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. 

Fourteen authors from the Middle East contributed to “We Choose Abundant Life.” Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) collaborates closely with several of them including: Rev. Najla Kassab, President of the World Communion of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC); Rev. Mitri Raheb, President of Dar al-Kalima University in Bethlehem; and Dr. Souraya Bechealany, a professor and researcher at the Faculty of Religious Studies at the University of Saint Joseph in Beirut, Lebanon. A complete list of authors is compiled at the end of the document. This reflective prayer exercise represents one way in which we can listen to and stand in solidarity with Christians from the Middle East. 

The link to the full document is provided for you here. CMEP suggests you read it reflectively and prayerfully, centering on how you and your Christian community may participate in collaborating with God’s Spirit to bring a just peace to the Middle East. 

Write your own prayer prompts . . . 

As you read “We Choose Abundant Life” we encourage you to journal or write out your own “Prayers4Peace” for the needs you identify in the Middle East. 

Or use ours. . .

Summaries of each of the three chapters with five prayer requests per chapter are provided to assist and to guide your thoughtful reflections and prayers. Our hope is that God will use the words and work of this ecumenical collaboration to demonstrate his glory powerfully and to bring about his good purposes for just peace throughout the region, the flourishing of humanity under the benevolent reign of His Son, Christ Jesus, through the prayers of his people and congregations. 

We hope “We Choose Abundant Life” will be a meaningful and educational prayer exercise that draws us all near to our good Father and results in his kingdom pressing even more into the Middle East. Perhaps your informed prayers may lead you into a deep interfaith dialogue with Christians, secular thinkers, and regional and global thinkers who desire to work for a just peace and the common good for all peoples in the Middle East.

Chapter One analyzes the Middle East’s diverse geopolitical landscape, tracing its historical religious, linguistic, ethnic, cultural, and political complexities. It discusses the challenges and opportunities of this diversity in managing public affairs and promoting the common good. The chapter explores colonial legacies, the creation of Israel’s economic changes, and sectarian conflicts like the Sunni-Shiite divide, impacting social dynamics. It evaluates education, the Arab Renaissance, and responses to European modernity, including Christian contributions. It scrutinizes modernity’s failures and societal shifts amidst globalization, and addresses environmental and health crises, urging sustainable behavioral change post-COVID-19.

Chapter One Prayer Prompts: 

  1. Peace and Reconciliation: Pray for peace and healing in the Middle East, asking for unity and forgiveness across diverse communities. 
  2. Wisdom in Diversity: Seek wisdom for leaders to embrace and celebrate the region’s cultural and religious diversity, fostering inclusive societies. 
  3. Protection of the Vulnerable. Request God’s protection for those in the Middle facing hardship, persecution, or displacement, hoping for their relief and support.
  4. Environment Stewardship: Call for a commitment to environmental care, urging actions that combat climate change and promote sustainability. 
  5. Arab Spring and Transformation: Pray for the goals of the Arab Spring to manifest in freedom, democracy, and social justice, empowering youth and women as agents of change.

Chapter Two delves into the Middle East’s post-Arab Spring landscape, noting societal and ecclesiastical challenges and the call for adaptation. It discusses social, cultural, and political shifts, particularly a demand for accountability, notably from the youth. Religious apathy and challenges to authority signal a need for renewed discourse. Advocacy for a secular state to ensure diversity and equality is explored. Christian roles and challenges, such as identity crises and demographic changes, are highlighted, advocating for an inclusive Church model with an emphasis on synodality and youth involvement. Patriarchal structures and gender equality are also addressed. The chapter stresses fostering brotherhood and sisterhood and theological dialogue, promoting contextual theology and educational reform. 

Chapter Two Prayer Prompts: 

  1. Guidance Amid Change: Pray for wisdom for leaders and communities to cultivate societies of freedom, dignity, and peace, championing coexistence.
  2. Empowerment of Youth: Ask for support for the region’s youth in their pursuit of justice, equality, and a hopeful future, leading to impactful change. 
  3. Religious Dialogue and Renewal: Supplicate for a revitalization of interfaith dialogue, promoting understanding and unity among different faiths.
  4. Minorities Protection and Contribution: Intercede for the safeguarding of minorities’ rights and well-being, enabling their meaningful participation in society. 
  5. Inclusive Societies’ Development: Pray for advocacy for civil states that uphold citizenship, equality, and tolerance, countering extremism and fostering unified communities.

Chapter Three, “Choices and Policies”: Underscores the pivotal decisions and policy changes essential for Christians in the Middle East amidst intricate social, political, and theological settings. It advocates for a shift from survival mode to active engagement, rooted in biblical principles and a prophetic stance. The chapter stresses inner church renewal guided by the Holy Spirit, promoting Gospel values, and fostering genuine dialogue. Emphasizing unity and ecumenism, it urges involvement in the Middle East Council of Churches for collaboration and visibility. Additionally, it calls for a contextual theology addressing regional concerns and advocating for gender equality, youth involvement, and social justice. Media plays a crucial role in spreading Christian and human values. Ultimately, these choices embody a commitment to solidarity and service, envisioning a just society reflecting God’s kingdom. 

Chapter Three Prayer Prompts:

  1. Renewed Mindset and Presence: Pray Christian communities in the Middle East transition from merely surviving to actively witnessing, embracing God’s word, to spreading Christ’s love amidst complex challenges.
  2. Unity and Ecumenical Spirit: Seek divine help to unify churches, enhance ecumenical cooperation within the Middle East Council of Churches, and overcome divisions to better reflect God’s love. 
  3. Contextual Theology and Engagement: Ask for guidance to develop a theology that addresses local challenges, empowering churches to contribute to societal justice and the common good. 
  4. Gender Equality and Youth Empowerment: Pray for a shift towards gender equality and youth support, recognizing and utilizing everyone’s gifts for a more inclusive church and society. 
  5. Peaceful Coexistence and Solidarity: Ask for assistance in fostering dialogue and respect among different faiths, strengthening our dedication to justice and human rights, aiming for a peaceful society that aligns with God’s kingdom values.

See also the “Renewed Commitment to Justice, Peace, and Human Dignity” paper written by the We Choose Abundant Life Group on Palestine, February 15, 2024.

About the Author: Beth Seversen, PhD Intercultural Studies, is an Ambassador Warren Clark Fellow with Churches for Middle East Peace. Previously she was Associate Professor of Youth and Christian Ministries Studies at North Park University. Beth is currently researching Palestinian Christian Young Adult Spiritual Formation in the Context of Suffering and Violence.

Any views or opinions contained herein are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP).

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