(The following prayers were submitted by Philadelphia Inquirer readers.)
Sister M. Aquinas of Northeast Philadelphia, a member of the Medical Mission Sisters, sent a Lenten Vespers liturgy whose words "enabled me to enter into my deeper feelings of sorrow and release tears for all the suffering in Iraq and in the U.S." Here is an excerpt, attributed to the Sumerian poet Enheduanna:
Lament in the Spirit of War
You hack everything down in battle...God of War, with your fierce wings you sliced away the land and charge disguised as a raging storm, growl as a roaring hurricane, yell like a tempest yells, thunder, rage, roar, and drum, expel evil winds! Your feet are filled with anxiety! On your lyre of moans, I hear your loud dirge scream.
Rabbi Jerome Epstein, executive vice president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the association of Conservative synagogues, wrote a widely distributed prayer of petition that several readers cited. It says, in part:
A Prayer for Our Soldiers
God of love, God of peace, Min Ha’Meitzar Karati Yah. Out of the depths of despair, we call to You. Our ears ring with the words "Do not fear." But our stomachs churn with the acid of doubt. Determined to preserve our shared world from the tyranny of terrorism, we turn to You for answers, for values, for strengths.
We stand before You with respect and concern for those who have been summoned to protect and secure our nation, our world. Give them the courage to meet the chilling stare of death...Return them safely to fulfill dreams unrealized so that they may bless Your name through the lives they live. May their efforts further the cause of peace throughout the world and bring us closer to the day when "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn of war anymore." Amen.
Prayer for Sanity
Ann Dow of Thorofare composed this "Prayer for Sanity" in responses to her belief that "God has to be neutral."
God of all, we call you by different names, but You listen anyway. You satisfy our need, but in our greed, we ask for more. You sustain us but do not restrain us because You gave us free will. Sadly, we use that gift of free will to kill freely and often in Your name.
Over and over, we have fought "holy wars" to convert others to our beliefs. Why are we so sure that we alone have Your blessing? Surely in Your infinite mercy You love us all equally, just as a mother loves all her children and wants them all to be safe.
In our present time of strife, when violence is rife, please give life to our hopes for a peaceful resolution of this war and absolution for our sins. Please shelter in Your loving arms Your errant children of all races and creeds. Let us see our likenesses rather than our differences and see Your face in all of us. Amen.
Prayer for Our Military
The Rev. William J. Bleiler, state chaplain of the New Jersey VFW, wrote the following "Prayer for Our Military" for distribution to VFW members. He is pastor of St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church in Cedarville, Cumberland County.
Almighty God, our Source of strength and courage, we ask Thee to guide the leaders of nations in the ways of peace and justice and enduring freedom for the peoples of the world.
In these times of peril and war against terrorism listen to our prayers for the men and women serving in our armed forces, our military leaders and our allies. Protect them all from harm as they go into battle on land, in the sea and in the air.
Take away whatever fear from their hearts and enable them to overcome swiftly and decisively the violence and cruelty of the enemy.
Protect them from the hatred of others and bolster their personal pride of being American as they rid our world of the works of darkness and weapons of mass destruction.
Console their loved ones and family members who remain on the home front. Gently dry the tears of those who mourn for the wounded in battle and those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Oh God, bless them with Thy presence. Grant us homeland security. May Thy Peace, the fruit of justice, truth and mercy, reign in America and throughout the world. Amen.
No Time to Pray? All You Need is One Minute
During World War I, an advisor to Winston Churchill organized a group of people who dropped what they were doing every day at a prescribed hour for one minute to collectively pray for the safety of England, its people, and peace.
There is now a group of people organizing the same thing here in America. You can join them every night at 9:00 PM Eastern time... stop whatever you are doing and spend one minute praying for the safety of the United States, its citizens, and for peace in the world.
www.presidentialprayerteam.org Features "Let’s Adopt Our Military in Prayer," by which visitors are randomly assigned the names of people to "adopt" in prayer.
www.spirituality.com/globalpeace Prayers for peace...a new one every day! Also prayers for our soldiers.
"Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands. Protect them as they protect us. Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need. I ask this in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen."
Prayer for Military Personnel
Be present with those who serve, O Lord. Be present with and guide all our military personnel. Sharpen their skills. Make their judgments true. Give them those things necessary to achieve their goals and defend our cause.
Be present with those who serve, O Lord Give to each man and woman your special love, strength, wisdom and grace, that their fears may be laid aside, their faith fostered, their courage made sure, and their spirits comforted by the knowledge of your divine presence throughout their days.
Be present with those who serve, O Lord Guard and protect them from evil and the ways of darkness that threaten us. Send your holy angels to have charge over them and bear them up. Bring to us all the victory of light over darkness as you are the God of light and love.