With Father’s Day established on a Sunday, unless I am on vacation I have the distinct honor as a pastor of adding the appropriate prayer for the occasion to the Prayers of the Church. Unlike Mother’s Day or Veteran’s Day (I am not a mother or veteran), I have a special perspective of Father’s Day that gives me more freedom to pray specifically and deliberately for ways in which I believe all Christian fathers should act. That’s because I myself am a father. This was my twelfth celebration in that role (thirteenth inclusive of that first baby in-utero), and adding up the totals for each kid I have accrued thirty-four years of fatherhood in that time. Granted, with multiple children much of that experience quadruples all at once, but each child is still a unique individual with whom I have a unique relationship as a father. So I’m marking it on my resume. This means I have street cred, though by no means have I experienced all there is to experience as a father. (Also, I’m a Bible expert. Trust me; I have the paperwork to prove it.)
So even though the holiday has passed, I offer this formative prayer for Christian fathers:
Gracious heavenly Father, you have blessed certain men with the honor of being called Daddy. By your Spirit, enable all Christian fathers to follow your Word and faithfully bring up their children in the fear and trust of the Lord.
In this world, personal responsibility is emasculated, true masculinity is vilified, and men in this country are encouraged to be spineless weasels whose god is their belly. May this never be for the men of your church!
Grant that the Christian men whom you have made to be fathers of girls raise their daughters in tenderness and affection. Place in them a heartfelt awareness of their daughters’ adoring eyes scanning their actions for how men should treat women. Purify their minds and bodies, enflame a passion only for their wives, and let no lewd speech or wandering eye be seen as an acceptable example of manhood. By their example, may these girls grow up to be confident women who have no time for the boyishness and petty effeminacy that destroys lives and lays waste to civilized society. In the course of time, attract their daughters to strong Christian men who follow your Son, Jesus, with a passion unmatched by any personal wants.
Grant that the Christian men whom you have made to be fathers of boys raise their sons in strength and integrity. Place in them a keen power of self-confidence, that they may demonstrate to these impressionable boys what a real man is like: sacrificial, protective, not domineering, unquestionably monogamous, and confident without the need to prove his worth to anyone other than Christ. By your Spirit, encourage them to teach their sons what is right by example, especially in the spiritual training and discipline of weekly Divine Worship and daily prayers.
May all Christian fathers carry their crosses of suffering with such dignity that, as their children grow and the veil of mythologized paternal perfection is lifted, they may be confident that the privilege of a good Christian father is greater than any manmade institution.
Finally, may all these men treat their wives as Christ our Lord treats his bride: giving himself up for her that she might be safe, pure, loved, dignified, and cleansed in holiness. May he do this willingly and selflessly, and may his children see it plainly.
For the sake of the stability of society and the calling of all to faith, we ask this in the name of Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever.