Like many other Christians whose tweets and facebook updates we have read, we are struggling to find words to frame our response to the news of Osama bin Laden’s death on Sunday – and to the rhetoric of political leaders in the UK and US. Perhaps the only thing we know to pray for right now is peace. Please join us.
Given our recent thinking and blogging on praying for oppressors, we are challenged again to look at our hearts, as well as our churches, politicians, and nations… is Christ’s teaching on peace; grace; blessing our persecutors; and loving our enemies evident in our attitudes and actions? There is a time for judgement – but mercy should always triumph.
As we struggle for new words of how to pray in wars and rumours of war, older liturgies come to mind. Among them, the famous prayer attributed to St Francis of Assisi:
- Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
- Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
- Where there is injury, pardon.
- Where there is doubt, faith.
- Where there is despair, hope.
- Where there is darkness, light.
- Where there is sadness, joy.
- O Divine Master,
- grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
- to be understood, as to understand;
- to be loved, as to love.
- For it is in giving that we receive.
- It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
- and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen.
As we have been praying for world peace in this new context brought by Sunday’s headlines, we have found a number of things have helped us lift to God the pain, and confusion in our hearts right now. We do not have articulate words, but we hope these raw heart-cries might help you in your prayers to.
We have created and been using a map of peace (which we have made available as both a print-out to help individuals and a PowerPoint slide which can be projected during corporate prayer). It focuses on bringing together nations and regions that feel particularly significant and vulnerable at the moment. Use it, and the scriptures it references to pray for:
- peace and protection
- mercy to triumph over judgement
- repentance and reconcilliation
- an end to hatred, fighting, and vengeance
- the raising up of leaders (political and spiritual) who champion love, peace and grace.
You may also find this spontaneous prayer song, ‘Come Prince of Peace’ – written during worship today – helpful in your prayers. (We’ve also produced a liturgical version of it.) You’ll find the written prayer, mp3, chord sheet and more about the song’s focus at www.thesanctuarycentre.org/whereworldandworshipmeet-topical
We’re also coming back to the song ‘I dare to pray’, which you can find here. As it says, we do dare to pray, because ‘there are no hearts too hardened that You cannot turn them.’
If ever there was a time for big prayers, this is it – please join us in standing for peace on our knees.