Friends of Central Church,
Contentious elections. Quarantine fatigue. Hurricane and fire and floods. I don’t have to tell you the world and her people are hurting these days, and could use a prayer. So I’ve decided to use my column this month to simply list a few prayers I’m drawn to these days. You might take turns reciting them before your day begins, or over a meal, with others or alone. Contemplative writer and priest Henri Nouwen once shared that the ancient desert fathers regarded prayer as an act of “unhooking” from the harness of the world’s securities. Such prayer may be the only action powerful enough to free us from our spiritual bondage to property, money, power, ideas, and causes, which often control our behavior.
Here are 7 prayers, for the 7 days of the week, to lift up people and politics and possibility, in a time such as this –
Come Holy Spirit!
Oh G-d, give us the strength and wisdom to make it through this campaign season. To help us breathe, to help us ponder, to help us stay true to our humanity. Help us differentiate between fact and fiction, truth and lies. Help us to remember that our power lies not only in the voting booth, but also in our capacity to make a difference in our communities every day. That for all the insanity to come in the next month, there will be a day after Election Day and we’re going to have to come together to bring peace and justice to our country and the world. Amen.
-from the Jewish website, Ritual Well
O God, who gave one origin to all peoples
and willed to gather from them one family for yourself,
fill all hearts, we pray, with the fire of your love
and kindle in them a desire
for the just advancement of their neighbor,
that, through the good things which you richly bestow upon all,
each human person may be brought to perfection,
every division may be removed,
and equity and justice may be established in human society.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
-The Roman Catholic Prayer Missal
We are devastated to see the pain, suffering, and destruction caused by the West Coast wildfires. Our prayers are with all those affected by these fires, and we offer these intercessions for use at liturgy or for daily or personal prayer:
Make your Church a place of welcome and safety; enable Church communities to offer hospitality and practical support to all in need, we pray:
In the midst of disaster beyond our control, empower us to reach out in love to others, mending what is broken, and bringing hope where there is despair, we pray:
Where natural disasters are the result of environmental degradation, strengthen us to work for policies that protect humankind by protecting the environment, we pray:
We pray for all who have suffered physical harm; help us to accompany and support them in the process of healing, we pray:
We entrust to the arms of your mercy all those who have died; we hold in your love all who mourn their passing, we pray:
– Liturgy Training Publications
As election day nears, we pray most of all against a spirit of fear. The scriptures say that “God has not given us a spirit of fear but a spirit of love, a spirit of power and a strong mind.” Help us to remember the words of our Lord Jesus, who reminds us that love casts out fear and to be not afraid. If the Scriptures say, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil,” certainly we can make it through election day. No matter how we vote, let us vote more for the visions, ideas, and candidates that best represent our best values rather than voting against candidates simply because of the negative and often manipulative things that others have said about them.
Today we also pray for those who will vote differently than we do, for their own reasons also deeply rooted in faith. And we pray, despite the outcome of the election tomorrow, that we will find the ways to build bridges and work together for the common good of the country we all dwell in. And may our votes tomorrow be guided less by a fear of our neighbor and more by a hope for the future.
God has blessed all the nations of the world, not just America. But we pray tomorrow for God’s special blessing on our nation, and that the opportunities to fulfill our country’s greatest possibilities might be greatly enlarged.
-(from “A Prayer for Election Day” by Jim Wallis)
God of the seasons, there is a time for everything; there is a time for dying and a time for rising. We need courage to enter into the transformation process.
God of autumn, the trees are saying goodbye to their green, letting go of what has been. We, too, have our moments of surrender, with all their insecurity and risk. Help us to let go when we need to do so.
God of fallen leaves lying in colored patterns on the ground, our lives have their own patterns. As we see the patterns of our own growth, may we learn from them.
God of misty days and harvest moon nights, there is always the dimension of mystery and wonder in our lives. We always need to recognize your power-filled presence. May we gain strength from this.
God of harvest wagons and fields of ripened grain, many gifts of growth lie within the season of our surrender. We must wait for harvest in faith and hope. Grant us patience when we do not see the blessings.
God of geese going south for another season, your wisdom enables us to know what needs to be left behind and what needs to be carried into the future. We yearn for insight and vision.
God of flowers touched with frost and windows wearing white designs, may your love keep our hearts from growing cold in the empty seasons.
God of life, you believe in us, you enrich us, you entrust us with the freedom to choose life. For all this, we are grateful. Amen.
-A Prayer for Autumn Days By Joyce Rupp
Spirit of Wisdom, Truth, and Peace, guide us through this difficult time, and help us to resist the temptation to dream nostalgically of the old normal we have lost. Instead, help us lean forward toward a new normal, a wiser and better way of life that is more in harmony with your love for all people and for all creation. Help us better understand and value our interconnectedness on this beautiful, fragile planet. Empower all who serve the common good, encourage all who suffer, and expose all who mislead, whether through ignorance, greed, fear, or malice. Give birth to a new generation of moral leaders around the world, moral leaders who are guided by a just vision for the future rather than limited habits of the past … in our families and faith communities, in our cities and states and nations, and around this interconnected world, for the good of all.
O God, our Divine Parent,
the truth is often uncomfortable,
but no less the truth.
The strife of racial tension claims another life;
someone pays the price for years of suspicion,
mistrust, separation, and hatred.
The bleak wilderness is once again our address,
where we cry with hunger and thirst
for what seems to be a false dream.
Is “liberty and justice” really for all?
You, O God, who know us so well,
we seem incapable of being comforted,
saturated with the aches and pains of
bitter language, scornful treatment, spiteful violence.
What do we do with our unresolved, unfinished, unending grief?
Where can we turn with unpalatable hurt
that pollutes our thoughts and soils our shoes?
“Anger and alleluias careen around
within us, sometimes colliding.”
O God of tender compassion,
known for your steadfast love and faithfulness,
will our discomfort ever find resolution;
can’t you fix this – or inspire us to?
When we accept the phony gods of
persistent attitudes, arrogance and superiority
step up, step on, step in to quell our self-made idols.
Show us how wrong we are, how much we have lost,
how significantly more we have to learn,
how our hearts are frozen,
the kind of courage it takes to unclench our fist
and open our hand.
Confident that you hear our lament,
teach us the ways of peace, patience, hope and love
so that we may again praise you,
for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
-From the UMC website, credit to George R. Crisp, OSL