Prayers for Ukraine
over the last week or so we’ve all watched with a mixture of horror, admiration, shock, and concern as Russian forces have invaded Ukraine. We’ve read in the news of invading forces being rather unprepared, running out of fuel, and food, and in some cases being arrested by armed civilians. I was challenged when I read one story of a young Russian soldier knocking on a farmhouse asking for food; I wonder how we’d react to a hungry young man being both in need and a representative of the invading power. We’ve seen the Ukrainian president refuse to flee his country quipping with the Americans he didn’t need a lift but arms and have seen him, through the force of his rhetoric, bravery and social media skills cajole Western leaders to impose ever heavier sanctions on Russia. We’ve seen pictures of children in bomb shelters and of thousands of women and children flee to neighbouring countries in the midst of a bitterly cold winter.
At times like this there is little we can do – though donating to the Red Cross is always a good thing to do – and we’re unsure of how to pray. I thought I’d highlight three prayers for you, the first from the Joint Public Issues Team of the URC, Methodist Church, Baptist Union, and Church of Scotland, the second from the Rev’d Elizabeth Gray King, pastor in the North Western Synod and the third from me. Please use them as you feel best.
Prayer for Ukraine
God of all,
with alarm and concern we bring before you
the military intervention in Ukraine.
In a world you made for peace and flourishing,
we lament the use of armed force.
We mourn every casualty of this conflict,
every precious life extinguished by war.
We pray comfort for those who grieve
and those who are fearful.
Hear our longing that leaders and nations
will honour the worth of all people
by having the courage
to resolve conflict through dialogue.
May all our human failings be transformed
by your wonderful grace and goodness.
We ask this in the name of Christ,
the author of peace and sustainer of Creation.
Prayer for Hope
God of all time,
God of this time,
these times are difficult, and we bring them to you.
There have been other times like this when countries have invaded others.
You show us countries seized a village or settlement at a time and countries facing full invasion.
You reveal, when we dare to look, how national boundaries have changed like waves on the sand.
We feel so powerless; it all is so human and so tragic.
We bring it all to you in our confusion and worry.
Remind us, as ever, that worry is not what we must carry.
Remind us that worry makes us smaller, makes our powerlessness real.
Fill the place that worry has taken in our hearts and replace it with hope.
Give us courage to read the news as we can, to listen, to watch, to understand.
As we face the reality of these times, we pray for your hope to carry and fill us.
Let hope be the insight which we gift to each other.
Fill us with your knowledge that hope is as real an act as giving our money and our welcome.
You will bring peace, as ever you do.
Give us courage to gift your hope to that process.
In the name of your incarnated Christ and in the power and presence of Holy Spirit,
Could You Smite Him Lord?
I really want to ask you smite Mr Putin;
it hasn’t got to be a big smite,
just enough to remove him from power,
topple him from his throne,
remove his advisors,
disable his armed forces,
and make him see sense.
Is that a big ask Lord?
After all you seem to have smote a lot in the Bible;
powerful kings brushed away,
invading generals confounded by your power,
or had their heads chopped off by some pretty feisty women,
so that your people would be free.
Even your mother sung of your power to remove tyrants from their thrones
and she faced the might of Rome.
The problem with asking you for some smiting,
is that I see myself as a trendy leftie,
what they call a snowflake,
I don’t really believe in violence,
I think anger can be used more productively,
I know you call us to solve our problems and not depend on you to sort out our messes,
but just this once Lord?
A bit of a smite?
A localised precision smite?
In the meantime, Lord,
please look after Mr Zelenskiy,
inspire him to continue to use his skills to defend his people;
protect him as you protected his ancestors of old.
Give hope to the people of Ukraine,
hope in your providence,
hope that the world won’t ignore their plight,
hope that the invaders will go,
and if, after that, you’ve got time for a smite….
with every good wish
The Rev’d Andy Braunston
Minister for Digital Worship