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  • Writer's pictureThe Rev. Beth Knowlton

Praying for Peace

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:7

It was only a year ago that I was finalizing plans for our long delayed interfaith trip to Israel with members of St. Mark’s and Temple Beth-El. A group of over 30 of us traveled in March. We had an amazing guide, Uri Feinberg and saw many things together. We all learned at a deeper level of the complexity of this holy region.

What was most lasting for me was the hope in the local experiences and efforts for peace in which we learned. People against all odds working across religious and political lines to seek peace. Whether it was selling olive oil, creating places for real interfaith dialogue, or choosing to educate their children to know one another, they were real people, living in that area, making daily choices to be in relationship with one another.

The situation in that region of the world has been and will remain complex. But that complexity should not prevent us from praying, even if we don’t have the words. The horrors which unfolded last weekend as Hamas brutally attacked civilians and took hostages are evil, and we cannot as people of faith look away. Concerns around the real suffering of the Palestinians are not negated by condemning that kind of terror.

We must seek peace and pray for it on the hardest days when it seems hopeless. We must pray for justice when we are unsure of what that means. We are not God, but we are called to pray to God and ask for a resolution that honors all people. We are also a faith that believes God became human to reconcile the world.

Like the small local efforts our group witnessed, we must act towards healing and real relationships. Personally, this means reaching out to people of other faiths as well as my own faith who are hurting because of this unrest. And I do mean actually reaching out. Silence because we fear saying the wrong thing can be harmful, but calling a friend and assuring them I care by letting them know that I am praying for them can be powerful and meaningful even when it cannot solve anything.

It is praying without words by imagining the faces of all who are in harm’s way and trusting that God is bigger and can see a way forward that is not visible to us. I encourage you to find some time to pray for our world. Stillness and quiet, contemplative prayer during times like these has been helpful in my own spiritual practice.

I also offer this one for peace from the Book of Common Prayer.

Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn

but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the

strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that

all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of

Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and

glory, now and for ever. Amen.


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