A Prayer for Spiritual Exiles


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“All atheism is theism, and all theism is atheism”

–Peter Rollins

As I’ve been progressing through what I’m calling my third wave of spiritual deconstruction, one of the things I’ve been finding is that the language we use in our spiritual lexicon too often limits as it attempts to define who and what “God” is.

For the past several weeks, I’ve been reading the morning office from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals as part of my spiritual practice.

Each day’s reading includes the recitation of the Our Father, or what we Protestants refer to as the Lord’s Prayer.

But as I come to that familiar refrain, I have found that the language in that prayer now rings hollow for me.

For one thing, I have long since abandoned the notion of gender as it relates to the divine. So to start a prayer with “Our father…” seems both confining and disingenuous.

I have also come through my contemplative practices not to view “heaven” as someplace other, but as a state of being…an existential experience of God’s presence through the act of unconditional love.

So right off the bat, I can’t even get past the opening line, “Our father, who art in heaven” (never mind that I also dislike the antiquated “thou art” language we’ve inherited by the massively flawed King James Version of the Bible) without a visceral reaction.

Still, the Lord’s Prayer is a deeply meaningful piece of liturgy (from the Greek leitourgia, meaning “the work of the people”). It’s been part of the life of the people of The Way from the very beginning of the Jesus movement.

And so as I’ve sought to engage authentically with that ancient prayer while still living into my linguistic deconstruction, I’ve come up with a new way to think of the essence of the prayer that I find honors its intent as well as the ways I currently perceive the act of prayer itself.

I share it here in hope that it enlarges and expands your own experience of interaction with the Divine.

The Lord’s Prayer (Deconstruction Version)

O Loving Creator of All Things,
Our Mother/Father,
One and Many,
Great Love of Great Love,
You who cannot be named,
who exists beyond the confines of time and space
yet manifests in all Things you have made:

Arouse in us your divine Self
which dwells in our deepest essence.

Bring about your blessed community
among us, your image-bearers,
as it exists within
your eternal being.

Make us aware that you alone provide
all that nurtures and sustains us.

Forgive us the ways we dishonor your creation,
the ways we diminish and dehumanize,
the ways we extort,
the ways we appropriate,
the ways we dishonor the fullness of others;
and teach us to forgive those
who dishonor and diminish us
for they too, like us, carry your spark.

Lead us away from the easy path of self-importance,
from the wide road of self-indulgence,
and deliver us from all that is evil,
both from within and without.

And awaken us to your way
of love, humility, compassion, mercy, and justice;
the way, the truth, and the life.

Amen.

2 thoughts on “A Prayer for Spiritual Exiles

  1. That rings with the realness of words that have been deeply spiritually processed and now feed the soul as meat feeds the body… I know no other way to describe this..but it makes me hungry for deeper relationships with the Word…

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