fasting & praying for Ukraine

Today is March 2. In many traditions, it is Ash Wednesday.

On this first day of lent Christians all around the world will say, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel”, or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

This is a sober reminder of how precious life is, but also how precarious living is for so many persons, and for our planet.

It is a reminder that the good news of God’s Kingdom is a matter of “righteousness and peace and joy” (Romans 14:17).

Today many leaders of Christian communities around the world invite Christians to fast and pray for peace in Ukraine. The public witness of the Christians (indeed persons of all religious traditions) for righteousness, peace, and joy is of great importance.

Please join me in praying and fasting today. A helpful passage to read as you go to prayer is Psalm 46

When faced with a large-scale situation, it can be difficult to know how to pray. Let me suggest a simple model of praying for 3 Ps.

  • The Problem: We ask God to intervene in challenging and difficult circumstances, and for God’s kingdom to break out.
  • People affected: We ask God to comfort those who’ve suddenly found their lives torn apart by grief, fear and trauma, and those acting to help those in need.
  • Peacemakers and politicians: We ask God to give clarity and wisdom to government agencies and peacemakers, blessing and supporting their efforts to bring peace, breakthrough and lasting solutions.

Pray for peace in Ukraine and an end to war.

  • Pray that troops from Russia will withdraw; that attacks on cities and towns will cease; for a de-escalation of the crisis.
  • Invite God’s peace to reign across Ukraine; for miraculous breakthroughs to bring an end to war.
  • Ask for God’s protection for all people; that there will be minimal loss of life.

Pray for the many people whose lives have been impacted by this crisis:

  • For God’s safety, shelter and protection for those who are living in Ukraine, those who are being or are displaced, and for refugees, as they seek safe passage to other nations.
  • Pray for God’s healing for those wounded by attacks, and comfort for those who are mourning the loss of those they love.
  • For capacity and resilience for soldiers and emergency services; those with practical skills who are working on the frontlines of both sides of the crisis.
  • Pray for those living in Russia who have also been plunged into the reality of war; who are now facing uncertainty, financial insecurity and hardship,

Pray for world leaders and those who are striving for peace in Ukraine:

  • Invite God’s breakthrough in talks between Russia and Ukraine; that a peaceful solution will be proposed and accepted.
  • Pray for wisdom and discernment for world leaders as they try to find peaceful and long-term solutions to this crisis
  • Ask for supernatural assistance and breakthrough for diplomats and peacemakers who are working behind the scenes, guiding and working to create solutions.

Prayer of Henri Nouwen

Here is a prayer of Henri Nouwen, to reflect on, to meditate on, to pray, and make it your own this week. See some reflection questions at the bottom of this post.

 

Listen, O Lord, to my prayers.
Listen to my desire to be with you, to dwell in your house, and to let my whole being be filled with your presence.
But none of this is possible without you.
When you are not the one who fills me, I am soon filled with endless thoughts and concerns that divide me and tear me away from you.
Even thoughts about you, good spiritual thoughts, can be little more than distractions when you are not their author.

Every day I see again that only you can teach me to pray, only you can set my heart at rest, only you can let me dwell in your presence.
No book, no idea, no concept or theory will ever bring me close to you unless you yourself are the one who lets these instruments become the way to you.

But Lord, let me at least remain open to your initiative; let me wait patiently and attentively for that hour when you will come and break through all the walls I have erected.

Teach me, O Lord, to pray.

Amen.

~Henri Nouwen

Reflection:

  • Behold — Where are the eyes of your heart drawn into this prayer?
  • Believe — How is your faith strengthened in this prayer?
  • Belong — Who are you recalling as you pray this prayer?
  • Become — What is God inviting you to receive and thereby become as you pray this prayer?

Prayer Earth and Heaven

Here is a prayer from The Valley of Vision, to reflect on, to meditate on, to pray, and make it your own this week. See some reflection questions at the bottom of this post.

