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Prayers for Justice, Reconciliation, and Peace

"Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.” (Psalm 85:10)

Scripture is full of visions of the future day when righteousness and peace will infuse our world. But Christians should not be content to sit back and wait for that day to come. Scripture is also clear that we are accountable for the havoc we’ve wreaked in God’s world, that we are to work for justice and seek righteousness, that we are to go before God and implore that he will redeem this world already now. Use me, Lord, use even me.

While we know we are supposed to pray for these things, sometimes we don’t know what words to use. To that end we have provided these prayers, some newly written, most culled from other sources, as a place to start. Pray them as they are written, adapt them for your context, or use the links provided to learn more and write your own prayers. But do pray. —JB

“The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)

Peace and Justice

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

We come before you, Lord,
crying out in a violent land,
crying for peace.
Conflict is tearing people apart.
Our brothers and sisters suffer around the world.
We share their pain.

As refugees search for a home in foreign lands, guide them.
As world leaders try to dialogue peacefully, give them wisdom.
As strangers knock on our doors, help us to welcome them.

You are the Almighty, the Prince of Peace!
Give us hope for tomorrow.
May your peace flow like a river through a dry land.
Amen.

—Erica VanEssendelft, Office of Social Justice, Christian Reformed Church

Lord, you give us the unwavering call to do justice.
You tell us to defend the cause of the fatherless and the widow.
To love the foreigner residing among us.
To provide for the hungry, thirsty, and naked.
To love our enemy.

But Lord, it is overwhelming.
Do you not know that we are only human?

May your Spirit fill us with hope.
Remind us that we are good enough for you,
so that in all things, we will follow your will,
and take up the call to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with you.

—Erica VanEssendelft, Office of Social Justice, Christian Reformed Church

Unity of All

Hanto Yo

(Hanto Yo means “clear the way” in the Lakota language of the North American Plains.)

God of surprises,
you call us
from the narrowness of our traditions
to new ways of being church,
from the captivities of our culture to
creative witness for justice,
from the smallness of our horizons
to the bigness of your vision.

Clear the way in us, your people,
that we might call others to freedom
and renewed faith.

Jesus, wounded healer,
you call us
from preoccupation with our own histories and hurts
to daily tasks of peacemaking,
from privilege and protocol
to partnership and pilgrimage,
from isolation and insularity
to inclusive community.

Clear the way in us, your people,
That we might call others to
wholeness and integrity.

Holy, transforming Spirit,
you call us
from fear to faithfulness,
from clutter to clarity,
from a desire to control to deeper trust,
from the refusal to love to a readiness to risk.

Clear the way in us, your people,
that we might all know the beauty and power
and danger of the gospel.

—Gwyn Cashmore and Joan Puls, From One Race the Human Race: Racial Justice Sunday 2003, published by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland: Churches Commission for Racial Justice, London.

Immigration

Dear Lord, our shelter
and refuge for the oppressed,
we praise you for your ultimate power
and unsurpassable love.
We thank you for your unfailing justice and
we thank you for never forsaking those who love you.
O Lord of compassion,
we ask for your continued mercy for those who seek shelter,
for the refugees and immigrants in our midst.
Lord, we thank you for loving the stranger,
and we ask you to continue to protect those
who are without documentation.
We turn to you, God of refuge, power, love, and compassion,
through Jesus Christ, in whom we pray.
Amen.

—Carissa VanHaitsma, Office of Social Justice, Christian Reformed Church. This prayer is available as a bulletin insert at http://www.faithaliveresources.org/Products/810814/prayer-for-the-stranger-in-our-midst-bulletin-insert.aspx.

Lord of justice and mercy,
both strong and loving,
creator of the earth and humankind,
we praise you for your omnipotence
and we thank you for your presence in our lives.
Lord, we ask that you teach us to love our neighbor,
so that we may obey your commands.
We ask that you teach us to have compassion
for our neighbors who may be different from us,
so that we truly understand what it is to love.
We ask that you give us strength to speak for those
who cannot speak for themselves.
Lord, we wish to do your will:
to promote justice and live faithfully.
We ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.
Amen.

