I awoke last night with memories from the carnage in Bruxelles still in my mind. I yearned for a prayer with which to respond to the images — something to banish the media frenzy I had tried to distance myself from during the day. I began to ponder what such a prayer would need to look like, for it to bear the burden of the day’s violence.
Below is the result, with no claim to perfection. It is merely one attempt to pray in the face of human-made catastrophes. Many will recognize my indebtedness to Isaac Watts and his hymn paraphrase of Psalm 90 in the opening paragraph, and to Psalm 104 in the closing paragraph.
Eternal, All-Compassionate God:
You are our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast,
and our eternal home.
We lift our hearts and voices in lament to you this day
as we grieve the violence, the loss of life, and the destruction
Have mercy, O God, have mercy.
We entrust to your infinite compassion all those who have died.
May they rest in your eternal peace.
We pray for those who are fighting for their lives, and for those who are maimed and injured in body, mind, and soul.
Grant them easing of their pain and healing.
We pray for those tasked with responding to this catastrophe.
Give them steadfastness and wisdom.
And, as you commanded us to do, we pray for our enemies.
Let them not be lost in violence and hatred.
To all of us, grant deep compassion for all that lives, and an abiding longing for your peace.
Lord, send out your Spirit
And renew the face of our marred and grieving world.