O LORD,

I live here as a fish in a vessel of water,
only enough to keep me alive,
but in heaven I shall swim in the ocean.
Here I have a little air in me to keep me breathing,
but there I shall have sweet and fresh gales;
Here I have a beam of sun to lighten my darkness,
a warm ray to keep me from freezing;
yonder I shall live in light and warmth for ever.
My natural desires are corrupt and misguided,
and it is thy mercy to destroy them;
My spiritual longings are of thy planting,
and thou wilt water and increase them;
Quicken my hunger and thirst after
the realm above.
Here I can have the world,
there I shall have thee in Christ;
Here is a life of longing and prayer,
there is assurance without suspicion,
asking without refusal;
Here are gross comforts, more burden
than benefit,
there is joy without sorrow,
comfort without suffering,
love without inconstancy,
rest without weariness.
Give me to know that heaven is all love,
where the eye affects the heart,
and the continual viewing of thy beauty
keeps the soul in continual transports
of delight.
Give me to know that heaven is all peace,
where error, pride, rebellion, passion
raise no head.
Give me to know that heaven is all joy,
the end of believing, fasting, praying,
mourning, humbling, watching,
fearing, repining;
And lead me to it soon.

Reflection:

  • Behold — Where are the eyes of your heart drawn into this prayer?
  • Believe — How is your faith strengthened in this prayer?
  • Belong — Who are you recalling as you pray this prayer?
  • Become — What is God inviting you to receive and thereby become as you pray this prayer?

Prayer O My Saviour

Here is a prayer from The Valley of Vision, to reflect on, to meditate on, to pray, and make it your own this week. See some reflection questions at the bottom of this post.

O MY SAVIOUR,

Help me.
I am so slow to learn,
so prone to forget,
so weak to climb;
I am in the foothills when I should be
on the heights;
I am pained by my graceless heart,
my prayerless days,
my poverty of love,
my sloth in the heavenly race,
my sullied conscience,
my wasted hours,
my unspent opportunities.
I am blind while light shines around me:
take the scales from my eyes,
grind to dust the evil heart of unbelief.
Make it my chiefest joy to study thee,
meditate on thee,
gaze on thee,
sit like Mary at thy feet,
lean like John on thy breast,
appeal like Peter to thy love,
count like Paul all things dung.
Give me increase and progress in grace
so that there may be
more decision in my character,
more vigour in my purposes,
more elevation in my life,
more fervour in my devotion,
more constancy in my zeal.
As I have a position in the world,
keep me from making the world my position;
May I never seek in the creature
what can be found only in the Creator;
Let not faith cease from seeking thee
until it vanishes into sight.
Ride forth in me, thou King of kings
and Lord of lords,
that I may live victoriously,
and in victory attain my end.

Reflection:

  • Behold — Where are the eyes of your heart drawn into this prayer?
  • Believe — How is your faith strengthened in this prayer?
  • Belong — Who are you recalling as you pray this prayer?
  • Become — What is God inviting you to receive and thereby become as you pray this prayer?

Prayer of Augustine (You Over Me)

Here is a prayer of Austine, to reflect on, to meditate on, to pray, and make it your own this week. See some reflection questions at the bottom of this post.

You Over Me

Lord Jesus, let me know myself and know You, and desire nothing save only You.
Let me hate myself and love You.
Let me do everything for the sake of You.
Let me humble myself and exalt You.
Let me think of nothing except You.
Let me die to myself and live in You.
Let me accept whatever happens as from You.
Let me banish self and follow You, and ever desire to follow You.
Let me fly from myself and take refuge in You,
That I may deserve to be defended by You.
Let me fear for myself.
Let me fear You, and let me be among those who are chosen by You.
Let me distrust myself and put my trust in You.
Let me be willing to obey for the sake of You.
Let me cling to nothing save only to You,
And let me be poor because of You.
Look upon me, that I may love You.
Call me that I may see You, and for ever enjoy You. Amen.

~Augustine

Reflection:

  • Behold — Where are the eyes of your heart drawn into this prayer?
  • Believe — How is your faith strengthened in this prayer?
  • Belong — Who are you recalling as you pray this prayer?
  • Become — What is God inviting you to receive and thereby become as you pray this prayer?

Prayer of Keith Green

Here is a prayer of Keith Green, to reflect on, to meditate on, to pray, and make it your own this week. See some reflection questions at the bottom of this post.

Oh Lord, You’re beautiful
Your face is all I see
For when Your eyes are on this child
Your grace abounds to me
Oh Lord, please light the fire
That once burned bright and clean
Replace the lamp of my first love
That burns with holy fear
I want to take Your Word and shine it all around
But first help me just to live it, Lord
And when I’m doing well,
help me to never seek a crown
For my reward is giving glory to You.

~Keith Green

Before dying at the age of 28 in a plane crash in east Texas, Keith Green wrote dozens of hit songs and contemporary hymns. Keith and his wife Melody owned and rented 7 houses in one neighbourhood where he took in people in need, including former prostitutes, drug addicts, bikers, single moms, and homeless people.