—Carissa VanHaitsma, Office of Social Justice, Christian Reformed Church

Our Lord, our ever-present help in times of trouble,
we know you are all powerful, all-seeing, and all-knowing.
We praise you for your wonderful and perfect attributes.
Lord, we know that you are omnipotent,
and we also admit to ourselves and to you
that we know we are not perfect.
We come to you, as the imperfect body of Christ,
to ask for your guidance, courage, and strength
as we seek to help the refugees and immigrants in our midst.
We wish to find a way to welcome those who are foreigners and strangers;
guide us, O Lord.
Teach us to be compassionate, so that we may welcome immigrants
as documented members of your kingdom.
Guide us to do your will.
Oh Lord, may your kingdom come.
Amen.

—Carissa VanHaitsma, Office of Social Justice, Christian Reformed Church

Lover of all humankind,
you call to us to be caring and hospitable
toward strangers in our midst.
When brothers and sisters from other countries
flee the difficulties of their land,
help us to welcome them and to walk gently with them.
When students and visitors from far away
choose our land as their destination,
help us to respond in kindness to their interests and needs.

[We pray especially for those living in fear;
those who risk deportation and imprisonment.
We pray for the undocumented immigrants in our country,
and we pray that the church may stand with those who are vulnerable.]

[We pray for wisdom and guidance for our legislators;
for those who govern and for those deciding how to improve our immigration system.
We pray that the need for dignity, respect, and better treatment of the strangers in our midst will outweigh insignificant politics.]
May we care for all our neighbors as for ourselves,
that we may know the blessing of giving. Amen.

—The Worship Sourcebook 4.5.1, p. 220 (© 2013 Faith Alive Christian Resources). Sections in brackets written by Carissa VanHaitsma, Office of Social Justice, Christian Reformed Church.

A Prayer of Indigenous Peoples, Refugees, Immigrants, and Pilgrims

Triune God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
we come before you as many parts of a single body.
people drawn from every tribe,
every nation, every language;
some indigenous—peoples of the land;
some refugees, immigrants, pilgrims—people on the move;
some hosts, some guests, some both hosts and guests;
all of us searching for an eternal place where we can belong.

Creator, forgive us.
The earth is yours and everything that is in it.
But we forget.
In our arrogance we think we own it.
In our greed we think we can steal it.
In our ignorance we worship it.
In our thoughtlessness we destroy it.
We forget that you created the earth to bring praise and joy to you.
That you gave it as a gift,
for us to steward,
for us to enjoy,
for us to see more clearly your beauty and your majesty.

Jesus, save us.

We wait for your kingdom.
We long for your throne.
We hunger for your reconciliation,
for that day where people from every tribe and every tongue
will gather around you and sing your praises.

Holy Spirit, teach us.
Help us to remember
that the body is made up of many parts,
each one unique and every one necessary.
Teach us to embrace the discomfort that comes from our diversity
and to celebrate the fact that we are unified, not through our sameness,
but through the blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Triune God, we love you.
Your creation is beautiful.
Your salvation is merciful.
And your wisdom is beyond compare.

We pray all this in Jesus’ name.
Amen.

—Mark Charles. This prayer appears in the hymnal Lift Up Your Hearts (#270), available at FaithAliveResources.org.

Celebrating God’s Image in All People

Creator,
We praise you for creating humankind with a wonderful variety of bodies
that have a staggering array of abilities.
Forgive us for taking our own abilities for granted
abilities like climbing steps, seeing, hearing, singing,
speaking, lifting a child, and walking a dog.
Forgive us for failing to use well the abilities you give us. 

