Praying for peace in Israel-Palestine

A prayer vigil for peace in the Middle East is available from the Church of Scotland.

Alternatively, this order may be used. We say together those parts printed in bold; other readings and prayers shall have no introduction. During the time of prayer you may light a smaller candle from the central one, which is lit at the start of our prayer time as a sign of solidarity with those who suffer.

Opening responses
Gather in our hearts, Lord.
Bring peace through our words.
Bring peace through our listening.
Bring peace through our actions.
Bring peace through our silence .
Bring peace through our lives.

Life could be good and rich and whole,
for God has well provided;
but we are from his will and aim
by greed and war divided.
They are God’s children whom we kill,
with guns and resolutions,
and softly cradled is our will
in holy institutions.

Happy are they who hear God’s Word
and then go out to do it;
happy are they whose life and work
are given direction through it.
Lord, send us out, pursuing peace
with sisters and with brothers:
allow us still the earth to bless
through Christ, the Man for others.
Fred Kaan (born 1929) © 1968 Stainer & Bell Ltd

Prayer of Approach
O Lord, Jesus Christ our God, our Saviour.
You have accepted to be incarnated in this holy land.
You came into this world to drag it out of darkness into light. You have suffered pain, death, the cross, burial, and resurrection for our sake.
Hear us as we join our prayers with those
living in Israel and Palestine, and across the world,
who long for the achievement of justice in this land,
who strongly yearn for peace in this land,
who seek that all people may live in security,
peace and stability; for your Name’s sake. Amen.
Adapted from His Highness Atallah Hanna Archbishop of Sebastia from the Greek  Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

Lighting a candle for peace
In the name of Christ, who is our peace,
we light this light for peace
in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel.
Come, light of God: give light to creation:
enlighten our hearts and remain with your world.

Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.
Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
he will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes. Psalm 37

Jesus said:
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those
who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5

Words of challenge and hope

Wadir, a Palestinian from East Jerusalem
“And since they, Israel, have this land – never have the peace. Never have the peace. It is only words.
“I don’t have any problem with the Jewish people. The problem with me is with the Israel government because all the rules they have in the Knesset, they are always against me and my people.
“I just give you an example. Do you see this settlement? … Its name is Efrat. … Just fifteen years ago, this settlement was much smaller. Look at how it has come – such a long way.
“This is the difference. When I say all the rules are against the Palestinian people. This is a live, a real, example. We’re talking about all these settlements. The Oslo peace process promised to remove all the settlements.
“But on the ground they are just building and building and building – and they’re not stopping.”

Rabbi Nava Hefetz, Rabbis for Human Rights
“There’s no good occupying force. Now, maybe if you compare Israel with other occupying countries maybe it’s a better behaviour, but again, it’s not enough.
“I don’t look outside in the world and say, ‘Oh, we are better than those or those.’ I want to compare my behaviour according to my commandments, according to my faith. So it’s my responsibility.
“It’s my people. So I am much more engaged in the struggle than I would be in another country.
“Long ago we came to understand that we don’t have the ability to stop the occupation. We are a group of Rabbis. We do not belong to any political party.
“But we are struggling against the brutalisation of human rights in the West Bank and in Israel.”

Daniel Sherman, Strategic Consultant
“When I look at the next generation and I see young people, people who are idealistic, and engaged, and talented, and capable of doing tremendous things.
“They have good values and good heads on their shoulders.
“While I wish I was leaving them a better situation, I’m quite confident they have the tools and abilities and imagination and desire to do better. And I’m proud of that.
I think anyone who wants to see the world as black and white here is really missing the fact there are many different shades and in those shades, within those different gradations, there is a tremendous space for imagination and creativity and for people with will.
“And I believe this next generation has that, to move forward into a better place. So that’s something I’m very proud of.”

Prayers of Intercession
After each response there is a moment of silence, whilst one candle is lit from the central candle.

