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This is a small selection of the prayers offered at the Interfaith Prayer Hour at Hove Methodist Church between August 2017 and July 2018 (those that were shared in a form in which we could record them.) Many spontaneous prayers were offered verbally and not recorded.
Therefore we hope
that once upon a time to come
You, O beautiful and terrible, will fill our eyes.
We will see we have made gods
of things as dead as logs.
Then, laughing at our blunder, we will chop
them into kindling size,
fire them and warm cold hearts around the blaze.
Cruelty will turn away from pain,
greed will be sated, arrogance abashed
and hate will drown in tears of tenderness.
Then we will hold our breath (which comes from You)
and set to mend the broken world
to tend the wounded world.
We will know that whenever we have turned
Like a flower to the light,
all the time we were turning to You.
We will hear that all the names
we had for Maker, Saver, Lover, Source
were one name.
All along we were calling You.
Soon and forever we will know your name and remember Your voice
surprised by recognition
as a homecoming having been long away.
We will blink into the light
and live happily ever and ever after, l’olam va’ed.
By Claudia Gould
This prayer, from the Baha’i scriptures, was contributed by Ramez Salmanpour on 2 Aug 2017
O my God! O my God! Verily, I invoke Thee and supplicate before Thy threshold, asking Thee that all Thy mercies may descend upon these souls. Specialize them for Thy favor and Thy truth.
O Lord! Unite and bind together the hearts, join in accord all the souls, and exhilarate the spirits through the signs of Thy sanctity and oneness. O Lord! Make these faces radiant through the light of Thy oneness. Strengthen the loins of Thy servants in the service of Thy kingdom.
O Lord, Thou possessor of infinite mercy! O Lord of forgiveness and pardon! Forgive our sins, pardon our shortcomings, and cause us to turn to the kingdom of Thy clemency, invoking the kingdom of might and power, humble at Thy shrine and submissive before the glory of Thine evidences.
O Lord God! Make us as waves of the sea, as flowers of the garden, united, agreed through the bounties of Thy love. O Lord! Dilate the breasts through the signs of Thy oneness, and make all mankind as stars shining from the same height of glory, as perfect fruits growing upon Thy tree of life.
Verily, Thou art the Almighty, the Self-Subsistent, the Giver, the Forgiving, the Pardoner, the Omniscient, the One Creator.
God of All
When we try to define you, to describe you, we learn that language is limited.
But Love knows no limits.
With forgiveness and courage may we seek to love one another, to treat others and ourselves with compassion and respect.
And may we seek to know you, God of All.
In moments of joy and sorrow,
in moments of pain and pleasure,
in moments of fear and hope,
and in the ordinary moments of each day.
And may we know our place.
not grand and all-powerful,
not small and meaningless,
but dignified and free
each of us with our own power
in the spacious gift of your holding,
held in the grace of life itself.
(Prayer by Jef Jones, Lay Pastor, Brighton Unitarian Church)
Glory be to Thee, O God, for Thy manifestation of love to mankind! O Thou Who art our Life and Light, guide Thy servants in Thy way, and make us rich in Thee and free from all save Thee. O God, teach us Thy Oneness and give us a realization of Thy Unity, that we may see no one save Thee. Thou art the Merciful and the Giver of bounty. O God, create in the hearts of Thy beloved the fire of Thy love, that it may consume the thought of everything save Thee. Reveal to us, O God, Thine exalted eternity – that Thou hast ever been and wilt ever be, and that there is no God save Thee. Verily, in Thee will we find comfort and strength.
O my God! O my God! Unite the hearts of Thy servants, and reveal to them Thy great purpose. May they follow Thy commandments and abide in Thy law. Help them, O God, in their endeavor, and grant them strength to serve Thee. O God! Leave them not to themselves, but guide their steps by the light of Thy knowledge, and cheer their hearts by Thy love. Verily, Thou art their Helper and their Lord. Bahá’u’lláh
The ‘Prayer of St Francis’ was contributed by Rev Andy Lowe of Hove Methodist Church on
4 October 2017
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
This prayer was contributed by Jonathan Gravestock of Hove Methodist Church on 2 November 2017
This prayer, from a Jewish prayer book, was contributed by David Selo of B&H Progressive Synagogue on 2 November 2017
Along with the endangered owls
and the snow leopards at risk of extinction
and the dying colours of so many species of butterfly,
add this: the gold-winged human soul.
