Prayers for peace in the world

PRAYER FOR MULTI-FAITH SERVICE AT THE START OF THE INTER-FAITH CONFERENCE, BRISBANE, 2009

Marian Free

Jesus taught that those who follow him should forgive not just seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:1-22
In many instances forgiveness is the first step towards peace. Forgiveness means letting go of anger and bitterness. Forgiveness frees one to move forward instead of being held in the grip of the past. Jesus not only taught forgiveness, he lived it. When he was dying he asked God to forgive those who nailed him to the cross. He offered forgiveness to a criminal who was being crucified with him.

Jesus urged his followers to love their enemies and to pray for those who persecuted them. Matthew 5:43-44. Love seeks nothing for itself and sees past antagonism to the human frailty which generates hatred. Love breaks the circle of antagonism and opens the way for dialogue and understanding.

Jesus parting gift to the disciples was peace: [Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. John 14:27] The deep peace of God – one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit – does not allow resentments to build up or hatreds to develop. Being at peace with oneself means that the behaviour of others has less power to hurt or control.  The peace within becomes the peace one lives and the peace one radiates to the world.
Let us pray:
God of peace revealed to us in your Son Jesus,
fill our hearts with a spirit of generosity and understanding,
imbue our lives with peace so that we may be at peace with the world around us,
persuade us that we are forgiven so that we may freely forgive others.
May the love that we know be the love that we show – to friend and foe alike. Amen.


THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF SEPTEMBER 11

Marian Free

Notes
You might like to create some sort of visual focus

A cross made out of steel, a power point presentation using images from September 11, other conflicts, a flower arrangement symbolising peace, a white dove or any imagery which speaks to your community

Many people like to do something concrete. You might like to provide sand for lighting candles or bowls of water in which people might place flowers.

Mozart’s Requim or other music might provide a suitable background.

PRAYER FOR PEACE IN THE WORLD

We gather together to call to mind an act of terror so devastating the the whole world was appalled and sought to find a way to understand. Today we take time to reflect on the past and the enormity of what occurred, to remember those whose lives were lost, to remember our own sinfulness and to pray for peace and harmony in all corners of the world.

Opening Prayer:

God of infinite compassion,

with mercy on us your people.

Comfort us in our moments of terror,

sustain us through times of trouble

and encourage us in moments of despair.

Make us bold in times of doubt

and gentle in moments of  anger.

May we be strong in the face of danger,

bold enough to speak the truth,

wise enough to know what is right

and courageous enough to be builders, with you,  of a new creation. Amen.

 

Confession:

Loving God, when we mar your creation through jealously, hatred, fear or greed,

recreate us in your image.

When we exclude or reject others who are different from us,

remind us that they too are created in your image.

When we protect what we have at the expense of those who have not,

free us from our anxiety about the future and teach us to trust in you.

Creator God in whose image is all humankind,

renew and transform us, that we may be agents of love and peace

– in our hearts, in our homes, in our communities, in the nation and in the world. Amen.
Absolution:

God forgives your faults and asks you to forgive the faults of others

so that you may stand humbly in unity with all humankind

– equally sinful, equally forgiven and equally determined to learn from the past

and to move together into a new and better future. Amen.


Readings: (Suggestions only)

(Allow a time of quiet reflection after each)

Isaiah 11:1-8; 55:12-23

Psalm 46; 91:1-6, 9-16; 121

Matthew 5:1-12 (Luke 6:20-26); Matthew 5:38-48 (Luke 6:27-39); John 14:27

Address: (if desired)

Reflection: Name all the places and situations where there is conflict (or where there has been in the last decade) – place a national flag near your focal arrangement as you say each name, or light a candle as you say the name of a country. (In 2002 the list was endless – Somalia, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Solomon Islands, Aceh, Pakistan, India, Kashmir, Tibet, Zimbabwe, Croatia, Serbia, The Congo, Sierra Leonne, Rwanda, Israel, Palestine, Columbia, Georgia, Fiji………)

We call to mind:

All places where people live in fear;

Minority groups who are persecuted for their race or their faith;

Those separated from family and loved ones by politics or war;

Refugees living half-lives, waiting for a nation to give them a home;

Political prisoners and all those afraid to speak of what they see;

And especially we bring before God those places and situations

where violence and horror continue on a daily basis and which have long since passed from mind.

(Silent reflection)

Prayers:

(Allow people time to respond or to light candles)

God our rock,  when people wreak havoc in the lives of others,

we seek the calm of your peace.

When frustration, anger and hatred lead people to horrendous acts of violence and terror,

we seek you understanding, forgiveness and grace.

Where governments unjustly coerce and where leaders seek only their own power and their own gain,

we seek wisdom to know whether and when to intervene.

When cowardice and insecurity lead to a failure to act,

we seek the wisdom and courage to speak as prophets.

When we simply cannot understand and do not know how to respond,

we seek the answers only you can give.

When we are so overwhelmed that we do not know even where to begin,

we seek the comfort of your consoling love.

In the face of horror which is beyond our understanding,

we seek your face again O  God.

We pray for the children caught up in the spiral of hatred,

those who carry injuries, those who are orphaned,

those who know nothing but war and terror,

God of grace. Hear our prayer.

We pray for the children forced to fight in wars they may or may not understand,

for those who lose their innocence behind the barrel of a gun.

God of grace. Hear our prayer.

We pray for all thsoe who have lost loved ones through war, persecution or terrorism.

God of grace. Hear our prayer.

We pray for those who will carry the scars of violence throughout their lives.

God of grace. Hear our prayer.

We pray for those who live in fear long after wars have ended

because their land is marred by mines.

God of grace. Hear our prayer.

We prayer for those escaping violence and seeking a safe haven.

God of grace. Hear our prayer.

We pray for a welcome for all who seek it.

God of grace. Hear our prayer.

We pray for freedom and justice for all.

God of grace. Hear our prayer.

We pray for just distribution and wise use of the resources of the earth

that all may be fed and housed and look forward to the promise of a future.                                                              God of grace. Hear our prayer.

We pray for the protection of the innocent.

God of grace. Hear our prayer.

We pray too for hose who produce weapons of mass destruction.

God of grace. Hear our prayer.

We pray for those who are prepared to losetheir own lives to destroy the lives of others.

God of grace. Hear our prayer.

We pray for those who respond to violence with violence.

God of grace. Hear our prayer.

We pray for understanding between the nations of the world,

a willingness to learn,

for humility and a desire for peace .

God of grace. Hear our prayer.

When we cannot find peace in the world,

may we seek and find that peace that only you can give.

The Lord’s Prayer:

Benediction:

The Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make his face to shine upon you,

and be gracious to you,

the Lord lift up his countenance upon you

and give you his peace, now and always. Amen.

Dismissal:

Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you, I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not let them be afraid.” (Jn 14:17).

Copyright: Marian Free 2002.

 

Prayers the Sunday after September 11, 2001

(Reading – The Lost Sheep)

Holy God, when we are faced with events too terrible for us to understand,

Draw us into your presence and peace.

Loving God, when we are filled with anger and frustration,

Give us the grace not to turn our anger into hatred and our frustration into violence.

Patient God, when our fellow human beings reveal to us the worst of human nature,

Challenge us to seek our the best in ourselves.

Eternal God, when we see lives cut short, families broken and nations devastated,

Remind us that your kingdom is not of this broken and shattered world.

Living god, when darkness surrounds and faith is shaken by pain too deep to bear,

Stay with us until we know again the light of your presence.

God of the living and the dead,

turn our frustration to hope, our sorrow to joy and our pain to peace. Amen.

Copyright: Marian Free, 2001


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