Category: Prayers for Peace (P4P)

Violence and chaos in the Middle East have left many around the world hopeless and feeling helpless. As followers of Jesus, we refuse to be sidetracked by the temptation to despair.

Prayers for Peace (P4P) provides a way for Christians of diverse political and theological backgrounds to stand up for peace and unite in supplication to God with a special focus on prayers for the Holy Land. Prayers for Peace provides Jesus’ followers with the common language of prayer around which to mobilize their energy and passion for the land that gave birth to our faith. To combat the prevailing images of discord, Prayers for Peace will highlight peace-building organizations that we may pray for them as they live out the reconciliation offered in the Prophets and Jesus’ message of peace.

Register for the weekly time of prayer here.

Prayers4Peace: “Redefining Support: A New Perspective for Western Christians on the Crisis in Gaza” in Response to  The Evil Ideas Behind October 7

“Redefining Support: A New Perspective for Western Christians on the Crisis in Gaza” in Response to  The Evil Ideas Behind October 7

By: Beth Seversen, PhD, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) Ambassador Warren Clark Fellow

Introduction: Response to Mike Cosper’s Christianity Today Article

Beth Seversen, Ambassador Warren Clark Fellow for Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) writes for Prayers4Peace in response to Mike Cosper’s article that appeared in Christianity Today on February 19, 2024, titled: “The Evil Ideas Behind October 7.” Cosper traces the ideologies behind the October 7th attack by Hamas, which resulted in the deaths of 1200 Israeli citizens and the abduction of some 253 hostages. He links Hamas’ horrific actions to historical ideologies like those of the Nazis, Stalin, and Mao, suggesting that Hamas’ antisemitic beliefs dehumanize Israelis and justify violence as “redemptive.” 

Cosper equates Hamas’ ideology with Palestinian nationalism and leftist anticolonialism, labeling them as evil for advocating violence against Jews. He also claims that these evil ideologies influence Palestinian evangelicals, citing examples from the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem and its pastor, Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac. 

Several evangelicals, including Ben Norquist then Ambassador Warren Clark Fellow (AWCF) at CMEP in his March 18, 2024 Religious News Service op-ed Jesus’ comfort is for all who suffer: A response to Mike Cosper and Christianity Today, have refuted Cosper’s claims. Beth Seversen argues that Cosper mislabels Palestinian evangelicals as antisemitic and misunderstands their indigenous theology and contextualized biblical interpretation. She emphasizes that their symbols and metaphors are expressions of empathy and solidarity, reflecting the Gospel’s message of God’s presence in suffering and his promise to redeem and set all things right. 

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Prayers4Peace: From the Student Encampments

From the Student Encampments

By: A recent graduate in the DC area (who chose to remain anonymous)

Sitting in the grass amid quickly erected tents at my alma mater’s student protest encampment, I am reminded of Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” The students at the encampment have made the decision that they are willing to sacrifice something for peace — not for themselves, but for people thousands of miles away, whom they will likely never meet.  Those who show up to the rallies, who commit to bringing water, food, and sanitary products, who stay overnight in tents, and who serve as police liaisons and marshalls to ensure things run safely have come to terms with the fact that their advocacy comes with a cost

For students across the country, there are real, life-altering consequences at stake, aside from the time and energy sacrificed during the final weeks of class and now final exams. Academic suspension and expulsion by universities, arrest by police, and doxing by pro-war partisans are all very real possibilities for any person, especially any student, who takes part in the protests. 

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Prayers4Peace: Calling for Ceasefire

Calling for Ceasefire

By: Jordan Denari Duffner, Member of CMEP’s Catholic Advisory Council; Originally published November 3, 2023.

On Thursday, Nov. 2, I joined dozens of Catholic leaders and peacemakers for a demonstration outside the White House in Washington, DC, to call on President Biden to support a ceasefire in Israel-Palestine, as well as other measures to foster a just peace. I spoke in my capacity as a member of the Catholic Advisory Council of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), which is tasked with helping inform U.S. Catholics about the history and present realities of the Holy Land, and to mobilize our Church to advocate for just policies consonant with our faith. Below are the remarks I delivered, and the video can be found here.

