I'm offering the prayer for peace at the Redondo Beach National Day of Prayer Service this afternoon. This is what I'm prayin' for...
God of many names, you formed all humankind to live in peace, yet your beloved creation is broken by violence. The earth is besieged by pollution. Nations wage war against nations. Terrorists inflict pain and fear against civilians. Gangs battle one another in the streets, and innocent children are caught in the crossfire. Even our personal relationships are often bereft of peace, as friends are divided by quarrels and families are shattered by irreconcilable differences. In a world marred by such pain, our hearts are anxious.
And so we pray for healing, for reconciliation, for peace. The sacred scriptures from so many faith traditions bear witness to a world in which peace is a reality. Renew our vision of a peaceable world, and give us hope that conflict will give way to harmony.
You are the God of every nation, and so we pray for all leaders throughout the world. Restore justice to governments that abuse their citizens with corrupt practices or harsh treatment. Teach the nations to study war no more. Retrain leaders in the ways of diplomacy and cooperation, especially as we live in an era in which oil and water and food are scarce. Break our addiction to systems that exploit the earth and keep its resources controlled by so few. Let the peoples of every land seek the common good.
God of comfort, we lift up all people who live beneath a shadow of violence. Lend them your presence. Cast out their fear. Mend the wounds of all who have been victimized by war, so that they may be made whole in body, mind, and spirit. We pray especially for peace in Iraq, Afghanistan, Mexico, Somalia, Sudan, Israel, and the Palestinian territories.
God of life, we confess that the greatness of our own country is compromised by our tendency toward violence. We mourn that school shootings have left even our children wondering if they are safe in their classrooms. We grieve the statistics that reveal how often Americans use weapons to harm other Americans. Keep us safe, O God, and transform the hearts of those who believe that pulling the trigger solves anything.
God of mercy, we cannot pray for peace without also praying to be made peacemakers. Instill in each of us a conscience that will not allow us to be silent in the face of evil. Give us the courage to speak out against injustice, for as your prophet Martin Luther King Jr. taught, there will be no peace without justice. Help us to make peace in our homes and neighborhoods. Let your love for us empower us to love one another, not only with our best intentions but with our best actions.
We pray all of these things, and so much more, with confidence that you will listen and respond. Amen.