We have forgotten who we are.
We have become estranged from the movements of the earth.
We have turned our backs on the cycles of life.
We have sought only our own security.
We have exploited simply for our own ends.
We have distorted our knowledge.
We have abused our power.
Now the land is barren
And the waters are poisoned
And the air is polluted.
Now forests are dying
and the creatures are disappearing
And humans are despairing.
We ask forgiveness.
We ask for the gift of remembering.
We ask for the strength to change.
For it is not yet too late. There is, please God, still time to learn the simple truth:
One glorious chain of love, of giving and receiving, unites all creatures; none is by or for itself, but all things exist in continual reciprocal activity – one for all, and all for one.
This prayer, from a book of Baha’i prayers, was contributed by Brenda Clark on 2 November 2017
O Thou kind Lord! Thou hast created all humanity from the same stock. Thou hast decreed that all shall belong to the same household. In Thy Holy Presence they are all Thy servants, and all mankind are sheltered beneath Thy Tabernacle; all have gathered together at Thy Table of Bounty; all are illumined through the light of Thy Providence.
O God! Thou art kind to all, Thou hast provided for all, dost shelter all, conferrest life upon all. Thou has endowed each and all with talents and faculties, and all are submerged in the Ocean of Thy Mercy.
O Thou kind Lord! Unite all. Let the religions agree and make the nations one, so that they may see each other as one family and the whole earth as one home. May they all live together in perfect harmony.
O God! Raise aloft the banner of the oneness of mankind.
O God! Establish the Most Great Peace.
Cement Thou, O God, the hearts together.
O Thou kind Father God! Gladden our hearts through the fragrance of Thy Love. Brighten our eyes through the Light of Thy Guidance. Delight our ears with the melody of Thy Word, and shelter us all in the Stronghold of Thy Providence.
Thou art the Mighty and Powerful, Thou art the Forgiving and Thou art the One Who overlooketh the shortcomings of all mankind.
This prayer was contributed by Charlotte Gravestock of Hove Methodist Church on 2 November 2017
This ‘motivation prayer’ was contributed by Liz Stead of the Maitrikara Buddhist community on 6 December 2017
May all beings have happiness and the cause of happiness;
May they be free from suffering and the cause of suffering;
May they never separate from the sublime happiness which is without suffering;
May they be free from attachment to loved ones and rejection of others
And rest in boundless equanimity.
This prayer from The Prayer Book of the New Heart, Liberal Judaism, with the following reflection, was contributed by Felice Rhiannon, One Spirit Interfaith Foundation, on 6 December 2017
May it be Your will, O Eternal One, that war and bloodshed shall vanish from the earth, and that a great and glorious peace may reign forever in the world. Let every human being realise and understand the basic truth, that we have not been created for strife and discord, or hatred and envy, but only so that we may come to know You to whom all praise is due for ever.
It is not enough to prayfor peace. We have to workfor it: to challenge those who foster conflict and refute their propaganda; to ascertain and make known the truth, both when it confirms and when it runs counter to conventional views; to denounce injustice, not only when it is committed against us but also when it is committed against others; to defend human rights, not only our own but also theirs; to insist that peace requires sacrifice–of pride, or wealth, or territory; to practise and promote the way of moderation, compromise, and reconciliation; to build bridges of respect and understanding, trust and friendship, across the chasms that divide humanity.
This Prayer for Peace, from Siddur Kol haNeshamah, attributed to Nahman of Bretzlav, was contributed by Rabbi Andrea Zanardo of Brighton & Hove Reform Synagogue on 3 January 2018.
May it be your will, Eternal One, our God, God of our ancestors, that wars and bloodshed be abolished from the world, and bring into the world a great and wonderful and lasting peace. “And let no nation lift a sword against a nation – let them learn no more the ways of war!” (Isaiah 2:4)
Let all who dwell on earth simply acknowledge the truth of truths: that we have not come into this world for the sake of quarrelling and war, nor for the sake of hatred, jealousy, anger or bloodshed; rather, we have come into this world only to know You – may You be blessed eternally!
