A Prayer for Tenderness

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O Lord!  What You have created is a unity that seems to be both within Yourself and outside Yourself; and this may rightly be called the Church of All Creation, which in loving and glorifying You loves, nourishes and perfects itself.  At Your call we assemble regularly in our local meetings and churches, to put self and the world aside and, gathered back into this glorious unity, which in truth always abides in us, we are then joined together, fed together, and healed together.

Grant that when we rise from our worship and greet one another, we might feel the tenderness You allow us to feel as we welcome and nurse a newborn child, weep at the deathbed of a parent, or join hands and gazes with our life-partner at our moments of deepest intimacy; grant also that if we cannot feel such tenderness toward our fellow-worshippers, we don’t cease to yearn for it and pray for it – that happy tenderness by which we might enter the Kingdom of Heaven as little children, and in love serve one another, prefer one another, and be ready to lay down our lives one for another, as the Gospel encourages and empowers us to do.  Love may endure drought with the help of right resolve and habits of right speech and action, but tenderness is the rain love depends on for wellness and growth; and love for one another is our priceless school for learning the love of God, by which we may hope to attain that knowledge of God in which, according to Your promise, we are to enjoy eternal life.

If, Lord, You will kindle such loving tenderness in us toward those who share worship with us, and teach us to overcome all ill-will, wariness, unforgiveness and hardness of heart that may stand in the way of it, then surely You will also give our local meetings and churches that gospel order that lets trust and truth flourish, making them attractive and welcoming to all souls that seek such things.

If local meetings and churches may enjoy such love and such order, then, Lord, let them abound in love one toward another, with a love that binds them together more strongly than doctrinal and cultural differences, mutual unfamiliarity, or practical and geographic considerations can separate them.  I pray for this among the various divisions within the Religious Society of Friends, and also among the various divisions of the world household of faith, where some worship You in your Divine Personhood and some without reference to it, and some know themselves to be gathered in Christ Jesus to worship You and some do not, but all yearn for the Good, the True, and the Only Wise, through the Light that You have planted in every soul.

I look into the world and see evidence of much ignorance, cruelty and evil, Lord, as people set their hearts on things that cannot benefit them or save them from dreadful and mostly needless pain.  Let Your Light shine brightly into that darkness, and employ us as You know best, as individuals, as local gatherings, and as Your Church Universal, to serve as heralds, reflectors and refractors of Your Light, for the comfort of the suffering and the liberation of all Your beloved ones from bondage to the power of darkness.  I pray this in Your name, Lord, in trust that You will ever continue to work for us as You have promised, and as, in Your infinite love and wisdom, You deem best.  Amen.

This prayer was given to me this morning as I sat to participate in Friends United Meeting’s 2012 Chain of Prayer.

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3 Responses to “A Prayer for Tenderness”

  1. Lorraine Watson Says:

    My good friend, Jan Wood passed this on to me. It is profound! My favorite line is “tenderness is the rain love depends on for wellness and growth.” I’m going to let that one soak for awhile. It feels important.

  2. Thy Friend John Says:

    I’m so grateful you wrote, Lorraine, and that you found that thought important! When I was young, I had a mentor who tried to disabuse a group of us of the notion that love was a matter of one’s feelings by insisting that it was a matter of will, and a matter of how one acted. His steely wisdom has helped me through many a period of temptation, and I know from experience how one can go on loving with a dry or even a bitter heart. But how hard that can be without the nourishment of tenderness! As Jan can tell you, I’ve been blessed with a very tender wife, Elizabeth, who evokes more tenderness in me than I’d thought possible — not to mention my two loving children, and the tenderest of Saviors!

  3. Lorraine Watson Says:

    I am the pastor of North Seattle Friends Church and Jan’s pastor. This prayer has so strongly resonated with me that I sense a Leading to share it in worship today as the message. Should I continue to be Led in that way, I will read this prayer and invite us to wait in Listening silence for God to speak. Thank you, Friend.

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