We don’t listen to the young man with autism who has something to say.
We tell the young woman with cerebral palsy that she is not welcome to join the choir.
We choose not to visit the old woman with dementia because we assume she won’t remember. 
We think the man with Down syndrome is disrupting the worship service
when all you hear from him is praise. 
Forgive us.

God, you keep giving us second chances through your Son, our Savior.
Likewise, teach us to be gracious people who see your image in each person. 
Teach us to celebrate and encourage the gifts you have given to each of us.
In the name of Jesus, Amen.

—Mark Stephenson, Disability Concerns, Christian Reformed Church

Lord, teach us how to break the silence around mental illness.
Forgive us for building a wall between ourselves
and brothers or sisters in Christ who experience mental illnesses.
Grant us more wisdom and understanding,
and give us the grace to include all people in your kingdom. Amen.

—This prayer originally appeared in Let’s Talk by June Zwier and Winnie Visser, available at http://www2.crcna.org/site_uploads/uploads/disabilityconcerns/disability_letstalkstudy.pdf.

Image of God Litany

Created in Your image we spill coffee.
Created in Your image we lose our memories.
Created in Your image we lose our reasoning skills and imagination.
Created in Your image we lose our emotional and relational skills.
Created in Your image we are injured by accidents.
Created in Your image we do not hear or see or speak.

And yet, You call us beloved. 
Your name creation blessed.
In our vulnerability we are created in Your image.
And yet we are more than these, as You are more than vulnerability.
In our community with one another is our strength.

Created in Your image we have one another to clean up the coffee
and to tell the stories that we forget.
Created in Your image we trust one another and You
to remember to whom we belong.
Created in Your image we have You to behold in wonder and awe.

—This litany written by Jeanne Tyler originally appeared at crcna.org/pages/disability_iglitany.cfm

Hospitality

Jesus,
just as you welcome us into your kingdom,
help us to love each other deeply,
offer hospitality to one another without grumbling,
and encourage each to use the gifts we have received to serve others,
so that every one of us will be a faithful steward of God’s grace in its various forms. Amen.

—Shannon Jamaal-Hollemans, Office of Social Justice, CRCNA

Human Trafficking

O God, our words cannot express what our minds can barely comprehend and our hearts feel when we hear of children and adults deceived and transported to unknown places for purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor because of human greed.

Our hearts are saddened and our spirits angry that their dignity and rights are being transgressed through threats, deception, and force. We cry out against the degrading practice of trafficking and pray for it to end.

Strengthen the fragile-spirited and broken-hearted. Make real your promises to fill these our sisters and brothers with a love that is tender and good, and send the exploiters away empty-handed.

Give us the wisdom and courage to stand in solidarity with them, that together we will find ways to the freedom that is your gift to all of us. Amen.

—by S. Genevieve Cassani, SSND, School Sisters of Notre Dame, www.gerhardinger.org/english/jpicsen/jpictraffickingeng.htm

AIDS Day Prayer

Creator God,
Maker of heaven and earth and all living things,
we praise you for your creation.
God, who created the body of Christ
as one body, many parts, we praise you.
Creator God, we need you.

Almighty God,
all powerful, all knowing, and all loving,
we praise you for your power and your love.
God, we know that you bring healing and love to all those who suffer.
We thank you, because we know that no one is out of your reach.

We cry out to you, as one body, for your people are suffering.
God, there are people suffering in sickness from AIDS.
Lord, we come to you, weary and burdened,
as the body of Christ, suffering together, and we ask for rest.
Bring us healing, bring us rest.

Almighty God,
let the church be a force for transformation,
to bring both healing and hope.
Help us to share the message of hope
and of your grace offered also to those suffering from AIDS.
O Lord, help us to spread the news of a hope and a future
for your people, both within life and also after life.
Bring us healing, bring us rest.

Omnipotent God,
we know those who suffer most are those in poverty.
We recognize the social injustices that allow for more people to be sick.
Lord, we lament these injustices.
Lord, we rebuke these injustices!
Guide us, as your people, to be a vision of justice.
Help us know how to fight against poverty.
Lord, help us to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.
Creator and Almighty God, we need you.
Amen.

