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Now, Where Do You First Start to Pray for Peace ?

Now, Where Do You First Start to Pray for Peace ?
Shattered peace?

Gunshots in a theater, the arrest of a woman that looks like something out of a bad movie with one result—dead people. The peace of many has been shattered. Still we pray for peace.

What is Peace?

If we were to ask people what peace is, we would get different answers from different people. That is the nature of us as human beings. We are unique, molded by various circumstances and so we naturally have different viewpoints.

However, when it comes to matters such as peace a person in a war-torn area will have a different answer from someone in a relatively peaceful country. A person in an urban area that is witnessing continual violence will most likely answer differently from the person in the relative safety of the suburbs. A member of a race that has been historically singled out and murdered with impunity will answer differently from someone who has not had to deal with that reality. And people whose family members have died violently will . . . You can fill it out. Peace looks differently to different people.

Yet, we all carry within us the longing for some degree of tranquility. We all would like to think that we can take a walk to the bus stop and stand there unharmed. We all would like to be able to get in our car and go from point A to point B and get there without being the victim of another’s propensity for verbal or physical violence. And so, we pray for peace.

To Pray for Peace

Regardless of our different understandings and the nuances among our common understanding, we should pray for peace. But where do we start?

We start our prayer for peace with God and God’s love. Here’s why.

God’s love is unconditional. When we start there, we will pray with less hostility. We therefore have less barriers in our praying. Here is an example from my upcoming book, How to Pray: Living Wholly Through Honest, Surrendered, Heart Praying. It helps to illustrate the point:

“Nora didn’t like the people down the road. She thought that they were crude. Of course, God agreed with her. God approved of the people of whom she approved. Her enemies were God’s enemies. Her values were God’s values. No questions asked.”

Thus, we see that starting where we are is dangerous. We tend to put up barriers and create categories and decide on who is safe and who is not. To truly pray for peace, we constantly need the love of God working in us to see people the way God sees them and love them as God loves them. God is more than we are and has a bigger agenda than we do. After all, God loves the world.

Here’s the thing. Sometimes peace seems abstract, even elusive. However, people make or break peace. Generally, it is people who shatter it. Whether it be in the theater, on the roadside, in a prison cell, on the road . . . or wherever, it is people who commit violent acts against and who speak violently toward another. Thus, when we pray for peace, we must start with God and pray for love in our hearts for if peace does not begin with us, with whom will it begin?

To Pray for Peace Without Delusion

It’s true that Nora in the example above prayed out of a delusion—that God was just like her with her petty way of seeing people. Thus, if she were to pray for peace it would be with severe limitations, for there would be many situations where she could not be an agent of peace. However, there is another way in which we are deluded when we pray for peace. It goes back to the whole notion of who is good.

As I point out in How to Pray: Living Wholly Through Honest, Surrendered, Heart Praying, everybody wants to be considered good. This goodness is based on strange things like how well your lawn is kept and whether or not you say “sir” and “ma’am.” It has nothing to do with the heart, the wellspring of our thoughts, actions, and attitudes. Small wonder that “good” people speak and act violently, at times for no apparent reason.

Only God knows the heart. We do not even understand ours fully, much less that of another. Thus, if we are going to pray for peace without delusion, we have to accept our limitations, including the limitation of our heart. As we pray for God’s love, we open our heart for God to constantly renew it. On a daily basis, pray like David:

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and put a new and right spirit within me (Psalm 51:10).

Everyone needs fixing inside.

How are you praying for peace?

Experience God more fully through honest, surrendered, heart praying and live with greater clarity and peace.

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Now, Where Do You First Start to Pray for Peace ?
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