Papa Prayer (a poem)

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : July 16, 2008

Subvert this society of spiritual insincerity! These pseudo-saints
wear masks of metaphysical maturity
veiling their vulgar visage and voluminous villainy
Prattling proudly, they publicly proclaim their piety. It’s pathetic!

Don’t buy it, brother.
Don’t get snared, sister.
They’ll get their due.
But as for you,
Do the prayers you do…
In the quiet place.
With simple words.
And an open heart.

Like little kids call for papa
Call out to your Heaven-Father.
Yes, he is Huge and Holy,
But still closer to you
than you are to yourself.

Reach up to him and say:

“We need a regime change,
From Bush or Obama or McCain
To a divine administration.

We don’t need laptops and lattes,
Macbooks or machiattos
We don’t need Red Robbin
Or Little Debbie
Or Colonel Sanders
Or Ronald McDonald
Or Famous Dave.

All we need is
what we need
right now.
And that’s you.

We’re beggin’ you, papa
For debt forgiveness.
Our bedrooms are wallpapered with past due notices
Our cars run off violent oil
Our homes built upon a mountain of bones.
So we declare bankruptcy!

But we can’t point a finger of judgment at others.
We pass along the debt relief that you’ve given to us
And forgive everyone for what they owe us…

…at least in theory, papa.

‘Cuz we are cracked people.
Greedy, lusty, and grumpy by nature.
Always willing to secure ourselves
At the expense of the other
Even if it makes you look bad, papa.

So help us not to be tempted
To secure ourselves with dark dealings…

Deliver from this damned depraved design
of the despicable deceiver who devours divinity!

Mark Van Steenwyk is the editor of He is a Mennonite pastor (Missio Dei in Minneapolis), writer, speaker, and grassroots educator. He lives in South Minneapolis with his wife (Amy), son (Jonas) and some of their friends.

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