We welcome you to this guide to praying for peace and for the people of Ukraine. This guide has been prepared in collaboration with the other language versions of Pray As You Go. English, Dutch, French, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish and Arabic speakers will use these same words in prayer around the world. We hope this guide will help you find the words to talk to God, as one friend speaks to another about this desperate situation.
How did you react when you heard the news that Russian troops, as many as 200,000 of them, had been ordered into Ukraine? Since then, how have you been feeling and what have you been thinking as you have heard the sirens and explosions and young children and their families sheltering in metro stations while others walk into exile?
Perhaps you feel anger at the violation of the territorial integrity of a sovereign state.
You may be astonished that, after so many decades of apparent peace, war on this scale has returned to the continent of Europe.
Above all, you may be fearful for the safety of innocent people: women, men and children, our brothers and sisters each one of them.
You may also be disappointed that at a time when much of the world is beginning to return to some semblance of normality, we are all being plunged once again into uncertainty and confusion.
At a time like this, the words of Isaiah, about the coming Reign of God, have a particular urgency:
He shall judge between the nations,
and shall decide disputes for many peoples;
and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore.
O house of Jacob,
come, let us walk
in the light of the Lord.
And your prayer? How is this right now? Have you been able to speak to Jesus about how you feel and what you've been thinking or are you too confused to do so?
How, you might be asking, might the followers of Jesus respond to what is happening?
We can stand shoulder to shoulder with the suffering Ukrainian people. We can renew our solidarity with them. After all, did not Saint Paul say in his First Letter to the Corinthians, if one member of the body hurts, the whole body suffers with it? If you get the chance to speak with, or send some supportive words to, those who are beside themselves with anxiety for their loved ones in Ukraine, do take it.
Many of us would have recently heard being read in church those challenging words of Jesus “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who persecute you”. With those words ringing in our ears, we can remember that our argument is with the Russian government not with the Russian people. We can love them and pray for them we certainly can because so many of them are angry and hurting as well.
And what was it that Mary said in her Magnificat?
“He has shown strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly”.
Right will be victorious: our God will see to that!
So, we can walk forward with confidence knowing that the friends of Jesus, wherever they may be whatever danger they are in, are never deserted by him. We can remember those words of Saint Paul in the Letter to the Romans,
“I am certain of this: neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers nor height nor depth nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”.
Yes, Jesus is Lord of everything, and he has a way of bringing good out of the least promising of circumstances. Let us now pray to him with confidence, and in solidarity with all who are suffering at this time.
Lord Jesus, you said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”, we beg you to watch over, guide, guard and protect innocent women and men and children.
Blessed are the poor in spirit.
Lord Jesus, who said “Blessed are the peacemakers”, we ask you, turn the hearts and minds of men and women of violence to thoughts and deeds of peace.
Blessed are the peacemakers.
Lord Jesus, you said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness”, inspire and strengthen the men and women working to bring about peace and reconciliation.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.
Lord Jesus, you said, “Blessed are the merciful”, we thank you for the many good people who are going to the aid of those in need, those who are wounded, those who are dying, those who are suffering, those who are displaced from their homes, those who are refugees.
Blessed are the merciful.
Lord Jesus, we pray for ourselves too that we may value the freedoms we enjoy and the democratic system we too often take for granted and which we see being stolen from our brothers and sisters in Ukraine.
Let us pause now and in silence pray for those most in need at this time.
We can now place all our prayers on a firm foundation by saying together the Lord’s Prayer:
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.
We remember how Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
Lord Jesus Christ, who are called the Prince of Peace, who are yourself our peace and reconciliation, who so often said, “Peace to you,” grant us peace. Make all men and women witnesses of truth, justice, and brotherly and sisterly love. Banish from their hearts whatever might endanger peace. Enlighten our rulers that they may guarantee and defend the great gift of peace. May all peoples of the earth become as brothers and sisters. May longed-for peace blossom forth and reign always over us all.
May the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his son our saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us.