A Prayer for This Week: For an End to Terror

Holy One,

In a week when praying feels like the only thing we can do, words are hard to find. Yet somehow we pray, with words, with tears, with sighs too deep for words.

We pray for all people and places that have experienced the terror of violence this week as the aftershocks of fear and grief reverberate through bodies and buildings:

          For the 43 people in Beirut and the 129 in Paris who were killed by Daesh;

          For the people who survived and are now grieving the loss of people they love—parents, children, lovers, spouses, friends, siblings;

          For the untold number of Syrians who have died in retaliation attacks;

          For Muslims around the world who are targets of renewed and vicious Islamaphobia; 

We want peace for these people and places, but we do not know how to achieve it. Help us to see with clarity how our own country’s actions have contributed to the violence we see and mourn in the world this week. Let our collective mourning and sense of solidarity drive us deeper into the work for peace in our own country, and let us not feel angry only at Daesh, but also at the political policies and realities that engender extremism.

We pray for the victims of violence in our own country, whose lives are lost to gun violence and a culture of hyper-masculinity and White supremacy:

          For all those killed by police this year, a number that reached 1,000 this week;

          For all those murdered in the city of Baltimore this year, a number that reached 300 this week;

          For the family of Anastasio Hernandez-Rojas, who was beaten and killed by US Border Agents and whose murder will now go un-prosecuted;

          For the People of Color in our country who are told through words and actions and policies that their lives do not matter; 

We want peace in our communities, but we do not know how to achieve it. Help us to see the violence in our own communities and listen to those who are most directly affected by it. Help us to listen and believe them and follow them when they ask for solidarity and resistance. Let our collective longing for safety drive us deeper into the work of justice in our own communities. Let us feel angry not only at individual instances of violence, but also at the systems and policies that value some lives and not others. 

We pray for an end to terror:

          terror of extremist armed groups and the terror of well-funded national militaries,

          terror of White supremacy and police brutality,

          terror of easy access to guns and unjust economic policies.

 We pray thy kingdom come, and thy will be done, here on Earth this week as we believe it is in Heaven. Give us what we need for the next week—food, people to love, the courage to stand up to what is unjust. Forgive us for the ways that we have been complicit in the violence we have seen this week, for our country’s policies and our own willful ignorance of systemic injustices. Help us also to forgive those who have hurt us so that our own wounds do not drive us to wound others. Lead us not into the temptation of being driven by our fear, of justifying more violence, but deliver us from the evil that we have seen this week by giving us the courage and wisdom to refuse to believe that violence can put an end to violence. Help us to believe that the Kingdom of God is at hand, even in a week like this week when peace seems so out of reach. In believing, help us to create it. Amen.