[God] brought [Abram] outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” ~ Genesis 15:5
God of abundance, we know that you are able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine, and yet our prayers are limited by the boundaries of our human imagination. We pray for small mercies when you offer overflowing grace. We ask for minor alleviation of suffering when you offer true justice. We meekly request a reduction in violence when you offer universal and eternal peace. Help us to put our trust in you so that the shaping of our world might be guided by your wisdom and your love rather than our own limited human perspective. Make us bold to pray that your will be done in all ways and in all places in all of your creation:
- Workers race to rescue school children trapped in the rubble of a collapsed building in Lagos, Nigeria, and the community of Suzano in Brazil mourns the loss and grief caused by a shooting in a local school. All 157 passengers and crew sadly lost their lives after a Boeing crashed just after take-off in Ethiopia and the death toll rises in heavy rains and flooding in Malawi. In the face of such tragedy, we pray for small signs of hope and individual miracles, forgetting that you are able to transform our world so that suffering and fear and hate of all kinds might cease. May your will be done so that grace and love might abound in our world.
- The governor of California, USA, has placed a temporary halt on death penalty executions, and Cardinal George Pell has been sentenced to jail for sexual abuse crimes in Australia, but we fail to see a path toward true righteousness in our social systems and in our institutions. May your will be done so that your justice might guide us in our community relationships.
- Investigators have found evidence of extreme ethnic violence in DR Congo, the world watches as North Korea once again represents a threat through their construction of rocket-launching facilities, and we watch and despair as persistent clashes continue to kill soldiers and innocents in Yemen and Afghanistan. Our prayers so often are limited to asking for an end to violence, but your vision for the world is one of peace beyond anything we can imagine. May your will be done so that your shalom of safety, peace, and unity might prevail.
- A white supremacist attacked two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 49. Live videos of the horrendous gun slaughter were aired around the world on social media. We wonder how many vicariously enjoyed the violence, how many want to imitate, how many deepened their commitment to prevent it. Even as our hearts break with those who have lost their loved ones, even as we pray, we wonder how a good God could fail, over and over, to stop this horror. May your will be done, so we can join you in bringing peace out of darkness, new life out of death, compassion out of bigotry.
Like Abram, O God, we question your promises, wondering if the coming of your kingdom is even possible. Give us the faith to follow you and trust in your covenant with us. Despite all obstacles, fill us with your vision of how the world ought to be so that we might be bearers of hope and small glimpses of that which is to come. As Abram prayed for a son but learned that your promises would exceed his imagination, so too may we learn to pray beyond our wildest dreams so that we can participate in the depth and truth of your plans for all of us and for all of creation. Amen.