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Praying for peace is not as easy as it sounds. Praying for peace requires two separate but related beliefs. The first belief is that prayer ‘works’ and that our meditations and/or petitions to God can affect the material world and can change our individual and collective lives. The second conviction is that peace is worthy of the effort of prayer, that peace should be a goal for each person, and not to rest on the more realist (cynical) view that war and conflict are inevitable.
Today is the International Day of Prayer for Peace and it is a day of hope mixed with…desperation. Prayer becomes most urgent in moments when we don’t know where else to turn both in our personal lives and, as in the case with this day of peace, in our world. I am involved with an organization called Fellowship in Prayer that was founded 60 years as a response to the urgent crisis posed by the atom bomb which held (and still holds) the possibility of destroying all life on the planet. Fellowship in Prayer called upon people of goodwill, across all religious traditions, ‘East and West,’ to come together to pray for peace. For the last sixty years people in Fellowship in Prayer have been praying for peace, and one could say successfully, as the world has so far avoided nuclear destruction. Yet given the seemingly intractable conflicts that continue around the world, the need for prayer, and those dedicated to prayer, seems greater today than ever before.
On this day many groups from across the religious spectrum are praying for Peace. And even if it is not easy, you too should pray for peace today and every day. Praying for Peace means you are making a spiritual statement that yes, what I do with my spiritual practice matters, that my meditations can change myself, but also have the power to change the world. Or for me, as a Christian, praying for peace is a faith statement that God does hear our prayers in the hour of our deepest need, that God has a hand in this world, that God can change me, and that God can transform the world – and that God wants peace.
Praying for peace is one of the most faithful acts one can make. Jesus said, that those who make and pray for peace will be called the Children of God. Even if it is not easy – pray for peace!
Here is a prayer that I wrote for those working in International Relations and Statecraft. It was included in the book Prayers for the New Social Awakening. And below that you will see the original advertisement for the Fellowship in Prayer from 1949.
A Prayer for Those Working in International Relations and Statecraft
We pray for the people who are charged with safeguarding our
nation as they bridge culture, race and religion to painstakingly negotiate
terms of trade and forge alliances of security. May they view their task as sacred and be filled with hope, creativity
and endurance as they develop bonds among nations that are mutually beneficial
and will produce lasting peace and respect among all peoples. Lord, help our
leaders to look beyond grand palaces and corporate offices to carefully
consider the effects that the policies they are creating will have upon the
humble homes of the average citizen around the world. May America be girded by the spirit of cooperation and
generosity that recognizes the needs of others alongside our own so that the entire
world might enjoy a common wealth of food, drink, shelter, education and
Lord, may America not succumb to the sin of imperial
temptation, rather tether us to our religious commitment of servanthood. May we use our power in concert with
the international community so that we might collectively bring in a new era
marked by justice and peace. Let restraint
and compassion stay the cruel hand of war that slays the young and leaves
societies broken and bloody. May
cool minds prevail in seasons hot with destructive cycles of revenge. In combating the evils of this day let
us not become what we despise.
Rather hold us fast to our conviction that living without intimidation or
deprivation is a human right in our own country as well in others.
God of the Universe, may we forsake the hubris of claiming
you as our private possession, but rather may you claim us as we work for
reconciliation and the common good.
Lord, may none use religion as a rallying call for national militarism,
territorial expansion or terror based on dangerous readings of sacred texts. Rather
let us recognize the sacred in other human beings from every nation, class,
race or religion. Help us to love
both you and our neighbor and thereby fulfilling the great commandment of your
Son Jesus Christ, so that through our efforts for peace we might be known as your
May America and the entire world be blessed by your continued
providence in our time and for generations in the future. May Thy kingdom come, thy will be done
throughout the earth as it is in heaven. Amen.
Fellowship in Prayer’s Original New York Times Ad in December 12, 1949
OUR CALL TO PRAYER
an answer to
“GOD and the ATOM”
The Ferris Booth advertisement in THE NEW YORK TIMES on October third calling upon President Truman to start a “spiritual renaissance” is commendable and sound thinking, generally. However, the final responsibility falls upon each individual who believes in God, regardless of his religious affiliation. The President has called upon all people to take a greater interest in the religious life of each community. Can we expect more?
PRAYER IS THE ANSWER:–
The real strength and power of religion can only be exerted through invoking the presence of God in our lives and praying earnestly for the realization of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man toward the consummation of a better understanding in international and human relations. A believer in any faith can do this, as prayer is the means of communication with God in all of the great religions of the world. Prayer for good by believers in God can overcome the oppressors and put to flight the foes of righteousness.
IT IS ATTAINABLE:–
As individuals, we conduct business together, we mingle in social life, in sports there are no barriers. Surely we are not so biased that we fail to see the common attributes in other religions. TRUTH, HONESTY, JUSTICE, MERCY are basic elements in every great faith. In seeking God, let us omit the controversial issues. IF WE WILL TO DO IT–IT CAN BE DONE.
Begin now to pray in your own manner for the things set forth above. Do it frequently or at stated times. Talk it over with your family, your neighbors, your friends, your spiritual adviser. If possible, get your local newspaper to copy this article or comment upon it. Fellowship Circles could be formed. Do not, however, let it interfere with your regular religious duties–rather combine it with them. Our united prayers