Prayers for Ukraine
By Derek Weber
The church around the world lifts up prayers for the people of Ukraine. To help give voice to those prayers and unity in the praying, we have gathered some words that have been written by others and present them here. Use these words in your private prayer closets or in gathered communities of faith.
We begin with a word from United Methodist Bishop of the Nordic Baltic Area, Bishop Christian Alsted:
Pastoral Letter in Light of the Tragic Events in Ukraine
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
There is war in Europe; Russia has invaded Ukraine, which is a free independent democracy.
War and violence are evil and always entail considerable human costs. The Christian message points to the path of reconciliation and never to war and violence as a solution to conflicts.
In the face of this evil, we pray for a logic different from the one based on geopolitical competition. We pray for a change of hearts and minds of leaders; we pray for de-escalation and dialogue instead of violence and war.
The Social Principles of The United Methodist Church say:
We deplore war and urge the peaceful settlement of all disputes among nations. From the beginning, the Christian conscience has struggled with the harsh realities of violence and war, for these evils clearly frustrate God’s loving purposes for humankind. We yearn for the day when there will be no more war and people will live together in peace and justice. —2016 Book of Discipline, Social Principles, ¶ 164
Our central conference consists of Nordic, Baltic, and Eurasian countries, including Russia and Ukraine. The Christian church is not nationalistic, and our relations with our brothers and sisters in other countries are not limited by nationality or culture. We have deep relations with Methodists in Ukraine and in Russia, and although we are influenced by our culture and the political realities, we must never allow this to hinder or break our unity in Christ.
We stand with the United Methodists in Ukraine in prayer for protection, reconciliation, and peace. We pray for pastors, leaders, and congregations in The United Methodist Church in Ukraine; may God grant that their witness of reconciliation and peace will bring strength and hope to the Ukrainian people.
We pray for Bishop Eduard Khegay, bishop of both Russia and Ukraine; may God give him the wisdom and grace that he needs in his ministry and leadership under these challenging circumstances.
In the Nordic and Baltic episcopal area, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania all have borders with Russia; and in addition, Latvia and Lithuania have borders with Belarus. In the Baltic countries in particular, the invasion of Ukraine causes great concern.
The United Methodists in the Nordic countries stand with the Methodists in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in prayer for protection and peace. May the church's testimony of reconciliation and peace in Christ offer hope and strength to the people in the Baltic countries.
In the coming week, we will enter the season of Lent, which, in the church, is a time for prayer and soul-searching. I call on all our congregations to intercede for the people of Ukraine and for the leaders in the world who have the power to bring an end to war. I call on all our congregations to pray and fast for reconciliation and peace in the world. May God, in his grace, open our eyes to the things that make for peace, may he protect us all from the escalation and spreading of war, and may we follow him on his path of truth and peace.
May Christ have mercy on us all
A Prayer for Ukraine from Rev. Beth Richardson, Dean Emeritus of The Upper Room Chapel
God makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. …
God breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
God burns the shields with fire.
God says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalm 46:9-10 (NRSV)
God of peace,
Russia has invaded the Ukraine and war seems inevitable.
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
God of wisdom,
Rain down your Spirit onto the leaders of the world
That they might find a way where there is no way.
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
God of comfort,
Wrap the grieving ones in your cloak of consolation.
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
God of courage,
Be present with all those who are in harm’s way.
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
Prayer for Ukraine, by Kayla Craig
O God of peace, our hearts are heavy
And our brains can barely keep up with the breaking news.
We don’t know what to say or what to do in a world so wounded.
So we come to you with hearts heavy for
All who sit in the crossfires of violence and acts of war.
O God of peace, be with the people of Ukraine.
With the mothers who carry babies to subway shelters.
With the fathers who hold their heads in their hands.
With the children who absorb the traumas.
Of violent acts of powerful men.
O God of peace, we don’t know the words to pray
For a warring world and all who are vulnerable in it.
We don’t pretend to know the extent of the damages
Or what tomorrow (or today) will bring.
But we know that you are a God of peace
And we can’t bomb our way to shalom.
O God of peace, comfort the crying and heal the hurt.
Tend the aching and soothe the fearful.
Make us instruments of your peace
Creating a sacred symphony where
Rhythms of grace are danced upon
And evil has lost its sting, now and forevermore.
O God of peace, hear our prayer.
A Prayer for Ukraine by Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, Faith Vigil for Peace in Ukraine, ELCA
O Lord, God of life, as you care for all creation, give us your peace. May our security come not from weapons, but from respect. May our strength come not from violence, but from love. May our own wealth come not from money, but from sharing.
May our path be not one of ambition, but of justice. May our victory not be one of revenge, but of forgiveness. Unarmed and confident, help us to defend the dignity of all creation. Sharing today and always the bread of solidarity and peace. Amen.
UCC Officers Share Prayer for Ukraine
Hear our prayers for all those who will die today because of war in Ukraine and other war-torn countries all over this world. Grant them an end to the suffering of this world and eternal peace that is only found in You.
We pray for the people of Ukraine, Russia, and all nations — that war and bloodshed can be avoided and a new, just peace can be forged out of this crisis. We ask God grant wisdom to the leaders of nations, calling them to end provocation on all sides and invest instead in “the things that make for peace” as called for in all our faith traditions (Luke 19:41-2).