Therefore, have mercy on us, and fulfil among us what is written in your Scripture: ‘I shall give peace upon the earth, and you shall lie down with none to make you afraid. I shall abolish from the earth the predatory beast. The sword shall never come upon your land’ (Leviticus 26:6). ‘Justice shall roll down like the water, and righteousness like a mighty stream’ (Amos 5:24). ‘For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of The Omnipresent, as the waters fill the seas’ (Isaiah 11:9).
This prayer was contributed by Rev Anthea Ballam of One Spirit Interfaith Foundation and Brighton Unitarian Church on 3 January 2018
You are in me
And above me,
You are below me
And beside me.
You created worlds within worlds,
Gifts beyond understanding
Beauty beyond measure
Captured in a sphere of perfect blue.
And so we bow to you…
Call upon angels and spirits
In the leaves and born on the air
To give us strength
That we may share,
In worship and wisdom this day
Let’s join in mind, and spirit
In prayer and love to bring healing
To this most beautiful of worlds
For when this world suffers, we suffer
For we are all as one.
An Angel Prayer for ourselves:
Angel of God from heaven, God has sent you to take care of me. I ask that you shelter me under your wings. Lighten my path, direct my steps. Do not leave me, stay quite near me and defend me against the spirit of evil. But above all come to my help in the last struggle of my life. Deliver my soul so that I can praise, love and contemplate the goodness of God forever and ever. Amen.
An Angel Prayer for others:
Guardian Angel, watch over those whose names you can read in my heart. Guard over them with every care and make their way easy and their labours fruitful. Dry their tears if they weep; sanctify their joys; raise their courage if they weaken; restore their hope if they lose heart, their health if they be ill, truth if they err, repentance if they fail.
Eternal God, our Creator and Liberator, we pause to remember Your children across the world whose lives are blighted by the curses of poverty and persecution.
We think of the many millions in flight from tyranny, violence and destitution, risking their lives as they make their escape in the hope of finding refuge and security elsewhere.
In particular, our thoughts turn at this time to the 650,000 Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar, who have been driven from their homes, and had their villages burnt to the ground, as part of a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing.
Let us pause to reflect.
Eternal Teacher of Your people Israel, as the children and grandchildren and descendants of refugees, aware of Your teachings of justice and our sacred obligations towards the stranger, we express our commitment before You now to open our hearts and our hands and our communities to welcome those in need of refuge, and to do what we can to contribute to the alleviation of their suffering. And let us say: Amen.
The following 2 prayers were contributed by Rev Anthea Ballam of One Spirit Interfaith Foundation on 7 March 2018.
I summon you to a desolate place –
Home to a lonely, aging soul –
Washed up on the shores of time;
Poor as a church mouse
Grey as a ghost
Sadder than sorrow.
Bring him gentle company
Kindness, and the warmth of your love.
I summon you to a heartbroken child
Died in conflict
Alone, she sits by the roadside
Clutching her only toy
Sadder than sorrow.
Bring her compassion
And the loving glow of your embrace.
I summon you to our ailing earth
Strafed by war
Burnt, polluted, contaminated….
Change the hearts of those
Who brought sorrow to our home
Carry wisdom on the wings
Of infinite compassion….
So that we may live to witness
The miracle of healing
And the power of your unconditional love.
As the fever of day calms towards twilight
May all that is strained in us come to ease.
We pray for all who suffered violence today,
May an unexpected serenity surprise them.
For those who risk their lives each day for peace,
May their hearts glimpse providence at the heart of history.
That those who make riches from violence and war
Might hear in their dreams the cries of the lost.
That we might see through our fear of each other
A new vision to heal our fatal attraction to aggression.
That those who enjoy the privilege of peace
Might not forget their tormented brothers and sisters.
That the wolf might lie down with the lamb,
That our swords be beaten into ploughshares
And no hurt or harm be done
Anywhere along the holy mountain.
(From Benedictus, John O’Donohue)
O is the difference between God and Good;
Regarding belief, between ‘cannot’, or ‘could’.
God is unknowable, Goodness is known.
God may be loving, yet Goodness is shown.
God is unchanging, yet Goodness can grow.
God isn’t seen, although Goodness may show.
God seems so distant, yet Goodness is near.
God can seem scary, yet Goodness kills fear.
God may direct us, yet Goodness just calls;
God’s our ‘creator’, yet Goodness stops falls.
God is our image, yet Goodness is real.
God may seem virtual, Goodness we feel.
God in three persons, or Goodness is one?
God’s power omnipotent, Goodness is done.
God can be outraged, whilst Goodness ends strife.
God is good spirit, the Goodness of life.
God is the Word, whilst Goodness is the Way.
God is eternal, Goodness here to stay.
Is O for omega, brought to an end;
or is O a circle, an endless bend?
O makes the difference between curse and course,
O makes god known, as the true and good, force.
Great Spirit. Wherever, whatever you are, You are sacred to me.
You remind me to bring the best of myself into this life
and inspire me with a sense of the mystery beyond.
You nourish me.
You fill me with your presence.
Please forgive my wrongdoings,
And remind me to forgive those who hurt me.
Help me not to be drawn into negative behaviour and patterns,
Or into words and actions that are wrong.
You are everything.
The mystery, the truth, the love.
For ever and ever.
A prayer for us all: Don’t walk in front of me, I might not want to follow. Don’t walk behind me, I might not want to lead. Just walk alongside me and be my friend.
Prayer was contributed by Charlotte Gravestock of Hove Methodist Church on 4 April 2018
“Discussing with friends about Jesus’ two commandments ‘To love God with all your heart and
to love your neighbour as yourself’, and agreeing that they are an excellent guide for life, I
know that many other faiths have something similar in their philosophy. However, it made me
think that the difficulty in the world today is that so few people love themselves and so they
find it difficult to love others. Many people have not known love; they have not received love, so don’t know how to love. My prayer is that we, who know what love is, express it
whenever and wherever we can, that we demonstrate what love is to everyone we meet.”
This prayer, written by Rabbi Elli Sarah of Brighton & Hove Progressive Synagogue, was read by a member of her congregation, David Selo, on 2 May 2018.
A PRAYER FOR PEACE
BETWEEN ISRAELIS AND PALESTINIANS
As the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians continues to rage decade after decade, to pray for peace seems a hopeless and naïve folly. And yet, in this year that marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel, it is more urgent than ever that a just and peaceful resolution is achieved that acknowledges the needs of both peoples for sovereignty and security. And so we pray:
El Malei Rachamim, God Full of Compassion, who heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds, we ask You to show all Your children the way of love and compassion, so that hatred ceases to scar their lives.
Ein Ha-Chayyim, Source of Life, we call upon You to send Your abundant blessings into every home, Israeli and Palestinian, so that new hope may overcome old fears.
Adonai Tzadik, Righteous One, who exhorts us to pursue Justice, we fervently pray that a spirit of righteousness may prevail, so that both peoples find the courage to reach a just settlement of their differences.
Oseh Shalom, Maker of Peace, who teaches us to be seekers of peace, we entreat You now to spread Your tabernacle of shalom–salaamover all the inhabitants of Your land, and to support the peacemakers among both peoples in their efforts to walk the path of reconciliation, so that a just peace may reign supreme at last – bimheirah b’yameinu, speedily in our own day.
And let us say: Amen.
Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah
Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue
This prayer was contributed by Lauren of Ditchling and Brighton Unitarians on 2 May 2018
Infinite One who fills the universe with Your unsearchable presence, and has a dwelling-place in every heart that trusts in You: I come now in a spirit of thanksgiving, and I would commune with You in prayer that I may learn to live in Your constant presence. Indeed, may I learn to pray as I ought in spirit and in truth.
(James Martineau, 1805 – 1900. This English philosopher and Unitarian minister exercised extraordinary influence as a preacher, writer and educator, whose works included not only ‘The Seat of Authority in Religion’ but ‘Home Prayers’)
These quotes from Sir Nicholas Winton were contributed by David Selo of Brighton & Hove Progressive Synagogue on 2 May 2018. David owes his life to Nicholas Winton as his mother and her sister were both saved by the ‘Kindertransport’ arranged by Sir Nicholas. He died in 2015 aged 106, and this month we remember the Memorial Service for him which took place in May 2016.
