This past Sunday (3 September) was observed in Australia as Fathers’ Day. Like Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day is not a joyful day for all. For many adult males, its observance can arouse difficult emotions and memories. I think, for instance, of those whose fathers have died, those who have difficult relationships with their fathers, those who are separated from their children, and those whose hopes of becoming a father have not been realized. While as a pastor and a father, I wish to see fathers affirmed and celebrated by Christians as good gifts of God, I also believe it is important to be sensitive and inclusive in our treatment of Fathers’ Day in our communities of faith.
In my own congregation, we have shifted our focus on Fathers’ Day from fathers to “fathering”. This is a good day to recognize and affirm the ways in which all adult males in our churches guide, nurture and shape the young among us. So yesterday, I asked all men present to come to the front of our worship gathering for a prayer and blessing. We thanked God for them and gave them the gift of a pen as a symbol of God’s Fatherly love for them, and our gratitude for them.
Below are the prayers and blessings we used – feel free to use and adapt as you wish.
General “Fathering Sunday” Prayer:
God our Father, on this Fathers’ Day, we pray for all fathers:
for new fathers, coming to terms with both the joys and demands of fatherhood;
for those who are uncertain or confused about their role as fathers;
for those whose work keeps them from spending time with their children;
for those who are afraid of the responsibilities of parenting;
for those who are unable to provide for their children through unemployment or sickness;
for those whose children have physical, mental or emotional disabilities;
for those who are violent or unloving towards their children;
for those whose own fathers abused them or failed to love them;
for those who are separated from their children by marriage breakdown, divorce or death;
for those who care for the children of others;
for those whose desire to be a father has not been fulfilled;
and for those whose children have rejected their love.
Bless all fathers, so that their love may be tender and strong, and that they may lead their children to know and do what is good, living not for themselves, but for God and for others.
Heavenly Father,thank you for the gift of these men into our lives and within our community of faith. Strengthen them as role models of faith, hope and love to our children and youth, and to other young ones in their lives. Fill with them with your love, grace and power, so that may reflect your Fatherly heart and Fatherly will, and know the peace of being your children. Amen.
Man of God,
May the love of your heavenly Father fill you and shape you.
May you be blessed in fathering others as your heavenly Father guides and nurtures you.
May you have peace in your heavenly Father’s presence, and joy in his service.