If ever there was a time for mutual respect and peace between nations, it’s now. We’ve come such a long way since the two great wars of the twentieth century, and yet there still seems to be a hunger for division fuelled by suspicion across the western world. I hear about it on the news every day: Brexit, Trump, another election campaign, another vote, yet I feel so powerless in the face of it – just one person, relatively uninformed in spite of my best efforts, and wondering how on earth to make sense of it all. When you put this alongside the plight of our fellow humans in refugee camps and warzones, ostracised, misunderstood and labelled as ‘other’, I tend to despair. The one thing I do know is that as Christians we are called to pray – for leaders, nations and peace.
The Bible doesn’t avoid our dilemmas regarding peace and powerlessness. It also offers hope. Psalm 34, for example, has a lot to say about how God hears our prayers (v 4-5, 15 & 17) and longs to give us good things (v 8-9). Even when things in the present can be agonisingly difficult or seem hopeless, just as they had done for the Psalmist at times (v 18), there is still hope in God. I think it’s significant that in the midst of this treatise on the power of prayer and praise, we are told to ‘seek peace and pursue it’ (v 14). It’s got me thinking about how I can do that in my everyday life, and how much I need to pray for it on a global scale. Prayer is one thing I can do. Yes, it’s a mystery, and I don’t always see the answers I want, let alone within the timeframe I had in mind, but prayer is an activity of faith and trust. It is therefore something that we are called to do as people who have faith in the God who made our world and everything in it.
I find it hard to sit and pray with words. At times mere language seems empty or ill-chosen. More often I am altogether lost for words. How does one pray at all in the face of such powerful chaos? I find it much easier to express my prayers in colours and images – the ‘groans which words cannot express’ for me become realised in cutting, sticking and spreading paint. We’ve been talking on the Facebook group lately about how we can make very prayerful pages in our journals yet without words. I think this is why.
So I need some things that will help me express my cries to God for Unity and Peace. I’ve found a few, and for me they are calming blue and include a lot of soaring doves. The dove has been used as a symbol of peace since the early church. It was a dove bringing back an Olive branch for Noah that heralded the end of the flood (Genesis 8:11). It was a dove that gave us the powerful metaphor of finding a place of rest and peace in God, as the Psalmist cries ‘O for the wings…’ (Psalm 55:6-8). It was a dove at the Baptism of Jesus who showed the Spirit of God anointing the Son with the affirmation of the Father’s love, and giving him both strength and peace for the journey ahead (Matthew 3:16-17).
So I’m praying with blue paint and sticky notes with sky for space to soar, and lots of doves! I think I’ll be drawing some olive branches in their beaks too.
Praying for Peace mini journalling set on Etsy
God gives us good things mini journalling set on Etsy