Reflection:

  • Behold — Where are the eyes of your heart drawn into this prayer?
  • Believe — How is your faith strengthened in this prayer?
  • Belong — Who are you recalling as you pray this prayer?
  • Become — What is God inviting you to receive and thereby become as you pray this prayer?

Prayer of Henri Nouwen

Here is a prayer of Henri J. M. Nouwen, to reflect on, to meditate on, to pray, and make it your own this week. See some reflection questions at the bottom of this post.

A Prayer of Henri J.M. Nouwen:

Listen, O Lord, to my prayers. Listen to my desire to be with you, to dwell in your house, and to let my whole being be filled with your presence. But none of this is possible without you. When you are not the one who fills me, I am soon filled with endless thoughts and concerns that divide me and tear me away from you. Even thoughts about you, good spiritual thoughts, can be little more than distractions when you are not their author.

O Lord, thinking about you, being fascinated with theological ideas and discussions, being excited about histories of Christian spirituality and stimulated by thoughts and ideas about prayer and meditation, all of this can be as much an expression of greed as the unruly desire for food, possessions, or power.

Every day I see again that only you can teach me to pray, only you can set my heart at rest, only you can let me dwell in your presence. No book, no idea, no concept or theory will ever bring me close to you unless you yourself are the one who lets these instruments become the way to you.

But Lord, let me at least remain open to your initiative; let me wait patiently and attentively for that hour when you will come and break through all the walls I have erected. Teach me, O Lord, to pray. Amen.
— From A Cry for Mercy, by Henri J. M. Nouwen

Reflection:

  • Behold — Where are the eyes of your heart drawn into this prayer?
  • Believe — How is your faith strengthened in this prayer?
  • Belong — Who are you recalling as you pray this prayer?
  • Become — What is God inviting you to receive and thereby become as you pray this prayer?

Prayer of St Patrick

Here is a prayer of Patrick, to reflect on, to meditate on, to pray, and make it your own this week. See some reflection questions at the bottom of this post.

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One, and One in Three.

I bind this day to me forever,
By power of faith, Christ’s Incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on the cross for my salvation.
His bursting from the spiced tomb;
His riding up the heav’nly way;
His coming at the day of doom:
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of cherubim;
The sweet “Well done” in judgment hour;
The service of the seraphim:
Confessors’ faith, apostles’ word,
The patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls;
All good deeds done unto the Lord,
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heav’n,
The glorious sun’s life-giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, his might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need;
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, his shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heav’nly host to be my guard.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One, and One in Three.
Of whom all nature hath creation;
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.
Amen.

— St. Patrick

Reflection:

  • Behold — Where are the eyes of your heart drawn into this prayer?
  • Believe — How is your faith strengthened in this prayer?
  • Belong — Who are you recalling as you pray this prayer?
  • Become — What is God inviting you to receive and thereby become as you pray this prayer?

Prayer of Charles de Foucauld

Here is a prayer of Charles de Foucauld, to reflect on, to meditate on, to pray, and make it your own this week. See some reflection questions at the bottom of this post.

A Prayer of Charles de Foucauld

Father, I abandon myself into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
And in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my spirit.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart
For I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
To surrender myself into your hands, without reserve
And with boundless confidence,
For you are my Father.

— Charles de Foucauld

Reflection:

  • Behold — Where are the eyes of your heart drawn into this prayer?
  • Believe — How is your faith strengthened in this prayer?
  • Belong — Who are you recalling as you pray this prayer?
  • Become — What is God inviting you to receive and thereby become as you pray this prayer?

prayer of John Wesley

Here is a prayer of John Wesley, to reflect on, to meditate on, to pray, and make it your own this week. See some reflection questions at the bottom of this post.

A Covenant Prayer

I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, place me with whom you will.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be put to work for you or set aside for you,
Praised for you or criticized for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and fully surrender all things to your glory and service.
And now, O wonderful and holy God,
Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer,
you are mine, and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it also be made in heaven.  Amen.

— John Wesley

Reflection:

  • Behold — Where are the eyes of your heart drawn into this prayer?
    Believe — How is your faith strengthened in this prayer?
    Belong — Who are you recalling as you pray this prayer?
    Become — What is God inviting you to receive and thereby become as you pray this prayer?