On January 2, the United States killed a well-known military commander of Iran’s Quds Force, Major General Qasem Soleimani, who was designated by the U.S. as a terrorist. This event has significantly increased tensions between the U.S. and Iran.
On January 7, at least 56 people were killed in a stampede in the southeastern Iranian city of Kerman during the funeral for Qassem Soleimani. Early on January 8, the Iranians retaliated by launching more than 20 ballistic missiles at two military bases in Iraq where Americans are posted. The U.S. responded with an announcement of additional economic sanctions against Iran.
Leaders in both countries indicated on Wednesday that they may scale back aggressions, but the events have opened up the very real possibility of war. A war between the U.S. and Iran would only further destabilize the Middle East region and lead to the deaths of countless people.
In line with the decisions of Synod on Just War and the Christian calling to peacemaking, we urge churches across North America to join the world in praying for peace on Sunday. The following suggested words may help in crafting a prayer appropriate for your setting.
Prayer (Based on Psalm 85)
I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants--but let them not turn to folly.
God of peace, God who loves us and who loves the people of Iran, God who loves the poor and the powerful alike, we will listen to you. We pray, O God, that our nations will not turn to folly. We pray, O God, for wisdom, for patience and temperance and justice.
Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. Love and faithfulness meet together; justice and peace kiss each other.
God, we are full of fear as we consider the violence that could happen in this world. We long for your glory -- which looks like grace, like flourishing, like peace -- to dwell in this world that you created. Bring your salvation near to us, O Lord.
Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and justice looks down from heaven. The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest.
God, you are the author of peace, the creator of justice. We pray that you might bless the work of our hands, as we work for the peace that we so long for. We pray for an end to bombings, to drone strikes, to retaliation. We pray for an end to the amassing of weapons. We pray for an end of vengeance, of terror, and of threats.
Justice goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.
Empower us, through your spirit, that our homes, our nation, and countries around the world might become havens of peace. By your grace, help us to see every human being as a child of God. Bring healing to those who have experienced violence and trauma. Give protection to those who serve in the military. Give courage to those who are the first responders when a bomb strikes. Give wisdom to those who lead nations, that they will strive to work harder for peace than they do for war.
Show us your unfailing love, Lord, and grant us your salvation.
Ideas for Action:
We urge U.S. church members to advocate with their member of Congress for peace, using this action from our partner, Churches for Middle East Peace.
We encourage further prayer from Canadian churches for people impacted by the Tehran plane crash. See further information and prayer here.