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: Second Sunday of Lent 2024

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 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.” Hebrews 12: 1-2 (ESV)

Following Jesus, Together, Second Sunday of Lent 2024
Written by Rev. Marian Boyle Rohloff

Reading: Hebrews 12: 1-2

I remember reading history books about the arms races of the World Wars and Cold War era. No doubt, such races are still on the agendas of nations across the globe. A great investment of time, money, and other resources goes into such material races. Unfortunately, these races make for an anxious and tenuous peace at best and encourage the use of terrible violence at worst. What if instead, our time, resources, and energy could be directed toward a life-giving peace? 

The text from Hebrews 12:1-2 invites us to consider a different race and make a different investment. In faith, we are asked to run a race with perseverance, looking to Jesus. We look to one who refused to act in violence and, in doing so, showed us the type of race we are to run. By abiding by this, we are to run for the sake of the common good, considering the human cost that any war inflicts. We are to run away from an “us against them” mentality, instead turning our hearts to the needs of all people impacted by violence. We are to run towards justice and work to undo oppressions that break down our communities.    

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Prayers4Peace: First Sunday of Lent 2024

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 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.” Hebrews 12: 1-2 (ESV)

A Lenten Invitation, First Sunday of Lent 2024
Written by Rev. Amy Winkle

Reading: Hebrews 12: 1-2

The season of Lent conjures up many emotions in us. In Lent, we are called to name and acknowledge our sin, our pain, and the brokenness of our world. In so doing, we also acknowledge our need for a Savior. Recent years brought on a pandemic and social unrest, difficult personal moments for many, and wars playing out across the world; in all of this, our need for a Savior is all the more evident. However, the coming of Lent can feel like a piling on in a time that already feels heavy. It is easy to groan a bit on the inside and think unenthusiastically, “Oh good, Lent is here again.”

Yet, here it is again. The gift of Lent comes to us once more. Not as a burden, but as a gift. Still, how can we accept this gift when we feel like we are surrounded by pain – both inside of us and in our world – and when we witness the unimaginable pain and brokenness that reveals itself in war in the Middle East and around the world? How do we choose to participate, rather than saying, “it’s too much to engage”?

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Prayers4Peace: Ash Wednesday of Lent 2024

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 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.” Hebrews 12: 1-2 (ESV)

“…let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us…”, Ash Wednesday of Lent 2024
Written by Rev. Pat Swanson

Reading: Hebrews 12: 1-2

One of my professors in seminary taught us to read Scripture closely and ask good questions. In reading this passage from Hebrews, this question continued to surface for me:

What’s the point of a race anyway? 

It’s to successfully traverse the distance between two places. The goal is to close the distance. 

What a perfect metaphor! Is that not what God has done for us in becoming human? Choosing to share in our life, suffering, and even death? God closed the ultimate distance. Jesus is proof. Jesus becomes our example to run with the same love and with the same perseverance. 

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Prayers4Peace: War on Gaza, Again.

War on Gaza, Again.

By: Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah, Written October 17th, 2023. While written 4 months ago, Patriarch Emeritus Sabbah’s words are still pertinent today as they were in October. We invite you to read this powerful piece.

“Now, you kings, come to your senses, you earthly rulers, learn your lesson!” (Ps 2: 10).

The war in Gaza has been going on for ten days. Today it is no longer a war, but rather a crime, a decision to kill and transfer all the people of Gaza, two million people. The war must stop. The words of the psalm today address Israel and the friends of Israel, Hamas and the friends of Hamas, as well as the entire Palestinian people: “Now, you kings, come to your senses, you earthly rulers, learn your lesson!” (Ps 2: 10).

The war in Gaza might be brought to a stop, but the conflict will not end. As has happened in previous wars on Gaza. This is not what is required. A ceasefire could be reached, but it is not a solution. Vengeance is not the solution, and decimating Gaza is not the solution. There is no peace in these solutions, neither for Israel nor for Palestine, neither for the region nor for the world. Indeed, our question has become a world question.

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Prayers4Peace: Lament is finally not an expression of despair but of faith.

Lament is finally not an expression of despair but of faith.

By: John Paarlberg, Regional Coordinator with Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP).

We gathered in front of our Congressman’s district office in preparation for a “die-in.” After a few opening remarks we lay down in the street, covered ourselves with white sheets and remained silent, while for more than an hour the names and ages of many of those killed in the recent violence were read aloud: “Ahmed Hussein Ahmed Al-Astal, age 12; Joan Yahya Youssef Al-Astal, age 4; Maha Ramez Amin Hassouna, age 18; Safa Suleiman Salman Al-Najjar, one year old…..”

The mood was solemn. Several times those reading the names had to pause to compose themselves. Many of us shed tears. This was a symbolic action, a kind of bodily prayer, a corporeal lament.

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Prayers4Peace: Unprecedented Humanitarian Catastrophe

Unprecedented Humanitarian Catastrophe

By: Omar Shaban, Written October 15th, 2023 in Gaza City; Revised for publication January 8th, 2024.

Today is the 93rd day of the war on Gaza, The Gaza Strip is experiencing an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe, the likes of which had not been seen since 1967. 25,000 have lost their lives, and this is solely those who arrived at the hospitals. This is what arrived at the hospitals. There are thousands of people who were buried under the rubble and no one could reach them. In addition to more than 60,000 injuries, most of these are in critical situations, which means they will lose their lives due to the no heath treatment as most of the health facilities were destroyed.

