If you’re not sure what to say, or how to say it, when leading a prayer for the children who are still incarcerated in camps at the U.S. southern border, consider these words. For more information about the crisis at the U.S. souther border see this Do Justice blog post.
Leader: Please join in a time of special prayer for the crisis at the U.S. southern border. Regardless of our political opinions, what is happening in the camps where children are being held is a tragedy that deserves our utmost care and concern. In this prayer you will together speak the bold words, from Psalm 28, while I speak words of prayer for this specific situation.
To you, Lord, I call;
you are my Rock,
do not turn a deaf ear to me.
For if you remain silent,
I will be like those who go down to the pit.
God, we lift in prayer the children who have crossed the U.S. southern border, searching for a place that is safe, where there is the possibility of a hopeful future. They are in the pit of despair. Thousands of those children are today in camps -- camps that are too full, camps that don’t have adequate food and water, camps where they are sick, and afraid, and traumatized. Camps where they feel so, so alone. We call out to you for these children, God. Do not turn your ear from them.
Hear my cry for mercy
as I call to you for help,
as I lift up my hands
toward your Most Holy Place.
Do not drag me away with the wicked,
with those who do evil,
who speak cordially with their neighbors
but harbor malice in their hearts.
God, we do not want to harbor hatred for those who are unlike us. Root it out of us. Help us to see the ways that we judge, that we look down on, that we dehumanize people who are created in your image. Help us to see the ways that we feel powerful and effective in the face of this crisis when we simply blame and disparage those who have a different political opinion than us. Help us to lift our hands to you, toward your kingdom, and shape our values and our opinions and our perspectives according to what we know about that Kingdom which has already come, but which is not yet fully here.
Repay them for their deeds
and for their evil work;
repay them for what their hands have done
and bring back on them what they deserve.
Because they have no regard for the deeds of the Lord
and what his hands have done,
he will tear them down
and never build them up again.
Convict each of us, Lord, for what we have done, and what we have left undone, which has allowed this crisis to occur. God, we pray for accountability for those who have acted unjustly. We pray that those who can take responsibility will be moved to do so. We pray that those who can make change would find the courage to stand up to the powers that keep them afraid to do so. We pray for the President, for the leaders in federal agencies, for the employees at Border Patrol facilities, for those who interact with the children and families who are seeking asylum -- give them wisdom, compassion, and a striving toward all that looks like justice and peace. Destroy the policies and practices and attitudes that have caused such harm to them, Lord.
Praise be to the Lord,
for he has heard my cry for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him.
Give us new hope, Lord. Dwell among your people. Deliver these children from their suffering, and if you will, use us -- your church -- to help to do it. Help us to know how to be stewards of what you’ve given us -- our money, our skills, our efforts, and the power of our voice and vote. Call us to be your partners, your workers, your servants in establishing your kingdom here on earth.
The Lord is the strength of his people,
a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
Save your people and bless your inheritance;
be their shepherd and carry them forever.
Be the shepherd for these children, God. Carry them. Today, and forever.