—Carissa VanHaitsma, Office of Social Justice, Christian Reformed Church

Lament for Abortion

God of heaven and earth,
you create every human life in your image.
You knit us with care and sustain us each day.
You shower us with gifts and look on us with pride.
You alone are the source of every good thing.
You are our strength, our courage, and our hope.

Lord, we lament for a world that does not recognize the value of every life,
whether born or preborn.
We cry out to you on behalf of the lives lost each day through abortion.
We grieve with those who grieve the loss of children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

Lord, we lift up in prayer to you those who need you most:

For those, even Christians, who believe the lie of culture
that life is only as valuable as its capabilities or resources,
we ask for you to soften hearts and reveal your truth.

For the many, many women who want to keep their unborn children
but cannot see any possible options for doing so,
we pray for support, encouragement,
and for sisters and brothers in Christ to rise up and meet their needs.

For women told lies about the impact that choosing abortion will have,
and for women who are told they have no choice, Lord, we ask for clarity and courage.

For men who will never know or hold their child,
and are left to wonder “what if,” we pray for comfort and strength.

For women whose bodies have been damaged,
some even to the point of death, by an abortion, Lord, we pray for healing.

For countries where policies restrict the number of children that can be born
or devalue the lives of women to the point that abortion is forced upon them,
particularly when they are carrying a daughter,
we pray for your hand to move to change unjust laws, to protect women at risk,
and to raise up a generation that will call on your name.
Surely, your arm is not too short to save!

Lord, forgive us for being parts of nations whose policies promote access to abortion
more readily than access to food for children living in poverty.
Open our eyes to recognize your face in the most vulnerable
and to offer the gifts you have freely given us to them with ready and generous hearts.

Mighty God, we cling to your promises—
for justice to be fulfilled,
for your grace to be made known,
and for your peace to rule in hearts and minds and lives.

Help us to live out the vision you have given us for life in this world.
Give us the will and the courage to put the lives of others before our own
and to advocate on their behalf,
to sacrifice where necessary and to serve where needed.

Lord, you are ever-faithful. Make us faithful in our service to you. Amen.

—Shannon Jammal-Hollemans, Office of Social Justice

A Prayer for Christians Facing Persecution

O Lord God,
your Son Jesus Christ suffered and died for us.
In his resurrection
he restores life and peace in all creation.
Comfort, we pray, all victims of intolerance
and those oppressed by their fellow humans.
Remember in your kingdom those who have died.
Lead the oppressors towards compassion
and give hope to the suffering.
Through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

—from http://www.churchofengland.org/prayer-worship/topical-prayers/prayer-for-christians-facing-persecution-abroad.aspx

Prayers for Reconciliation and Peace in Syria

God of history,
witness of the struggles within families;
we pray for the divided family of Syria
as brother fights against brother,
and sister rejects sister.
We pray for those whose love of neighbour
has been destroyed in the bitterness of enmity.
May fear be submerged in compassion.
May distrust be diluted by hope,
as a vision of peace illuminates
darkened minds and hate-filled hearts.
We pray in the name of Christ,
our source of light and love. Amen.

Spirit of wisdom and grace,
the power of truth and judgement;
we pray for all who are working for peace
in the tangled conflict of Syria today.
For international leaders holding a thread of control,
for the politicians holding a thread of power,
for the religious leaders holding a thread of authority,
for the fighters holding a thread of influence,
and the citizens clinging to a thread of hope.
Bring unity through the untangled order of justice.
Bring reconciliation through truthful dialogue.
Bring new life through patient diplomacy,
determined mediation and courageous peace-making.
We pray in the name of Christ,
our source of inspiration and confidence. Amen.

http://www.churchofengland.org/prayer-worship/topical-prayers/prayers-for-syria.aspx