently.

Father, guide me. That I would know how a father guides his child and guide my children faithfully.

Father, comfort me. That I would comprehend how a father comforts his child and comfort my children compassionately.

Father, delight in me. That I would experience how a father delights in his child and delight in my children joyfully.

Father, hold me. That I would feel how a father holds his child and hold my children securely.

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-By Forest Benedict

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10 thoughts on “Prayer of a Fatherless Father

  1. “These wounds have hitch-hiked across my lifespan, like unwanted passengers, seemingly since the beginning.” I am reminded of an interview with Joe Frazier, 25 years after the famous “Thrilla in Manila” where the journalist writes, “Ali is alive and well, and living rent free in the mind of Joe Frazier.” It spoke to resentments, regrets, and certain unhealed wounds. Your picture of wounds hitch-hiking across the life span is one I can relate to. I would like to use your turn of phrase some time. I am attaching a link to something I was processing re: forgiveness in a way that contrasts the notion of “time heals all wounds”. https://moreenigma.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/getting-historical/
    Shalom, rusty

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  6. Delores Friesen

    Forest, Your own healing and sense of the loss of your own earthly father experience come together in a beautiful way here. I have also seen you be a daddy to your son from Ethiopia and that tenderness and joy has spilled over into my life when I have observed the communication and connection between the two of you. Your prayer is one that I will use in my own time of meditation, as well as with others who need this kind of healing prayer. Your detail in the blog reminded me of a deeply profound teaching experience I had once down in LA at the city morgue where unclaimed bodies of persons who died in the hospital were given their final resting place. A student who never knew what happened to his father, other than that he had been living on the streets and was usually under the influence of alcohol, found that It gave him a certain kind of closure to know that these bodies were treated with dignity and respect and that even though they were buried in a common grave, there had been a ritual of goodbye led by the Hospital Chaplain. He wrote a most profound poem about it and shared it with his classmates on our final day of class. I wish I had a copy of it now to share with you. The emptiness and loss we feel sometimes gentles our spirit and allows us to give and receive love; at other times it remains a terrible ache and sorrow. May you continue to heal and grow as you nurture and empower your children and others. Thank you for sharing yourself with me and so many others. Delores Friesen

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