We pray for an end to the deep insecurity and mistrust on all sides, and call on leaders to build trust, based not on military might or alliances, but on the basis of our shared future and common humanity. Now is a time in which past harm should be acknowledged and addressed, and new partnerships can be envisioned.
We pray for and call on our leaders to have the courage to take small, verifiable, and independent steps toward peace, inviting others to reciprocate. Now is time to invest in conflict resolution, diplomacy, and international cooperation — not more weapons which only escalate tension in the region.
Be with those suffering in ways that we cannot.
Protect them from devastation in ways those positioned in authority will not. Shield and comfort them as they confront the terror of violence that surrounds them. Hold them close to your heart and stay the hand of the enemies against them. Give us the courage and the strength to cry aloud against wickedness in high places that dare to harm others made in your image.
Comfort the children and heed their cries to be saved from harm in this world.
Make us a people who love our children, all of our children, more than we love greed, power, and control. Overturn governments of tyranny wherever they are found. Disrupt the intentions of evil and give us power to stand against demonic forces of greed and control. Grant that peace and justice come to warring nations by the hands of those courageous enough to stand and study war no more. Let Thy kin-dom come on earth as it is in heaven, we pray.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
From the UCC, https://www.ucc.org/ucc-officers-share-prayer-for-ukraine/.
Lament for Ukraine by Melanie Simmons
Almighty God, our God, Prince of Peace,
why do you allow war?
Our sensibilities are shattered as a people living in peace are disrupted;
a despot invades their way of life.
Like stampeding buffaloes, tanks roll in a path of destruction;
roads are paved with destroyed vehicles and ruin.
Bombs fly like diving birds of prey, destroying homes;
rubble is strewn across the city.
Striking like lightning, drones shoot missiles into communities;
children cry out in fright as their homes are destroyed – who shall comfort them?
Streams of refugees flee on broken roads;
where are the hungry to find food, or the sick to find care?
Places of healing and new life have become areas of death;
the blood of pregnant women and newborns mingles with the dust sifting down upon them.
The elite perpetrators laugh at the distress, like hyenas happy to feed upon their prey.
How long must the innocent be rent by the claws and teeth of those self-centered animals?
Are you not called the Prince of Peace? Where are your people to find you in the midst of this?
We cannot hit “Undo” on what has been done, and our pain and anger blind us to any response beyond what we see directly in front of us.
Where are you, to show us a different response than lashing out in retaliative strikes?
Where are you, to teach the greedy how to share instead of take?
Where are you, to heal the broken in body, mind, and soul?
Where is your saving grace as lives are shredded, with pieces strewn about like confetti?
Stop this war! Stop the fighting, the destruction, the killing!
Turn the drones around, eliminate them from the sky!
Demolish the tanks, drive them back to the country from whence they came!
Beat the weapons of war into tools of restoration and renewal.
Break the hardened hearts of the greedy, those stretching to take what is not theirs:
teach them with first-hand experience why their attacks are wrong;
let them understand personally why destroying homes and families is an atrocity to be prevented rather than pursued!
Cause the soldiers to repent of what they do to their neighbors;
make them understand the truth of the unjustified terror they strew!
Let them turn back to their own country, bearing the truth to its citizens so that all may know the evil their leader sows.
Change the leadership! Overturn the heart of the despot or remove him;
remove evil from power, that the needs of people may be met instead of selfish wants!
Curse the greed, the hunger for power, the ambition that has cursed your people!
Let there be peace again, cooperation instead of the tearing apart of neighboring states.
Bring your love to bear, to drive out hate and to heal the wounds of war.
How can people live in harmony again if it takes love to drive out hate, but we are blinded with overwhelming anguish to only see the hate?
How can we talk about heavenly justice when confronted with complete injustice?
How can we talk about a loving God who allows unprovoked pain and suffering?
How can we profess the hesed of our God, let alone convince others that you love all people, when war rends families and communities apart?
Shall more profess atheism, saying, “There is no God,” because you do not protect the innocent from annihilation?
How can our faith reconcile your steadfast promise of love and peace with the terror and agony filling our senses?
Yet we know that you have blessed your people, providing grace for those who cry out to you.
The Israelites were redeemed multiple times, repeatedly brought back to the promised land and restored after so many of their children had been systematically murdered.
Your fledgling church survived great persecution to grow into a world power.
When your Church became too corrupt, you provided saints to redirect the faith.
Despite misuse of your name to justify genocide, your Word traveled to the ends of the earth.
When the war to end all wars ended, the world recovered.
The war after that ended with nuclear threat, and you enabled political balance to prevent world annihilation with atomic bombs.
With each devastation, you change the old into a new thing;
from a remnant, you create a great nation.
Surely the One who conquered all sin can overcome this intense barrage of it;
the Good Shepherd will carry his wounded sheep to a place of safety and relief.
I will trust in my Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer.
I will proclaim your glory before all the people, praising your power and chasing your wisdom.
I will walk in the ways of the Lord, that the love of our God may shine through my actions as a beacon of hope in this time of darkness.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.