Prayers for Unity, Reconciliation, and Justice

These prayers were drawn from themes in the Belhar Confession

A Responsive Prayer of Confession

There are many ways to be unfaithful to what we have become through baptism, 
to our commitment and our obedience to God. 
We offer God now our prayers of repentance.
We confess to you, living God, 
our failure to live as brothers and sisters, and as your children.

We confess to you, loving God, 
that we have not loved you as you have loved us.
We confess to you, gracious God, 
that we have doubted your word and failed to obey its teaching.

We confess to you, merciful God, 
our desire to own you and contain you within our doctrines and theologies.
We confess to you, almighty God, 
that we do not acknowledge you as Lord of all the earth.

Forgive us and redeem us for we have not allowed your presence to shine among us.
There are many ways in which we have failed 
in our commitment and obedience to our fellow men and women.

We turn towards our neighbors and our friends 
and offer them our prayers of repentance.

--submitted by Nolan Palsma, Pitcher Hill Community Church, North Syracuse, NY

A Prayer of Confession

O God of shalom,
we have built up walls to protect ourselves from our enemies,
but those walls also shut us off from receiving your love. 
Break down those walls.
Help us to see that the way to your heart 
is through the reconciliation of our own hearts with our enemies. 
Bless them and us, that we may come to grow in love 
for each other and for you, through Jesus Christ.

--submitted by Nolan Palsma, Pitcher Hill Community Church, North Syracuse, NY

A Prayer for Reconciliation

Across the barriers that divide race from race:
Reconcile us, O Christ, by your cross.
Across the barriers that divide rich from poor:
Reconcile us, O Christ, by your cross.
Across the barriers that divide people of different cultures:
Reconcile us, O Christ, by your cross.
Across the barriers that divide Christians:
Reconcile us, O Christ, by your cross.
Across the barriers that divide men and women, young and old:
Reconcile us, O Christ, by your cross. 
Confront us, O Christ, with the hidden prejudices and fears 
that deny and betray our prayers. 
Enable us to see the causes of strife, remove from us all senses of superiority.
Teach us to grow in unity with all God's children.

--submitted by Nolan Palsma, Pitcher Hill Community Church, North Syracuse, NY

A Prayer of Thanksgiving and Intercession

Lord of heaven and earth, we have begun to listen to your Holy Spirit, calling us to unity in Christ:
We thank you, O Lord.
May we be more attentive to your inspiration and more ready to listen to one another.
We ask you, O Lord.
We have begun to dialogue with one another, celebrating our common faith and seeking to understand our differences:
We thank you, O Lord.
May the patient work of pastors, theologians and Christian people continue to progress and bear lasting fruit:
We ask you, O Lord.
For the agreements reached on matters of theology and pastoral life:
We thank you, O Lord.
That we may be able to face and resolve the difficult issues which still divide us:
We ask you, O Lord.
For common witness in Christ which we have given in times of crisis, for justice, peace and humanitarian aid:
We thank you, O Lord.
That our unity may one day become such that the whole world may believe in the Christ you have sent:
We ask you, O Lord.
For progress in inter-religious dialogue throughout the world:
We thank you, O Lord.
That engaged in this dialogue, we may sense the urgency of full communion among Christians as a witness to other believers:
We ask you, O Lord.
For all living witnesses of personal communion in the love of Creator, Christ and Comforter.
We thank you, O Lord.
May their family life contribute to the Christian joy of the members of their churches:
We ask you, O Lord.
May the hope of one day sharing the same table and drinking from the same cup, increase our desire to do your will so as to receive from you this gift:
We ask you, O Lord.
We raise before you the concerns raised before us this day.

--submitted by Nolan Palsma, Pitcher Hill Community Church, North Syracuse, NY

A Prayer for Justice

Lord our God, you have revealed yourself 
as One who wishes to bring about justice and true peace among people;
In a world that looks away from injustice, 
You cast your eyes on the destitute, the poor, and the wronged;
You have called us to follow you, 
to preach good news to the poor, 
to proclaim release for the captives and recovery of sight for the blind, 
to set at liberty those who are oppressed 
and to proclaim the time of your blessing.
Be present with your church, Lord, as we respond to your call. 
Open our eyes to the downtrodden.
Fill us with compassion for the plight of the alien, the refugee, and the immigrant.
Lead us into ministries that help orphans and widows.
Give us courage to block the paths of the ungodly who exploit the poor.
Set us free from pious exercises that prevent us from the true worship you choose:
Sharing bread with the hungry,
Sharing homes with the homeless,
Sharing clothes with the naked,
Sharing hearts with our own kin.
So may your justice roll down like waters, your righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
Lead our footsteps to stand with the poor, that we might stand with you.
Have mercy, O God:
Scatter the proud, 
Put down the mighty,
Lift up the lowly,
Fill up the hungry,
And send the rich away empty-handed.
Our Father, etc. ...

--by Paul Janssen, a prayer based on the "justice" section of the Belhar