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On Feb. 24, 2022, Russia launched a military invasion of Ukraine. The stories and images have flooded the headlines of our news streams. I was scheduled to lead my church’s congregational prayer the following Sunday. I was asked to give an extended prayer for Ukraine. Here is a slightly edited version of that portion of my prayer in the Feb. 27, 2022, worship service at Fellowship CRC in Toronto. I hope it may lend words to your prayers. God bless.
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus and Holy Spirit,
We humbly bow before you with heavy hearts weighed down with sadness, anxiety, and even fear. We see, hear, and read of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Some of us might have horrifying memories of war, while for others this might be a new terrifying experience. But that is nothing compared to what the people of Ukraine may be living through at this time.
There are already too many unnecessary deaths. Already too many families are torn apart. Already too many have been turned into refugees, fleeing for safety. Cover them with your love, O Lord. Provide for those who seek to help them. Psalm 46 says you, O God, are our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, God, give refuge, give strength, give help, be ever-present with all those in trouble.
Lord, we sing (the hymn He Knows My Name) that you, our Maker and our Father, know our names, you know our every thought, you see each tear that falls and hears us when we call. So Lord, you know the names of every Ukrainian, you know their every thought, you see each of their tears, and you hear them when they call. God, you are compassionate. Have compassion and mercy on all the innocent people caught in this war—in any war, not just in Ukraine, but everywhere where there is senseless conflict and fighting and wars and rumors of war. Lord, forgive us humans for our bloodlust for violence. Protect the helpless, protect the children. Please, Lord, protect the children. Help all who are traumatized.
God, you are the God of justice. We pray that you may bring justice to evildoers. Restrain evil, O Lord. Do not let it run rampant; do not let violent men boast of their victories without consequences. Wouldn’t that be a mockery of you, O Lord? How long will you let unjust, power-hungry warmongers continue to hurt people, to do damage and harm? Transform their hearts, we pray, turn their swords into plowshares, turn their hearts of stone into hearts of flesh; may they turn from war to love, from violence to mercy, from power to justice.
We pray for wisdom for the world leaders to end this conflict—and for all conflicts. We pray, Lord, that violence may not escalate, and we do not end up with a vicious cycle of violence begetting more violence. We do not want more war, God, but we want an end to war. We want peace. God, you are the God of peace, of shalom. Grant peace, O Lord, to Ukraine and peace to all places and peoples mired in war and turmoil. Give us, your people, your Christ-followers all over the world, wisdom, courage, strength, and creativity to be peacemakers after your own heart. Blessed are the peacemakers. That’s what you said, Lord. Therefore, equip us, encourage us, and empower us to be your peacemakers. Help us to preach peace, to pray for peace, to pursue peace, to witness to peace, to foster peace in our lives, in all our spheres of influence, and even to speak for peace in the halls of power.
Lord, we pray, therefore, for Christians in both Ukraine and Russia. May their bonds in Christ be stronger than their bonds to their nations. May they be your ambassadors and agents of peace and love, even in the midst of war among their countries. We pray for Christians everywhere in the midst of conflict: may they be true witnesses to your gospel. We remember those who are persecuted. Provide for them and keep them. Empower them to be faithful peacemakers so that the world may see your glory through them.
Bless our peacemaking efforts, Lord. Even if they are small, like a mustard seed, may you bless our efforts and make them grow and bear fruit that will bless others, especially those who need them. May we be ambassadors of your reconciliation, calling people to be reconciled to you but also to be reconciled with each other, through our Lord Jesus Christ.
God of refuge and strength, God who is an ever-present help in trouble, who sees each tear that falls, who hears us when we cry—hear our prayers, we pray, as we pray all of these in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.