Tuesday, October 11, 2016

For All Sorts and Conditions

I have recently found renewed solace and challenge in prayer. 

Some situations are harder to pray about than others, and for those situations, it can help me to turn to pre-written prayers.  I went looking in the Episcopalian Book of Common Prayer.

Here are some snippets of prayer I found which seem pertinent today, despite the archaic language.

2. For All Sorts and Conditions of Men

O God, the creator and preserver of all mankind, we humbly
beseech thee for all sorts and conditions of men; that thou
wouldest be pleased to make thy ways known unto them, thy
saving health unto all nations. …We commend to thy fatherly goodness all those who are in any ways afflicted or distressed,
in mind, body, or estate; [especially those for whom our prayers
are desired]; that it may please thee to comfort and relieve
them according to their several necessities, giving them patience
under their sufferings, and a happy issue out of all their
afflictions. And this we beg for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.

I could only laugh when I read the title of this prayer: For All Sorts and Conditions of Men.  Right now it’s rather hard to pray for all sorts and conditions of men, given the ugly, despicable, and felonious behaviors described this week, behaviors carried out, excused, and/or condoned by self-entitled men against many women everywhere and through all time.  

I find it particularly difficult to pray for the third-grade bully who is running for President of the United Bleeping States of America.  I have found that man’s actions and speech to be offensive long before now.  It only shows how low our human condition is that only now, when he has mocked and degraded fully half of the electorate, are some people able to say they will no longer support him.

No doubt the original writers of this prayer wished to include all humankind, both men and women, in their terminology “all sorts and conditions of men” and “mankind.”  And if pressed, those writers might also acknowledge that God’s goodness is not just described by a masculine adjective such as “fatherly.”

Where I am not able to forgive, God is.  This is grace.  So I am moved to at least forgive the male-centered language and pray this prayer for all sorts and conditions of us, humans, including myself and my own grievous faults.   May there be a happy issue out of our national and personal afflictions.

However, I believe it is right to call out those who claim to be Christians and also condone words and actions of assault against women.  See Rachel Held Evans' facebook page (Oct 9, 2016 post), and this article by Carol Howard Merritt at The Christian Century.

No, women should not be “revered” (as the Speaker of the House said) but rather respected as equal human beings.  Those Christian leaders who have excused words of assault against women as “boys will be boys” are also likely to be people who see no value in gender-neutral language about God.  Words matter, folks.  Must we always use the pronouns “He” and “His” to refer to God?  Try substituting “God” and “God’s” or “She” and “Hers” sometimes.

Here is another snippet from the Book of Common Prayer.

3. For the Human Family

O God, … Look with compassion on the whole
human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which
infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us;
unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and
confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth… through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen.

I do pray that God will take away the hatred which currently infects my heart.  Because it’s likely to eat me alive.

These and many other worthy, if archaically phrased, prayers can be found at

in the “Prayers and Thanksgivings” section. I like that those title words are plural.  One of my thanksgivings is that most men in my life have been upright, humble, kind, honorable, and courteous men. 

Anniversary roses from an honorable man

2 comments:

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I've been praying for a lot of grace, too. It's hard to love on people acting so hateful. And your point about women being treated as equal brought to mind that lovely scene in the movie Little Women, where Jo March is schooling the gentlemen about why women should vote--not because they are morally superior, but because they deserve to be treated with the same respect by men and have a say in the laws which govern them. Don't "revere" me, just give me equality!

The Crislers said...

"Where I am not able to forgive, God is. This is grace. So I am moved to at least forgive the male-centered language and pray this prayer for all sorts and conditions of us, humans, including myself and my own grievous faults." I said a big ol' "AMEN" to that, and to "I do pray that God will take away the hatred which currently infects my heart. Because it’s likely to eat me alive." Ditto. Oh my, oh my, oh ditto.