softening our hearts for peace together

Today is Rememberance Day, and in the couple of weeks leading up to it we have been focusing more centrally than ever on praying for peace to come to nations in conflict. As a result, we’ve been inspired and challenged by what God has newly laid on our hearts and by the different perspectives and creativity members of the community of regular pray-ers at our centre have shared.

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On Friday, we used our new peace prayer stations together in morning worship.

We began by doing station one corporately together… as instructed, we all shaped soft hearts from playdough as we prepared our hearts – which can also be hardened to God and others – to pray for those living in conflict zones.

Most of us sculpted heart shaped, but one pray-er – who happens to have a medical background – sculpted an anatmoically shaped heart. She shared with us how it was a picture to her of how we could become softer – that the heart is a pump and it needs to draw in God’s love and then pump it out.

As we carried our soft, symbolic hearts round to the different stations, she began to create symbolic arteries too, praying for God’s love to spread out to the different nations in conflict.

We loved this new take on the initial idea for two reasons. The first was that it gave us all a new depth of perspective from which to pray.

The second was that it was another example of the incredible creativity and mutual discipleship that comes when we come together to listen to God, pray in response, and share with each other.

There was a similar experience again and again as people shared their thoughts at the end of the session. We admitted our struggles, shared our questions and pain and rejoiced over the fact that we are all on a journey towards receiving softer and softer hearts – and the added joy we feel about being on that together.

Just as there had been the day before, when another regular pray-er and contributor, Ailsa Cummins, emailed us this all-age prayer she had written during a prayer time for Syria several days before.

Please pray it with us today as we continue to lift Syria and other nations in conflict to God:

All-age prayer in response to war, inspired by Isaiah 61 (originally written for Syria)

Doubting your presence in the midst of such pain;
Doubting the broken can be whole again;
Doubting refugees will return to their homes;
Doubting children can laugh and play games;
Doubting that talks ever lead to results;
Doubting  my prayers will add up to much.

But yet I stand firm in the truth of your Word,
Knowing my prayers will be answered and heard.
Your Spirit is working through this oppression,
Constantly comforting and healing the broken.
Your Spirit speaks freedom, announces good news,
It can bridge any rift caused by differing views.

They are terribly insulted; horribly mistreated,
The Lord alone can see justice righted.
In him the wounded, lost, injured, bereaved
Can be blessed and joyful, and fully redeemed.

A joy buried deep in a land that seems dead,
Brings flowers to bloom from bitter tears shed;
Oil of joyous praise will flow from cracked hearts,
One day the grieving will build cities and parks.
The children will see their children play games –
And the treasure of their nation enjoying new fame.

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