In the coming days and weeks, I will be writing and sharing more about Israel-Palestine here on ‘Digging Our Well.’ If you aren’t already a subscriber, you can sign up for free. I hope you too will share your thoughts, reflections, and prayers in the comment section below.

A girl looks on as she stands outside a building that was hit by Israeli bombardment in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.
Photo by Mohammed Abed/AFP.

Some members of the CMEP Catholic Advisory Council outside the White House. Left to right: Michele Dunn of Franciscan Action Network; Julie Schumacher Cohen of Scranton University; Susanna Nchubiri of the Maryknoll Sisters; Kyle Cristofalo of CMEP; Susan Gunn of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns; and me.

Good afternoon. My name is Jordan Denari Duffner, and I’m a member of the Catholic Advisory Council of Churches for Middle East Peace.

Most of us here today are Catholics and other Christians, but we join our voices with Jews and Muslims, and those of other faiths and of no faith, who are calling for an immediate end to violence in Israel-Palestine and for a just peace for all in the land that we call Holy.

For too long, many of us Christians—myself included—have been too quiet, or even silent, on the situation of injustice in Israel-Palestine. Some of us might misperceive events in the Holy Land as a Jewish-Muslim conflict, one that we Christians can simply observe and grieve from a distance.

But this is a mistake. When we take this attitude, we forget that our fellow Christians, most of whom are Palestinian, suffer too. When we take this attitude, we ignore the important interfaith and cross-religious coalitions that are pushing for justice. And, most tragically, when we take this attitude, we abandon the core tenets of our faith, which compel us to advocate on behalf of the dignity and rights of all in Israel-Palestine, regardless of their religion, ethnicity, or nationality.

We cannot be silent. This is why we are calling for a ceasefire, for the Israeli military to stop bombing Gaza and to lift the siege, to stop attacking Palestinians in the West Bank and elsewhere; for Hamas to release all hostages and stop its rocket fire; for humanitarian aid and basic services to be distributed urgently and widely in Gaza; and for the international community to push, in the long run, for a solution that recognizes the full and equal rights of Palestinians and Israelis in the Holy Land.

As Christians, we also recommit ourselves to opposing Antisemitism and Islamophobia in all its forms. We know that we have often failed in this regard, both historically and today. Some in our Christian communities, as well as others, have wrongly labeled all Palestinians and Muslims as terrorists, and have wrongly associated all Jews and Israelis with the actions of the Israeli government. Ideas like these are wrong. They are the basis for more violence and they go against the best and the most central tenets of our three Abrahamic faiths.

Tragically, amid the violence abroad, we are seeing more violence here at home. To give but one example, in Chicago, a Catholic man, a landlord, violently murdered his tenant, a six-year-old child, Wadea al-Fayoume, because he was Palestinian and Muslim. We mourn for this sweet boy and his family, along with the thousands of children, woman, and men, who have been killed, brutalized, and traumatized, Not just in recent weeks, but also in the past many decades in the Holy Land.

The situation in Israel-Palestine often leaves me feeling heartbroken and hopeless—a feeling I know is shared by many others. But I am heartened by the solidarity and prophetic witness from so many Muslims, Jews, Christians and others who are standing for what’s right, often at great cost.

I hope President Biden, our fellow Catholics and other Christians, and many more of our elected officials, will hear our call and push for a ceasefire immediately.

Now, we turn to You, our God: 

God of Agape, of Love: Convert our hearts. 

Al-Rahman, God of Compassion: Embrace those who have been killed. 

El-Roi: God Who Sees Us: Help us see clearly, and to see Your face in each person. 

Bless our fractured human family, and have mercy on us. Amen. 

Our makeshift altar adorned with flowers, a textile from the south Hebron hills, crosses, and holy artwork, including Kelly Latimore’s icon of the child Jesus. (That icon, the painting of the Holy Family, and the image of the dove of peace were things I contributed from my home art collection.)

