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Praying for Peace

This week's reflection is from the Associate Vicar

The last few weeks have seen a bellicose buildup of troops along the borders of Ukraine, with images of tanks and missiles, and the wearying uncertainty about whether and when hostilities might break out. Meanwhile, violence continues elsewhere in the world — in Myanmar, in Ethiopia, in Afghanistan, and close to home as well.

Thank God that we are called by our faith to pray for peace.

Praying for peace is more than a perfect antidote to the doom scrolling of news. Praying for peace allows us to believe in peace, to believe that peace is real and possible, that peace what God dreams for us. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

We cannot be the sort of false prophets that Jeremiah warned against, crying “‘Peace, peace’ where there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:13–14). To pray for peace is not to close our eyes to the pain of the world around us; it is to open our eyes to the world’s brokenness and cry out to God for help.

Peace, שָׁלוֹם, shalom, is far more than the absence of war. It is welfare, well-being, wholeness and completeness. Peace lies close in the heart of our scriptures. The great Jewish sages wrote “All that is written in the Torah was written for the sake of peace” (Tanhuma Shoftim 18), a sentiment which clearly echoes Proverbs 3:17, ”[Wisdom’s] ways are pleasant ways and all her paths are peace."

To pray for peace, then, is to walk along the way of God’s Wisdom. Our prayers for peace are travelling prayers, prayers which meander and which allow God’s grace to create and bring life. Our prayers for peace might inspire us to work for peace, in ways great or small. Our prayers for peace may simply (but so preciously) make space for peace in our own hearts, a still, small voice of calm. Our prayers for peace may be just what a stranger or a friend needs to hear in the midst of their fear and anxiety.

Almighty God, from whom all thoughts of truth and peace proceed: Kindle, we pray thee, in the hearts of all the true love of peace; and guide with thy pure and peaceable wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth; that in tranquillity thy kingdom may go forward, till the earth is filled with the knowledge of thy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(From The Shorter Prayer Book, attr. Bp Francis Paget)

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