The unprecedented destruction of infrastructure has made life a living hell open to everyone, it is the harshest on women, children, and the disabled. There were 8,000 wounded in hospitals within the first week, close to the number of wounded during the 51-day war in 2014. This exceeds the capacity of the most advanced health systems in the world, let alone a fragile health system that has been suffering for years from a shortage of medicines and equipment. Medical teams are no longer able to work. The army orders for 1.1 million residents of the Gaza Strip to evacuate their homes and flee to the southern regions, while at the same time bombing the cars carrying them, contradicting humanity. 

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Prayers4Peace: I was protesting for sure. Was I also praying? I hope so

I was protesting for sure. Was I also praying? I hope so

By: Rev. Kathy Donley

It was late on an overcast November afternoon. I was lying on my back on Dove Street. The sheet over my face cut off my sense of sight, but I was very aware of the cold asphalt underneath me, the presence of a crowd of people, some of whom were milling around near my head, and the sounds of motors and sirens on nearby streets.

Her voice amplified by a microphone, a woman slowly recited the names and ages of Palestinian children who have died in the current war between Israel and Hamas. The children’s ages began at one year old. Names and ages were read for 12 minutes, maybe longer. “One-year-old, one-year-old, one-year-old, three-years-old, three-years-old.” She kept going. I could hear open weeping from two people close by. Anguish. Personal grief. Heartbreak. The woman kept speaking into the microphone. When she got to the names of the fourteen-year-olds, her voice began to quaver. She was also weeping. She kept reading through the sixteen-year-olds.

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Prayers4Peace: Christmas Day, Advent 2023

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In Everlasting Light, Justice Shines, Sunday Devotional for Advent 2023
Written by Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon, CMEP’s Executive Director

Readings:

Isaiah 62:6-12 | Psalm 97 | Titus 3:4-7 | Luke 2:(1-7), 8-20

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:8-15)

The hope of Christmas morning is the Good News that light prevails in darkness. Today, we celebrate the nativity story and the birth of a young child in Bethlehem named Immanuel, reminding us that “God is with us.” In the world’s darkness, the Christ child brought us everlasting light that overcomes the darkness. 

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Prayers4Peace: Fourth Sunday of Advent 2023, Christmas Eve

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In Preparation for the Arrival, Sunday Devotional for Advent 2023
Written by Katheryn Hamm, who traveled with CMEP to the Holy Land in Spring 2023, and Adysen Moylan, Trips Coordinator

Readings:

Isaiah 9:2-7 | Psalm 96 | Titus 2:11-14 | Luke 2:1-14, (15-20)

Simon Sinek said: “Life is beautiful not because of the things we see or do. Life is beautiful because of the people we meet.” In traveling to the Holy Land this past spring, I was in constant amazement at the diverse landscapes, the historical significance of the sites, and the opportunity to experience the places where Jesus walked and taught. However, our tour guide, Nabil, and our bus driver, Faisel made the trip beautiful and memorable. These two men had never met or worked with each other before, yet there was an immediate sense of respect, cooperation, calmness, and devotion between them. Our group contained about fifteen people, and both men formed deep and independent connections with each of us. The smallness of our group allowed them to give us a heads-up when they thought upcoming sights would interest a particular person or to know when someone was overwhelmed with information and in need of a break. Their gentleness and loving demeanor extended to our group and to everyone they met. Despite their previous, deeply troubling experiences with the Israeli government and military, both men continually chose to love, show kindness, and practice unconditional grace, even to those who have done them wrong. 

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Prayers4Peace: Saturday Meditation for Advent 2023

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Praying the Psalms, Saturday Meditation for Advent 2023
Written by Lauren Draper, Middle East Fellow

Readings:

Malachi 3: 1-4, 23-24 | Psalm 25 | Luke 1: 57-66

Praying the Psalms is a longstanding Christian tradition. It is a discipline of centering prayer back to scripture, and it is mirrored on Christ’s own actions throughout the Gospels. In this practice, read through the psalm, line by line, making the words of the psalm your own. If it is helpful to you, think of the psalm like a Christmas tree, and hang your own personal worries, doubts, praises, or joys onto its branches. 

Psalm 25

In you, LORD my God, I put my trust.

I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.

No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause.

Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths.

Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.

Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, LORD, are good.

Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.

He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.

All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.

For the sake of your name, LORD, forgive my iniquity, though it is great.

Who, then, are those who fear the LORD? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.

They will spend their days in prosperity, and their descendants will inherit the land.

The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.

My eyes are ever on the LORD, for only he will release my feet from the snare.

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.

Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish.

Look on my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins.

See how numerous are my enemies and how fiercely they hate me!

Guard my life and rescue me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.

May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, LORD, is in you.

Deliver Israel, O God, from all their troubles!


About the Author: Lauren earned her bachelor’s in Arabic and Middle East studies from the University of St Andrews in Scotland. After spending four years in youth ministry and community building in the UK, she moved to Jerusalem. In Israel/Palestine, she continues to utilize this relational skill set through the position of Middle East Fellow, while also elevating the voices of Christian leaders in the region.

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