Pray for Peace
There is so much violence in the world right now. What can we do?
Racial tensions are escalating. Conflict in the Middle East is mounting. Terrorist groups are committing horrific acts. There's widespread religious persecution.
What is our responsibility to our world? How can we overcome such widespread violence? We must stand up for harmony. We must pray for peace. This prayer is not just wishful thinking. Effective prayer is a deep-seated conviction that loving "God with all [our] heart, soul, mind, and strength" does indeed transform lives (Mark 12:30 CEV). We must develop the faith Mary had when the angel told her she would be Jesus' mom: "For with God nothing shall be impossible" (Luke 1:37 KJV). We must pray like Jesus did, like he taught his disciples to do, like he taught us to do.
How did he pray? His Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7) is a blueprint for peace. Jesus instructs us: "Happy are those who make peace" (Matt 5:9 Phillips). He enlists us to be in the peacemaking business, to stand up to terrorism with love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" (Matt 5:44 KJV).
Eugene Peterson puts Jesus' instructions like this:
"You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend,' and its unwritten companion, 'Hate your enemy.' I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that." (The Message, Matt 5:43-47)
Jesus also tells us to see God as "Our Father"—not just my Father, but "our" Father (Matt 6:9). This is inclusive. If we see everyone as having one Parent, God, then we are all members of the same, God-created family—without race or creed.
Reading the Sermon on the Mount every Sunday is a fantastic way to pray for the world and for ourselves. We can take everything we read and apply it to every situation in the world that presents itself. We can be God's peacemakers. And we can start at home: "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me." Blessed praying!