What does it mean to pray for peace?
REFLECTION – Father David, responsible for Hebrew speaking Catholics in Israel, was invited to participate in an interfaith evening of prayer for peace in the Museum on the Seam in Jerusalem. The evening, which took place on October 29, 2014, included prayers and reflections by Jews, Christians and Muslims. We publish here Father David’s short address.
We are gathered here to pray for peace, Jews, Christians and Muslims. Together we raise our voices to God our Creator, and in the words that reflect our different but related traditions, we ask God to bless us with peace.
What in fact are we doing when we pray for peace? Let us first make quite clear what we are not doing: Surely we are not informing God about the sad state of the world. God knows about that a lot better than we do. Surely we are not telling God what God should be doing. We can trust that God knows better than we do what to do.
Prayer is first and foremost a time of personal transformation. When I pray for peace, I ask to be made an instrument of that peace, a peace maker. In asking for that grace, I realize how much violence, war and terrorism there is within me. I identify how much my own being, my words and my acts do not correspond to what I am praying for.
I ask that I might have the courage of my convictions. I ask that my thoughts, my words and my acts – what I do and what I fail to do correspond to the prayer that I am formulating. I ask that I might be filled with God’s own breath, the Spirit of peace, and serve as an apostle of that Spirit, bringing peace wherever I go.
However, prayer is also a communal act. When we pray for peace in our communities, we must similarly become aware of how our communities contribute to the lack of peace and ask forgiveness. We must come into prayer humbly with an attitude of repentance for all that we, as community, have contributed to the sorry state of the world.
We ask that the moment of prayer might be a prophetic moment in which we see beyond the walls that we have constructed, towards the alternatives, the possibilities, the new horizons that lie beyond the walls. We ask for an outpouring of Spirit that can make our communities builders of bridges instead of walls.
Finally, when we pray as we are this evening, Jews, Christians and Muslims together, we stand before our Lord, our Creator, our heavenly King. We must realize that in God’s sight, we are all God’s beloved children. In God’s sight, we must call each other brothers and sisters or else we are betraying the one who created us and breathed into us the breath of life.