A pastoral prayer and prayer of confession for the Israel-Palestine war Skip to content

A pastoral prayer and prayer of confession for the Israel-Palestine war

A heartfelt prayer for peace and of confession.

3 min read
Photo by Mike Labrum / Unsplash

The church I attend is a liturgical church, which means each service contains a time of confession. In yesterday’s service, our associate pastor, Rev. Dr. Lauren Jones Mayfield, used this time to address the situation in the Middle East.

I was so moved by her prayer, and by the depth and breadth of it, that I asked her if I could share it, and she said I could.

Before the time of prayer, the Hebrew lesson was the 23rd Psalm, which was read aloud. I am including it here as it provides some context for the prayer.

The 23rd Psalm

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

A Pastoral Prayer and a Prayer of Confession for the Israel-Palestine War

Our world is at war. God’s children are at war. Church, let us pray:

Holy Shepherd, who leads us by paths of cool waters, hear now our plea for mercy. The land that we call holy is riddled with violence, torture, terrorism, and death. It seems we have lost our humanity. We cry out to you in this moment to restore it. For it is in our humanity that we best discover you.

Voices on one side claim abuse. Voices on the other side shout for relief. This violence wounds all of us. It tears us apart at the seams of human connection. The fighting, the waging of missiles, the bombings, the keeping of hostages, the withdrawal of natural resources like food and water, the stripping of dignity, the death of civilians, and the human rights violations bind us in brokenness. It all spurs us toward blaming the other.

Yet, there are no sides to your love. We are so off-track. Bring us back to our human giftedness. Show us how you crafted each one of us in a divine image. Guide us. Empower us to name our fears. For it is in the naming of our griefs that we relocate the mysterious, healing powers of what it means to wonder. And in our wondering, we rediscover our humanity not amidst scarcity but from the deep well of your abundance.

But, oh my, how curiosity does take courage. Grant us courage to bravely pursue one another in search of true understanding marked by deep listening. In this call to Presence, we find ourselves and then one another, which leads us back to your green pastures and the peace of babbling brooks. Such natural peace is not a figment of days gone by, but the promised outcome of real, earnest, holy, peace-making work.

So, teach us to engage this difficult work. Help each one of us listen authentically and breathe intentionally as we seek to come back into our bodies. Center us in you and not in the horrors of war. Draw us back into our sacred, precious, embodied selves held in the community of your love. For it is compassion that awakens restoration, wholeness within us.

God of the incarnation, open our hearts to see how this fighting must grieve you so terribly.
For this betrayal of our humanity, forgive us.
For the ways that we have fueled this war as Americans, forgive us.
For uninspired imaginations that could foster peace, forgive us.

For reaping what we sow – discord, disgrace, disharmony, forgive us.

A period of silence.

God of forgiveness, break down the violent hierarchies of pain and oppression. Combat evil. Lead us away from war and trauma and back to those calm pastures. Transform our hearts, minds, and strength. Preserve dignity. Reunite us as we believe no one is more or less sacred than our neighbor.

We pray for your liberating justice to roll down like mighty rivers and compassion to wash over us like ever-flowing streams. Restore our souls. Lead us along the paths of righteousness. Amen.


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