For more on the Pray-In:

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Prayers4Peace: Armenia at War, Pt. I

Today, April 24th, is Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, where we stand alongside the Armenian diaspora in remembering the 1915 Armenian Genocide.
We invite you to learn more about Armenia, both past and present, through this piece:

Armenia at War, Pt. I

By: Beth Seversen, Ambassador Warren Clark Fellow, CMEP

Late to the game,  I’ll never forget my introduction to the Armenian-Azerbaijani War. I was living in Eastern Europe for a semester teaching at an international university in the context of Putin’s War with Ukraine. Students sat side by side in classrooms representing 57 countries including Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, and Iran. The Armenian students in the communications course I was teaching corrected me when I characterized the Armenian-Azerbaijani War as a “border skirmish.” Giving a commemorative speech, a student introduced her childhood friend who paid the ultimate sacrifice in September of 2022 serving on the frontline, countering Azeri military strikes while fighting for freedom and democracy for ethnic Armenians in the sovereign territory of Armenia. 

Perhaps similarly you are newer to the geopolitical arena of the century-old conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. For this reason, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) created a three-part mini-series entitled “Armenia at War” which: introduces the historical landscape of Armenia and the significance of the Armenian Apostolic Church for Christianity; traces the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the geopolitical actors that influence them; compares the 1915 Genocide of Armenian Christians with the 2023 “soft” physical and cultural genocide; and offers prayers for the 120,000 ethnic Armenians that became displaced and likely disposed. I invite you to delve into part one of the series with me in this brief synopsis, but I also invite you to watch the webinar and share it with your community for discussion.

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Prayers4Peace: We Choose Abundant Life

We Choose Abundant Life: Christians in the Middle East: Towards Renewed Theological, Social, and Political Choices

By: Beth Seversen, Ambassador Warren Clark Fellow, CMEP

In 2021, the treatise “We Choose Abundant Life” emerged as a beacon of hope for the Middle East, advocating for shalom, equitable relationships, and collective prosperity. This document, a collaborative effort of ecumenical experts in theology, human, and geopolitical sciences, seeks to address the region’s critical challenges, including diminishing Christian populations, gender inequality, and social disparities. “We Choose Abundant Life” offers a framework for discerning divine guidance for the Church and fostering a just peace.

The treatise encourages reflective engagement, urging Christians to contemplate their role in collaborating with the Divine to nurture peace and well-being in the Middle East. Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) provides chapter summaries and structured prayer prompts to guide, aiming to inspire action toward achieving justice and the flourishing of all communities under Christ’s reign. “We Choose Abundant Life” is not just a document; it’s an invitation to engage in meaningful dialogue and prayer, aspiring for a transformative impact on the region’s socio-political landscape and its peoples’ lives. 

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Prayers4Peace: Easter Sunday of Lent 2024

The Path of Building Just Peace, Easter Sunday of Lent 2024
Written by Rev. Susan Hayward

Reading: Hebrews 12: 1-2

The path of building just peace, much like the path of faith, is not for the faint of heart. We do not choose to trod it because it’s an eternal conga line of delights. More often than not, our glimpses of heaven along the peacebuilding path are fleeting in the face of daunting, heavy assaults on human dignity wrought by the world’s systems, human cruelty, or indifference. But we walk this path because we know there is no other way to be that can bring true peace. We walk it because Jesus, Love embodied, did so himself, straight into Jerusalem – the beating heart of our world. And in so doing, he showed us that while our journey on this path will not keep us from heartbreak, its ultimate end is always, always joy – the impossibly beautiful joy that comes from seeing Love triumph over everything. Have faith, follow Jesus, and keep walking, my beloved. You do not do so alone. 

