Called to be God’s priestly people, representing God to the world and the world to God, we are bound to pray for all people everywhere, including all victims of violence, suffering, and grief. I will admit, though, that I’m not always as mindful in prayer as I should be. My prayers are sometimes narrow in their scope, focused largely on my own concerns and the concerns of those I know personally.
Sometimes, though–and sadly–events happen that shake me out of this spiritual insularity. The shooting rampage at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado is one of those events. As I write, details are scarce and still-changing; but we know that what should have been a fun event bringing neighbors together–an event like those in which, in our own locales, many of us took part–turned tragic because of senseless violence. Mayhem and murder that should have stayed on the movie screen brutally ended 12 people’s lives, injured 50 more, and shook a community.
I invite you to pray with me, then, for the victims of this violent act and for their families, friends, and loved ones; for its perpetrator; for the people of Aurora; for those who serve as first responders, police officers, and others workng in law enforcement and the justice system; for the safety of all our nation’s communities; and for victims of violence, especially gun violence, in all places.
Great God of heaven and earth, who created us in your image and who teaches us to seek the welfare of the cities in which we live: We commend all cities and neighborhoods to your care, that they might be kept free from social strife and decay. Give us strength of purpose and concern for others, that we may create communities of justice and peace where your will is done. Grant that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace.
Hear our prayers for the people of Aurora: for all in deep distress, for all who grieve, for the injured and the shocked, for those in despair–may all these be cared for and comforted. For all in the emergency services working long hours to listen and care, protect and heal–may they be given strength and also find support.
Hear our prayers for all around the world who face terror and violence. May violence be overcome and the path to peace be found. As all human life is fragile, and each person is precious in your eyes, teach us to value one another as you value us.
Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth: deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you.
Assist us mercifully, loving God, in these our supplications and prayers, and dispose the way of your servants towards the attainment of everlasting salvation; that, among all the changes and chances of this mortal life, they may ever be defended by your gracious and ready help; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Adapted from various prayers from The Book of Common Prayer (The Episcopal Church, 1979); The Book of Common Worship (Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 1993); and “A prayer for the people of Norway and for all victims of violence and terror,” World Council of Churches, July 22, 2011, http://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/wcc-programmes/unity-mission-evangelism-and-spirituality/spirituality-and-worship/a-prayer-for-the-people-of-norway-and-for-all-victims-of-violence-and-terror.html.