Essay / Education

A Prayer for the Class of 2007

This is a prayer for the 2007 graduates of the Torrey Honors Institute, spoken at the commencement ceremony on May 25, 2007.

Our Father in Heaven, we bring before you today these graduates of the Torrey Honors Institute. They have spent four years with us, talking and talking and talking. They have talked in seminar rooms and in hallways, in dorms and cafeterias, in apartments and cars and churches and even here in graduation auditoriums.

So much talking.

They have also listened and listened. They have listened to professors, to pastors, to parents, and peers. They have listened to so much talking. There has hardly been a quiet moment in all these years.

Almighty God, we have talked ourselves silly, and here I am still talking. But now I am talking to you, Lord of heaven and earth, and asking, pleading, begging on behalf of all the faculty, friends, and families of the Torrey Honors Institute, that you would speak to these graduates.

Because if your voice is not the voice we hear in, with, and under all other words, then our speaking and hearing have been in vain. If your voice is not the voice we hear,
then our arguments are nothing but strife;
our counsel is nothing but temptation;
our prayer requests are nothing but gossip;
our prayers nothing but worrying out loud with you in the back of our mind;
our worship is nothing but thinly-veiled self-congratulation;
our parenting nothing but one long interpersonal battle with a dubious outcome;
our lectures are prattling, nattering, rambling on, throwing words out into the void;
our class discussions have just been jockeying for positions, posturing, and scoring points against friends as if they are enemies.

Lord God, if your voice is not the voice we are learning to listen for, then our talking and listening are just wind, noise, bad breath, and Babel. If your voice is not the voice these students have listened to during these years, then our teaching has been nothing but a hardening of their hearts, a confusing of their minds, an underlining of their bigotries and an undermining of their proper confidence.

Unless you speak we are lost. Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Word of life, living Word, although this is the day when we celebrate a great accomplishment, this is the hour of our greatest need.

Save us from our own words. Save us or we are lost in endless play of the dialectic, where every word is buried by the next word, every argument is contradicted by the next argument, and every certainty is thrown back into suspension by the next turn of the conversation.

Save us from our own words. We have said some profoundly stupid things. Send to us a blessed forgetfulness so that we may nevermore remember the misleading words we have spoken, heard, and entertained in our hearts. Take those words out of the storehouse of our recollection. We are done with them, they are in your power. Whenever any of us have spoken your truth to each other, do not let us forget those words. Cause us to cherish those true words with gratefulness and attentiveness. You who are full of truth and grace, take those very words now and drive them deeper into the soil of our hearts where they can take root and grow tenfold, a hundredfold, springing up to life everlasting. Shake away from us all words that are not yours.

God the Word, visit us on this graduation day with a blessed forgetting, and more blessed remembering.

Almighty God, we commit these graduates to you so that the word of Christ may dwell richly in them. We beg this of you in the name of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word, your Word, who lives in perfect love with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever, amen.

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