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Prayers4Peace: Holy Saturday of Lent 2024

A Lesson on Perseverance, Holy Saturday of Lent 2024
Written by Rev. David Hindman

Reading: Hebrews 12: 1-2

In 2009, I took a group of college students to Israel-Palestine for an experience of pilgrimage, education, and mission. For two days we planted olive trees at the Tent of Nations, a farm outside of Bethlehem which is owned by the Nassar family. This Palestinian Christian family lives by the motto, “We Refuse to Be Enemies,” even as they are surrounded by illegal Israeli settlements and are frequently harassed by their neighbors. On the farm, the students also learned about the decades-long struggle of the family’s continued perseverance in its efforts to register their land and garner legal recognition of their family’s ownership.

One day, as they struggled to move rocks and find a space to plant one particular olive tree, I heard a student confess, “These stones are beasting me!” – by which they meant the stones were getting the best of them and wearing them down. And yet the student kept digging, and struggling, and trying, because they were determined to do everything they could to ensure at least that one small piece of land would be productive and life-giving. They also realized, compared to the daily struggles and hassles the Nassar family faced with the Israeli military or settlers, tilling that bit of rocky soil was mere child’s play. 

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Prayers4Peace: Good Friday of Lent 2024

A Cloud of Witnesses, Good Friday of Lent 2024
Written by Rev. Sari Ateek

Reading: Hebrews 12: 1-2

“Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses… let us run with perseverance”  
Hebrews 12:1

Witnesses. This word found in our devotional text from Hebrews is a translation from the Greek “martyrion”– from which we get the word “martyr.” Rarely do we consider the connection between bearing witness and this level of sacrifice, and yet hidden behind the veil of translation is a most profound concept in our Holy Scriptures.  

Seeking to validate the struggle and cost of faith, the author of Hebrews tells us that we are not alone in this struggle but that we are, in fact, surrounded by what she calls a “great cloud of witnesses” – referring to our spiritual ancestors who responded – each in their own unique way – to the courageous call of faith in their own time and context. The point of her message is that we are not alone because others (past, present, and future) are standing alongside us, bearing witness to the genuineness of the human struggle of faith and life.

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Prayers4Peace: Maundy Thursday of Lent 2024

How do children look to a better future when it seems there is no future?
Maundy Thursday of Lent 2024
Written by Sir Jeffrey Abood, KGCHS (Knight Grand Cross of the Holy Sepulchre)

Reading: Hebrews 12: 1-2

Hebrews 12:2 – “…looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Photo – Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem

How do children look to a better future when it seems there is no future?

Palestinians have a word, “sumud,” meaning steadfast perseverance. It is a word rooted in both the Muslim and Christian faith traditions. This steadfastness unveils an ability for those caught in war to look beyond the here and now and not give up; in looking toward a better future, it provides hope during dark times. As the Scripture says: they persevere for the sake of the joy set before them. 

It may seem odd that in the middle of trying to survive a genocide, the children at Holy Family Parish in Gaza City have used their precious time to go through a lengthy confirmation process, complete their classes, and receive their First Communion. 

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Prayers4Peace: Palm Sunday of Lent 2024

Our Balcony People, Palm Sunday of Lent 2024
Written by Rev. Ronald Shive

Reading: Hebrews 12: 1-2

In 2008, I was elected to be a commissioner to the 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in San Jose, California. I was assigned to the International Relations Committee, where one of our major tasks was to deal with several overtures concerning the Israel-Palestine conflict. There were some on the committee who felt that it was too controversial and that the issues were too complex for us to approve any positions calling for justice and peace. There were others who were convinced we needed to pass some much-needed statements. I returned to my hotel room very late one night after a full day of committee discussions, and as I processed the events of the day, I heard someone from my “great cloud of witnesses” whispering in my ear.

Carlyle Marney was a Baptist minister who has been described as “a preacher that shook the foundation of the powers that be… an intellect, author, and country boy from East Tennessee.” He was the Pastor of the Myers Park Baptist Church in Charlotte from 1958 -1967. He referred to the people in his own great cloud of witnesses “the balcony people.” Our balcony people are those who have left us to find a new home in the presence of God, but who lean over Heaven’s balcony to cheer us on as we continue to run the race of life.

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