Prayer at the beginning of War

Although the United States is not yet formally at war with Iran, this may be a difference without a distinction following the U.S. assassination of Iran’s highest ranking general while he was visiting Iraq.

The following prayer, written on the first day of the Iraq War in 2003, has become timely again. I found the original in my files yesterday and have printed a copy to carry with me so I can pray it throughout the day. I invite you to do the same and to share it with others. In whatever ways you are able, embody your prayers with action. God and the world need both.

Prayer at the Beginning of War

Almighty and Loving God of the Whole World,
Our hearts are heavy.
We had hoped for peace but are now in the midst of war.
We pray for soldiers of all nations who also long for peace
But are now called into conflict.

We pray for families whose brothers and sisters,
Fathers and mothers, sons and daughters
Are now in harm’s way.
Give them comfort, courage and your peace
As they await word about their loved ones.

We pray for the people of Iraq.
For the parents and children, for the ordinary citizens
Who want war no more than we
And who did nothing to bring this upon themselves.
Give them courage and safety
As terror drops from the sky upon their cities.

Be with all the people of the Middle East this day
And with people around the world.
Help us to see each other as your own children
No matter by what name we call you
Nor what land we call our home.

God of Wisdom,
Be with the leaders of nations.
Give them your wisdom which is far beyond our own,
Grant courage when theirs fails,
And in your providence, grant us peace
For all your children and for your world.

Barbara A. Anderson
Ash Wednesday
March 19, 2003
The Beginning of the Iraq War

2 thoughts on “Prayer at the beginning of War

  1. Frances Baum Nicholson

    Sometimes poetry is the only way to snapshot emotion, especially about something so frightening. At least I have found it so. Here is the poem I wrote at Christmastime, in 2001. It is disturbing to find it to have been potentially apt only this past month as well.


    Mountains explode in retribution.
    In Bethlehem victims bleed
    in a parking lot where the stable
    may have been, if indeed
    there was a stable.
    Everywhere people bent by conflict,
    swathed in desperation, search
    the skies for an eastern star.

    Yet, though the darkness whistles
    past his ears, a babe is born
    this night, again, insisting
    On care-filled hope, love
    past all measure.
    Trouble is his rough-mangered
    resting place, offering, as always
    (if one listens past the hoarse cry
    of Mars) hosts of ethereals
    in lofty spaces praising
    the blessings of peace

    and against all reason
    Christmas is once more.

  2. Laura Monteros

    I still have a poem tacked on myh bulletin board that Frances Nicholson wrote, in anticipation of the Afghanistan war. It says, in short, that a mother feels differently about war when she looks at her almost-grown son.


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