A Prayer for our Broken World by Grace Yia-Hei Kao

The news of late has been terrible. I read about the following headlines yesterday (July 17, 2014):

1. A Malaysian Airlines passenger plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile in Ukraine, killing all 298 passengers aboard. Both the Ukrainian government and the pro-Russia separatists have denied responsibility and it is still (at the time of this post) too early to assess blame. I feel for the families and loved ones of those lost, the people in the war-torn region of eastern Ukraine, and Malaysian Airlines for the tragic year they have already undergone.

2. Israel begun a ground offensive in Gaza “after 10 days of aerial bombardment failed to stop Palestinian militants from showering Israeli cities with rockets.” I had been following reports of Palestinian and Israeli children being caught up in the cycle of violence and my heart has been heavy with sadness.

3. Closer to home, I’ve been reading about escalating protests by both sides of the immigration debate as throngs of “unaccompanied alien children” (to use official parlance) from Central America who have been apprehended at our southwest border await their fate. As a Christian, parent of young children, and an American, I am totally baffled about what to think about this humanitarian crisis and political-legal quandary.

So it is days like these where I find myself speechless. I have no witty analyses to provide, solutions to propose, or words of comfort to offer. Instead, I find myself turning to the eloquently written prayers of others to see if their words can help me form my own.

Prayers for The New Social AwakeningI found myself thumbing through my copy of Prayers for the New Social Awakening: Inspired by the New Social Creed (2008) edited by Christian Iosso and Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty. The book commemorates the 100th anniversary of the 1908 Social Creed by featuring prayers with social justice themes from well-known Christian leaders.

I was especially moved by eminent process theologian Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki’s prayer entitled “For Peace.”

Beloved God, you have shown us through the crucifixion of Jesus Christ that you feel the pain of the world, the sins of the world, the griefs of the world. You have shown us that our relentless turn to violence is ever more gall, more nails, more spears. And our hearts cry out in sorrowful confession that we crucify you anew through every pain we inflict upon our world.

 Beloved God, you have shown us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ that you receive our ills for the sake of transforming our ills, that you experience our deaths for the sake of renewing our lives, that you feel our many forms of violence for the sake of impelling us to join in your own loving will toward reconciliation and peace. 

Beloved God, upon us to sharing more deeply your own love for this our world. Pull us into your will toward reconciliation and peace. Transform these agonies of war into agonies for peace, until we yearn for peace so profoundly that we become your channels for its accomplishment. 

Through Jesus Christ our crucified and resurrected Lord, Amen.

May Suchocki’s prayer, or that of another (including your own), bring us peace.

Grace Yia-Hei Kao is Associate Professor of Ethics at Claremont School of Theology. She is the author of Grounding Human Rights in a Pluralist World (Georgetown University Press, 2011) and her co-edited anthology with Ilsup Ahn on Asian American Christian Ethics is forthcoming (with Baylor University Press). She is also co-editing a volume with Rebecca Todd Peters that is tentatively entitled “Encountering the Sacred: A Theological Exploration of Women’s Lives.” Read more about her work on her website.

Categories: Christianity, Prayer, Social Justice

Tags: , , ,

13 replies

  1. Thank you Prof. G. -amen. Im at a loss for words myself. All I can think to say is this has become a Bizarre world, full of egotistical, paranoid, lost souls with no notion or idea of the Holy Spirit, God our Creator. I miss being in your classes.


    • Valentina – so great to hear from you and thanks for writing. I recall reading your FB post the other day; the violence and loss of life is astounding. Blessings to you during this time.


    • Thanks Grace for your mindfulness today for world peacefulness. It got me thinking about the poems I’ve read too that have moved me the most deeply. Here is a poem by the 13th c. Japanese Zen Master Dogen, so tenderly setting forth a blade of grass as a way of re-imagining a united world. He says:

      There are myriads of forms
      and hundreds of grasses
      throughout the entire earth,
      and yet each grass and each form
      itself is the entire earth.


      • Sarah – thanks for writing and the poem. I recall reading some of Master Dogen’s work in a Zen Buddhism class I once took. The world would be a much better place if we really lived out these ideas of care, compassion and interdependence.


  2. Thanks for speaking so boldly against war. Your words have inspired me to speak ever more boldly against all wars–they create more suffering than they end.


  3. Beloved God, you feel the pain of the world, the griefs of the world.

    Beloved God, move us to choose reconciliation and peace.

    Beloved God, may until we yearn for peace so profoundly that we become your channels for its accomplishment.

    A bit more ecumenical, but I would still wish for the prayer to affirm the joy and flourishing of the world and not just its suffering. Life is meant to be enjoyed, this is why war is such an evil.


    • Carol – thanks for both of these posts. I love your (more ecumenical) prayer – the words themselves and the spirit behind them. Thanks again for all you do for peace and reconciliation.


  4. I picked up my newspaper today and thought, “It’s a bad day for the world.” And then I looked out over Lake Mendota, and thought, “It’s a beautiful day.” Both are true, and minding that tension and moving toward greater peace and beauty is what we are all called to do. Om shanti, shanti, shanti.


  5. Nancy – thanks for writing. And there is much truth to your observation!


  6. I know – I have been sending good wishes to all wounded and dead in my meditations in the past few days.



  1. A Prayer for our Troubled Times By Grace Yia-Hei Kao | Dr. Grace Kao
  2. A Prayer for our Troubled Times | Dr. Grace Kao

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