I invite you to pray! Whether you believe in a supreme being or not, whether or not you are part of a religious group or congregation, you may feel the need to do something in these trying times. I’m prejudiced, but I believe that my Episcopal tradition offers a rich array of prayers for almost every need and occasion. Here is a selection, slightly edited, from the Book of Common Prayer (pages 814-41). My suggestion is to read each one slowly in a quiet, peaceful place, paying attention to the words and considering how they might relate to you, your loved ones, those you may not like too much, and the wider world. If you cannot direct your thoughts to a divine being, try addressing it to someone whom you admire who has predeceased you; that soul may have some clout on “the other side”! There are often positive results to praying.
For Joy in Creation
Dear God, who has filled the world with beauty: Open our eyes to behold your gracious hand in all your works; that, rejoicing in your whole creation, we may learn to serve you and others with gladness. Amen.
For the Human Family
O Divine Love, look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may live in harmony. Amen.
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 Peace, as children of one human family. Amen.
For our Enemies
O God, whose son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth; deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you. Amen.
For our Country
O God, who has given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech you that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of your favor and glad to do your will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in your name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in you to fail. Amen.
For Sound Government
- O Lord our Governor, bless the leaders of our land, that we may be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to other nations of the earth.
- To the President and members of the Cabinet, to Governors of States, Mayors of Cities, and to all in administrative authority, grant wisdom and grace in the exercise of their duties.
- To Senators and Representatives, and those who make our laws in States, Cities, and Towns, give courage, wisdom, and foresight to provide for the needs of all our people, and to fulfill our obligations in the community of nations.
- To the Judges and officers of our Courts give understanding and integrity, that human rights may be safeguarded and justice served.
- And finally, teach our people to rely on your strength and to accept their responsibilities to their fellow citizens, that they may elect trustworthy leaders and make wise decisions for the well-being of our society. Amen.
For an Election
Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our powers and privileges: Guide the people of the United States in the election of officials and representatives; that, by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of all may be protected and our nation be enabled to fulfill your purposes. Amen.
For Those who Influence Public Opinion
Dear God, you proclaim your truth in every age by many voices: Direct, in our time, we pray, those who speak where many listen and write what many read; that they may do their part in making the heart of this people wise, its mind sound, and its will righteous. Amen.
For Social Justice
Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart and especially the hearts of the people of this land, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace.