for release January 10, 2003
by Melodie Davis
Steadfastly Praying for Peace
They will never win the Nobel Peace Prize, but they would certainly get my vote for it.
A very small group from my church meets every Wednesday morning at 7:00 a.m. at the church house to steadfastly pray for peace. I admire their faithfulness at getting up so early and sticking to it when the world situation looks bleak or iffy at best. Steadfast is a good old-fashioned word that somehow seems perfect for this bunch, meaning, "firm in belief, determination."
Some of these prayerful peacemakers also keep these needs before our congregation. I especially remember during the Iran hostage crisis of 1979, one of them prayed for the hostages every Sunday morning during worship. When Presbyterian minister Ben Weir and others were held hostage for even longer years in Lebanon, every Sunday someone faithfully prayed "for the hostages." You almost got tired of hearing the request but thank God, they didn't tire and God didn't tire either. The hostages were eventually freed.
How do you keep praying when things look hopeless? Do our prayers really affect world situations?
If you look back at the last six months in the U.S., when President Bush started talking about attacking Iraq to eliminate the threat that Saddam poses, many people believe that he fully expected to be able to move forward with that plan militarily and just carry it out. Back in September, people talked about the war on Iraq being on a runaway train.
But people began to express their objections or hesitations, including close advisors to the president. Many concerned peacemakers around the world prayed for more time, for a different solution, for peace, for a peaceful overthrow, anything but outside attack. Many people believe that the prayers and the voiced concerns of hundreds of thousands if not millions of people forced the president's hand into not only taking time to line up congressional support for his plan, and then, support of the U.N. Security Council, which of course called for weapons inspections. This was certainly not in Bush's original plan.
People have various opinions about whether or not the inspections were a farce and whether anyone will believe the findings. But by gathering information for a 13,000-page report from the inspections and then leaders at least making an appearance of dealing with it, we have bought time. It remains to be seen whether that time paves a way toward peace or different solutions.
While some may argue that precious time is wasting and that buying time or stalling is risky, surely it can be argued just as strenuously that the tremendously high stakes of going to war in the current situation are equally risky. Risky in terms of provoking Saddam to retaliate if attacked. Risky in terms of giving people in other countries even more reason to hate the U.S. and make it easy for terrorists to recruit allies.
So, in my book, the prayers of peacemakers around the world have at least bought time.
Obviously, the worldwide threat of terrorism continues. Engaging in war with Iraq could certainly be a distraction from those efforts. We all want to go to bed at night feeling safe and secure with our families.
That is where the prayers of these faithful saints come in. What can one person do realistically to prevent war on a national level? Not a lot, but the prayers and voices of many joined together do begin to make a difference. Later on this group at my church started praying also for a different family or member of the congregation each week. They rotate through the whole church several times a year, asking family members if they have any special requests. That's spreading peace too, in my book. They pray for the safety and protection of drivers on a very busy, dangerous interstate highway that stretches through our town. That's preventing bloodshed.
I bet this group of praying folks is not alone. Far from it. May we all raise our hearts and voices in steadfast prayer in search of peace.
For a free vinyl "peace flag" (4" x 5") with the words "Pray for Peace, Act for Peace" on it (see at http://peace.mennolink.org/resources/prayflag.html), write to me at: Melodie Davis, Another Way c/o Name\Address of YOUR newspaper; or e-mail: Melodie@mennomedia.org.
You can also visit Another Way on the Web at www.thirdway.com.
Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three daughters.
NOTES TO EDITORS: text = 710 words; end material = 105 words
We would appreciate it if you would include the "Globe Syndicate" bug at the end of the column.
©2003 by Globe Syndicate, all rights reserved.
Return to Another Way