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Putting Faith before Fear: Prayers from Those of Real Faith for Those in Congress with None

By C. L. McElvaine

From the cowardice that shrinks from new truth,
from the laziness that is content with half-truths,
from the arrogance which thinks it knows all truth,
O God of Truth, deliver us.

Leslie Weatherhead,
Congregationalist minister

The current calls for war and blood shed are coming mostly from people who nearly to a man and woman call themselves "religious" - "good Christians" and "good Jews." But though these people are awful darn fond of invoking the good Lord's name, I haven't yet seen just where God comes into any of this saber rattling and fear mongering. My Dad, a dedicated Methodist, used to say, "the opposite of fear is Faith." If that's the case, then these "good Christians" don't have one drop of real faith in them. All I heard when I listened to C-Span and heard the "yays" lined up giving their spiel, yielding this minute and that minute to other "yays", was a bunch of grown men and women so scared they wanted to hide under the bed, all because G.W. Bush told them bogeyman stories - and stories that from what I can gather, had about a half ounce of fact to every 10 ounces of moonshine. I can't say when I was more ashamed of my government.

Since I come from a "good Christian" family that puts faith before fear, I thought maybe I'd share a few prayers with our poor, terrorized federal legislators. Maybe it might make them remember what real faith is all about long enough to come out from under the bed and act like grown up men and women.

Two Prayers from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts

We confess that in our lives we do not always choose the way of peace.
We spread gossip which fans the flames of hatred. We are ready to make any sacrifice when the world demands
but few when God invites. We worship the false God of security.
We hold out one hand in friendship,
but keep a weapon in the other behind our back.
We have divided your body of people
into those we trust and those we do not.
Huge problems challenge us in the world,
but our greed, fear, and selfishness
prevent us from uniting to solve them.
Lord, we need your help and forgiveness, your reconciling power.

I am wear of the dark voices crying doom;
I am weary of the fearful voices crying only for their nation;
I am weary of the disinherited voices crying in hopelessness;
let my voice sing the laughter of God;
let my voice sing good news to the poor;
let my voice sing restitution of the oppressed;
let my voice sing healing of the violated;
let my voice sing the return of the banned;
let my voice be the laughter of God. Amen

O, Lord,
open my eyes that I may see the need of others,
open my ears that I may hear their cries,
Open my heart so that they need not be without succor.
Let me not be afraid to defend the weak
because of the anger of the strong,
nor afraid to defend the poor because of the anger of the rich.
Show me where love and hope and faith are needed,
and use me to bring them to these places.
Open my eyes and ears that I may, this coming day,
Be able to do some work of peace for thee.

Alan Paton, 1903-1988, who worked with juvenile delinquents in South Africa, where he was also an activist in the racial issue.

Dear Lord,
awaken the people of the Earth and their leaders to the realization of the madness of the nuclear arms race. Today we mourn the dead of past wars, but will there be anyone to mourn the dead of the next one?

O, Lord, turn us away from our foolish race to self-destruction; let us see that more and more weaponry indeed means more of a chance to use it. Please, Lord, let the great talents you have given to your creatures not fall into the hands of the powers and principalities for whom death is the means as well as the goal. Let us see that the resources hidden in your Earth are for feeding each other, healing each other, offering shelter to each other, making this world a place where men, women, and children of all races and nations can live together in peace. Give us new prophets who can speak openly, directly, convincingly, and lovingly to kings, presidents, senators, church leaders, and all men and women of good will, prophets who can make us age peace instead of war. Lord, make haste to help us.
Do not come too late!

-Henri Josef Machiel Nouwen, Dutch-born American priest and psychologist

Deliver us, Lord, from triumphalism in all its forms. Whenever we encounter anyone of a different faith, or of no faith, help us to tread warily and reverently, for you have been there before us and your living Spirit is in every heart.

Lord, deliver us from searching for our ultimate security in any created thing, in any theory, system, or organization, sacred or secular. Show yourself to us, our light, our refuge, our salvation, so that we may recognize you in all things and worship you always in spirit and in truth.

Gerard W. Hughes, Jesuit priest

Aren't you going too far, Lord...with your respect for human freedom?
Your love extends to all creatures,
But you reserve your special love Then how can you bear to see these millions
of your sons and daughters living in subhuman conditions,
owing to the selfishness and ambition of unjust and oppressive minorities?
By now you must have realized that your cataclysms - floods and droughts,
volcanic eruptions, typhoons, earthquakes -
affect the little ones most of all,
whose life is already subhuman.
Isn't it bad enough for them to be crusted by diseases of human weakness?
How are we to explain what comes from you?
Is it sufficient to say that you have given us brains and teach us how to overcome disasters?

Helder Pessoa Camara, Brazilian Archbishop

Almighty and eternal God, who has entrusted the minds of men with the science and skill which can greatly bless or wholly destroy; Grant them also a new stature of spirit to match thy trust; that they may use their many inventions to they glory and the benefit of mankind; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

(1946, anonymous)