Prayer for Remembrance Day: how can you stand to watch?

Lord, teach us how to pray, and help us to pray now.

We’re together today to honour and thank you for the courage and sacrifice of people who put their lives on the line to protect us. We pray for the families mourning the loss of their precious children and parents, friends and family members. We pray for the families coping with injury and pain.

In the year the UK pulled its forces out of Afghanistan, it has been particularly difficult to see meaning in any of this. We pray for families trying to make sense of their loss, while they watch what can look like a tragic cycle of endless violence dragging on unchanged.

Lord, how can you stand to watch us killing each other again, with high-sounding words, again? How can we stand to watch as the people of Afghanistan run out of food, 23 million people without enough to eat this winter? We pray for Afghan people mourning for the loss of their children, parents, friends and family members killed in this war. We pray for a solution that will allow basic provisions to be brought to people. Many of us are at a loss about what we should do, but we ask for your help, and we want to help if we can.

We pray for the people of Syria. After 10 years of war, the vast majority of people in Syria are living in poverty. The war has left no resources available to fight COVID-19, which has swept across the country, killing vast numbers of children and adults whose immune systems are weakened by malnutrition, and who have had no chance of getting a vaccine.

God, how can you stand by and allow such suffering? How can we stand by and watch people escape this terrifying situation, taking terrible risks to get to a safe country and then allow them to drown in our own sea?

We pray for an end to wars like these. We pray for the courage of the young people we have lost to mean something because we stopped doing this to each other.

We pray for the people who have been negotiating to save humanity from extinction in the climate talks in Glasgow. Maybe we’ve given up hope in those people, but they are currently all we’ve got: please give our leaders courage and inspiration for fast and radical change.

Have you given up on us, Lord? Not for the first time in history, we look to you to give us hope in the face of overwhelming odds. Show us as individuals how we can be part of real change.

We pray for the people working in our health services and care services. After two years of emergency mode, with winter crunch merging into COVID treatment and safety measures, many people are beyond their limits, having worked extreme hours and taken on extra responsibilities, and working with patients who have had cruelly long waits for treatment.

We thank you for their work and their sacrifice, and we ask for relief: we pray for the threat of COVID to reduce, we pray for money and people to do the work, and we ask for good management that acknowledges the pressure that is burning so many people out. We pray that people in need of treatment will get it.

So there’s our list of requests for you today, God. While we honour those we have lost, and commit to care for those who remain, will you help us reject selfishness and work in unity for peace and safety for everyone?

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