God of peace, encourage those who seek to establish a fair and just peace in the Middle East. Bless their efforts as they work to end conflict.  Lead those who engage in violence to put down their weapons and to live in peace with one another.
God, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

God of justice, bless those who work for peace through justice. Strengthen their resolve in the face of seemingly endless violence. Guide the leaders of the peoples of the Middle East to know your will and to support a just peace for all of your children. God of love, lifting up the holy land for all humankind, breathe love and compassion into our prayers with a desire for nothing other than peace: peace in our hearts, peace for all creation, and especially peace in the land that is called holy.
God, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

God of mercy, even as we long to understand that which is often beyond our comprehension, we lay before you the hearts, minds and bodies of all those suffering from conflict in Palestine and Israel and from the ongoing occupation. Shower upon all the people of the Holy Land the spirit of justice and reconciliation.
God, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

God of the nations, give to all our people the blessings of well-being, freedom, and harmony, and, above all things, give us faith in you that we may be strengthened to care for all those in need until the coming of your son, our Saviour and Lord.
God, in your mercy: hear our prayer.
From ACT Palestine

We pray for the torn and divided peoples of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq; for refugees and uprooted families; for all living in camps and for those who assist them, and for all who have been bereaved, injured and traumatized.
God, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Especially at this time, we pray for all who suffer in the continuing misery of conflict and attack. We pray for Israelis living with the threat of rocket fire, for Palestinians in the West Bank subjected to the violation of their civil liberties and human rights and living under the constraints of military occupation and settler harassment. We pray for the people of Gaza, living under the threat of bombardment, adding fear to the misery of poverty and want.
God, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

In particular we pray for children and young people caught up in terror beyond their understanding or control. We pray for those who have been killed, maimed, bereaved; those who have had their future torn away from them; those whose lives are bleak, lacking opportunity, mobility and hope.
God, in your mercy: hear our prayer.

We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, our peace and our hope.

Silence, after which
May our silence speak the peace of God;
May our silence sing the peace of God;
May our silence bring about the peace of God.

Lord Jesus, when you walked the streets of Palestine, you knew what it was like to live under occupation. You cared for soldier and civilian alike. You walked the extra mile in the example you gave of love in action, even across the divisions of your time. We pray today for the people of the Holy Land, Israeli and Palestinian, Jew, Muslim, Druze and Christian. In this rich and diverse population there is so much fear, so much suspicion, so much hatred, so much injustice, so much history and so much division. Inspire your people today with that same love you showed so long ago and that same quest for justice – that we may overcome the failings of the past and enable a new community to grow where all the children of Abraham may live in peace with one another, in mutual respect. May all the people of this land turn away from violence and hatred, learn anew how to respect each other, and find that true Shalom where every person is valued, every right respected and every dream cherished. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, who proclaimed blessed are the peacemakers, in every age. Amen.
Rev John Howard, the Methodist Church in Britain and until recently Methodist Liaison in Israel and Palestine.

We sing your praise, eternal God,
To whom all praise belongs;
But we can never match your love,
However loud our songs:

Your love which comes so silently,
Through all the noise we hear;
The noise of quarrelling and war,
The cries of grief and fear.

The winds of doubt uproot our faith,
The earthquakes of despair
Destroy our hope, and fires of hate
Kill love and stifle prayer.

And yet no sound on earth can drown
The silence we have heard;
The voice of your eternal love;
The silence of your Word.

It comes to guilty, broken hearts,
With challenge and release;
Prepares us for self-sacrifice
And speaks eternal peace.
Alan Gaunt (born 1935) © 1991 Stainer & Bell Ltd

Closing Responses
Pray not for Arab or Jew,
for Palestinian or Israeli,
but pray rather for ourselves,
that we might not
divide them in our prayers
but keep them both together
in our hearts.

When races fight: peace be amongst us.
When neighbours argue: peace be amongst us.
When nations disagree: peace be amongst us.
Where people struggle for justice: let justice prevail.
Where Christ’ disciples follow: let peace be our way. Amen.

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