Prayers in Times of War and Civil Unrest

A Christian Prayer for Peace in Our Time

O God, author and giver of peace,
in whose image and likeness each of us has been created
with a human dignity worthy of respect on earth
and destined for eternal glory,
Listen to the cry that rises from every corner of this fragile earth,
from our human family torn by violent conflict:

Give peace in our time, O good and gracious God,
that peace which, as your son Jesus Christ told us
and as we have experienced in these days,
is a peace which the world cannot give.

To world leaders grant the wisdom
to see beyond the boundaries of race, religion, and nation
to that common humanity that makes us all your children
and brothers and sisters to one another.

To those who have taken up arms in anger or revenge
or even in the cause of justice
grant the grace of conversion to the path of peaceful dialogue
and constructive collaboration.

To the innocent who live in the shadow of war and terror,
especially the frightened children,
be a shelter and strength, their haven and hope.

And to those who have already lost their lives
as victims of human cruelty and chemical warfare,
open wide your arms and enfold them all
in the embrace of your compassion, healing, and everlasting life.

Grant this through Jesus Christ, your son, our Lord.
Mary, Mother of all and Queen of peace, pray for us.

- Peter J. Scagnelli

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Pope John Paul II's Prayer for Peace

Lord Jesus Christ, who are called the Prince of Peace,
who are yourself our peace and reconciliation,
who so often said, "Peace to you," grant us peace.

Make all men and women witnesses of truth, justice,
and brotherly love.
Banish from their hearts whatever might endanger peace.

Enlighten our rulers that they may
guarantee and defend the great gift of peace.
May all peoples on the earth
become as brothers and sisters.
May longed for peace blossom forth
and reign always over us all.

- Pope John Paul II

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A Christian Reflection

Lord God,
Remember Christ, your Son, who is peace itself,
and who has washed away our hatred with his blood.
Because you love all men and women,
look with mercy on all who are engaged in battle.
Banish the violence and evil within all combatants
so that one day, we may all deserve to be
called your sons and your daughters.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.

- Author Unknown

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Refugees and Victims of War

Lord God,
No one is a stranger to you
And no one is ever far from your loving care.
In your kindness, watch over refugees and victims of war,
Those separated from their loved ones,
Young people who are lost,
And those who have left home or who have run away from home.
Bring them back safely to the place where they long to be,
And help us always to show your kindness
to strangers and to all in need.

- Author Unknown

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Prayer for Ordinary Time

Loving God,

Our church calendar tells us that we are back again in Ordinary Time.  Advent passed through its four weeks. We celebrated the birth of Jesus with angels singing and shepherds visiting and magi following a star from the East and bearing gifts. Yes, we have finished this holy season. Still, somehow, this time does not seem ordinary; it is anything but that.

This “ordinary time” is marked by masked faces, social distancing, and “germ circles.” Headlines shout out frightful numbers of individuals who have contracted Covid-19, thousands every day. Each of these numbers affects the lives of spouses, children, friends with care and worry, with work to help cure and coax loved ones back to health. And the number of deaths chills survivors in worry and guilt – what should I have done, what should I do now? Just to travel to a small funeral to say good-bye to a loved one and offer you our prayer leads to days of quarantine and extra separation. Holy God, loving God, can this really be “ordinary time?” 

This “ordinary time” is marked also by deep economic hardship for many. Mothers and fathers have worked hard to provide for their families, and now their jobs are gone.  “Sorry, the work you have done for us is not needed any more. Good-bye!” “Sorry, we appreciate what you do, but we cannot afford it any more. Good-bye and good luck!” The ordinary ways of working and providing and living have disappeared for many.

And recently in this “ordinary time” we have seen our fellow citizens rise up in anger and violence, destroying, injuring, even killing others to push their narrow agendas. In scenes that would fit easily into war zones, they invade our honored spaces and violate standards of citizen behavior. Neighbors have turned into crazed killers. Old friends and colleagues are now out of control. Where is ordinary time?

Perhaps, Lord, no time is really ordinary. Where you are, the extraordinary tries to lift us up, to let us see beyond the everyday and catch hints of what can be, of who we could be if we gave room to our best selves, of what we could do if we banded together in common purpose and resolve.

Part of ordinary time is the dedication of health care workers. Part is families sharing resources to get through economic breakdown. Part must be the guardians of public safety who risk their lies and health, even give up that life, to keep order and peace. 

We come to you, loving God, with hope in our hearts and prayer on our lips. We pray that care and compassion, watching and accompanying be part of our ordinary lives. We pray that our eyes be open to see the needs of those who struggle to provide for their families and that if we can help, we do help in ordinary ways. We pray that we try to understand each other in our struggles to make sense of the forces that are beyond any one of us, that we see beyond threats imagined or real, that we hear beyond shouted anger or mocking taunts or cursing threats and note the cries for help that rest mostly silent in ordinary times.

Holy God, you make all times holy, all places, all people in all the seasons of our lives. Ordinary time? It is all extraordinary with you.

- Ed Schmidt, S.J.
written January 12, 2021

Click here for a video of the prayer being prayed

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