A Prayer for Peace
Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Luke 9:28-29
This coming Sunday we celebrate the festival of the Transfiguration of our Lord. We conclude a season that began with the heavens being dramatically ripped open as Jesus was baptized and a voice from heaven saying, You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’ This Sunday, we’ll hear that same voice speaking as Jesus is transfigured before the astonished disciples: “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”
In both cases, Luke sets these dramatic moments of revelation in the context of prayer. Luke, among all the gospels, is the go-to gospel emphasizing the power of prayer. In Luke, prayer precedes revelation, invites the activity of God, and is the driving force behind Jesus’ mission. Luke presents Jesus as a model of prayer, who practices what he teaches. The message to the church is obvious: if prayer fuels the entire work of God in Luke’s Gospel, how can we fail to imitate Jesus’ example of prayer?
This year, we celebrate the Transfiguration in the context of war. The relative geopolitical stability that we’ve enjoyed for over fifteen years has been shattered by an unprovoked attack by a world superpower upon a neighboring country. With the rest of the world, we watch on in anxiety; awaiting the inevitable humanitarian crises as well as possible future escalations that have the potential of upsetting the daily life and safety of every person on this planet.
What resources do we have in face of extraordinary military might? It is the same resource that Jesus and his disciples had; we can pray. Let us pray for the people of Ukraine that they may be protected. Let us pray for governmental leaders for insight and courage to lead their people in the ways of peace. Let us pray for aggressors that they may be transformed and turn from perpetrating evil upon the most vulnerable.
I was personally touched by a prayer that has been circulating on social media. It is a prayer set to music, namely the tune Finlandia (This is my Song), so it can be sung if one is so moved. The lyrics are by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette* and I hope it is a help to you as it has been to me:
We pray for peace, O God of love and justice,
as once again, we face a time of war.
The meek and humble try — amid the crisis —
to love and build, to nurture and restore.
May leaders hear the truth the prophets teach us —
that gifts of peace are well worth struggling for.
We pray for peace, O Christ who calmed the waters —
who stilled the storm, who stilled disciples’ fear.
You spoke with love and with amazing power;
be with us now when trouble is so near.
May leaders see the miracle you offer —
that words and deeds can calm the nations here.
We pray for peace, O Spirit here among us;
your love emboldens, judges, and restrains.
Take any hate and acts of impulse from us;
make leaders wise, amid competing claims.
May we seek peace, O God of love and justice;
may love and mercy be our highest aims.
* A Hymn for Peace, Copyright © 2022 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved. Permission is given for free use of this hymn, including online, by churches that support Sojourners.