During a Global Peace Prayer on 22 March, Christians across the world drew together to pray for peace in a broken world, and to listen to voices from people suffering in Ukraine and other conflict-ridden areas.
Hans Lessing, acting general secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches, opened the prayer by urging a recommitment to God’s covenant with all creation. “In our damaged histories, God, redeem us from our past, in our willing acts of conflict, Lord lead us to seek peace,” he prayed.
Mikie Roberts, World Council of Churches (WCC) programme executive for Spiritual Life, implored for mercy. “Let us thirst for the right actions that will achieve peace,” he said.
Voices from Ukraine offered a sense of immediacy and urgency in striving for peace.
Yulia Starodubet, a minister from the Methodist Church of Ukraine, described the many emotions those in Ukraine have felt since the Russian invasion: anger, sadness, depression. “But God helped us in this situation and changed our emotions to hope, desire to stay strong, and resilience,” she said. “We make it because the world is on our side.”
Starodubet expressed gratitude for global solidarity and for persistent prayer. “Your love and care helps us continue to hope and stay strong,” she said.
Oleksii Yudit, a Mennonite from Ukraine, also urged persistent prayer. “Please pray for our needs. Please pray for our people. Please pray about our soldiers and about our country,” he said.
Igor Bandura, form the All-Ukrainian Union of Association of Evangelical Christians-Baptists, described the great needs of the people in Ukraine. “People are in terrible condition,” he said. “Most of all, they need God’s love surrounding them. So please, stay with us, during the time of the war. Please pray for the victory.”
Yulilya Kominko, from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, described how the ongoing war has caused a crisis of faith for many. “I constantly hear: ‘My faith is wavering.’ Let us pray that we remain faithful to God, to thank him even in suffering.”
In a message, Cesar Garcia, general secretary of the Mennonite World Conference, reflected on the state of the world and how vital prayer is, particularly when accompanied by work for peace. “It seems our world is broken—broken!” he said. “The war in Ukraine has entered its second year,” he said, also noting that simultaneously, escalating violence in Palestine, continuing military exercises threatening peace on the Korean Peninsula, state violence in Myanmar, a fragile situation in Ethiopia, and war in several other parts of the world threaten peace.
Katerina Pekridou, executive secretary for Theological Dialogue with the Conference of European Churches, prayed for God to shake the foundations of selfish human plans. “Open the hearts of those in the west, caught as we are in the web of our own economic self interests,” she said. “Preserve us from the arbitrariness of the powerful of this world and lead them to recognize their limits, that they may find ways toward peace, and put an end to the loss of life.”
In a closing blessing Bishop Rosemarie Wenner said: “Let us go as people of hope, strengthened through the love of God so that we may be witnesses of peace and hope and love to many others.”
—Article courtesy of the World Council of Churches
Image: 9 October 2022, Kyiv, Ukraine: ‘World, Help us’ reads a sign outside the Saint Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery in central Kyiv. By the monastery have been placed the remains of cars and military tanks destroyed in the battle of Kyiv, when Russian miltary forces tried to overtake the city of Kyiv following an invasion of the country in late February 2022. (Albin Hillert/LWF)