‘The spirit of compromise is exactly what we need to embrace if we’re ever to secure a peaceful future for the world. But we continue to concentrate on what divides us instead of what unites us.’
‘Remembering is not enough, it has to be the right sort of remembering. Don’t forget a lot of trouble has been caused in the world by people remembering other people as their enemies. Films and documentaries about the Holocaust have not prevented further atrocities taking place….If people live by the fundamental principles of all world religions then the fact that they can kill each other over how they praise God is ludicrous.’
‘Active goodness is the giving of one’s time and energy in the alleviation of pain and suffering rather than the passive goodness of simply doing no wrong.’
This prayer was contributed by Mark Habibi of Brighton Bahá’í Community on 2 May 2018
(Mark began by referring to the great souls from many religions of the world who have provided divine light for our human pathways.)
O inmates of the holy sanctuary!
I swear by God! He in very truth is the Sanctuary of God amongst you and His sacred Precinct in your midst, the holy Site of the Spirit before your eyes and the Station of both inner and outer peace and security. Take heed lest ye deprive yourselves of the Sanctuary of His knowledge. Hasten unto Him and tarry not. This is that Sanctuary round which circle the Manifestations of the Divine Being and the Embodiments of His eternal Reality, and whose court God hath hallowed beyond the reach of the outcast and the ungodly. This, verily, is that Sanctuary, the blessing of whose service is sought by the Maids of Heaven, and them that dwell in the depths of the Most Great Ocean, and them that abide in the habitation of holiness and the realm of reunion – and yet the people, for the most part, comprehend not.
Surat al-Qalam (The Surah of the Pen),Bahá’u’llah
The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established. This unity can never be achieved so long as the counsels which the Pen of the Most High hath revealed are suffered to pass unheeded.
When you lose someone you love,
Your life becomes strange,
The ground beneath you becomes fragile,
Your thoughts make your eyes unsure;
And some dead echo drags your voice down
Where words have no confidence
Your heart has grown heavy with loss;
And though this loss has wounded others too,
No one knows what has been taken from you
When the silence of absence deepens.
Flickers of guilt kindle regret
For all that was left unsaid or undone.
There are days when you wake up happy;
Again inside the fullness of life,
Until the moment breaks
And you are thrown back
Onto the black tide of loss.
Days when you have your heart back,
You are able to function well
Until in the middle of work or encounter,
Suddenly with no warning,
You are ambushed by grief.
It becomes hard to trust yourself.
All you can depend on now is that
Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.
More than you, it knows its way
And will find the right time
To pull and pull the rope of grief
Until that coiled hill of tears
Has reduced to its last drop.
Gradually, you will learn acquaintance
With the invisible form of your departed;
And when the work of grief is done,
The wound of loss will heal
And you will have learned
To wean your eyes
From that gap in the air
And be able to enter the hearth
In your soul where your loved one
Has awaited your return
All the time.
This prayer was contributed by Ann Woodhead of Brighton Unitarians on 6 June 2018
May our eyes remain open even in the face of tragedy.
May we not become disheartened.
Maywe find in the dissolution of our apathy and denial
the cup of the broken heart.
May we discover the gift of the fire burning
in the inner chamber of our being –
burning great and bright enough to transform any poison.
May we offer the power of our sorrow to the service
of something greater than ourselves.
May our guilt not rise up to form yet another defensive wall.
May the suffering purify and not paralyze us.
May we realize the greatness of our sorrow
and not run from its touch or flame.
May clarity be our ally and wisdom our support.
May our wrath be cleansing, cutting through
the confusion of denial and greed.
May we not be afraid to see or speak our truth.
May the bleakness of the wasteland be dispelled.
May the soul’s journey be revealed and the true hunger fed.
May we be forgiven for what we have forgotten
and blessed with the remembrance of who we really are.
~ The Terma Collective
This prayer was contributed by Rabbi Elli Sarah of Brighton & Hove Progressive Synagogue and read by Charlotte Gravestock on 4 July 2018 to conclude the 12 month cycle at Hove Methodist Church.
AL KEIN – AND THEN…
And then all that has divided us will merge
And then compassion will be wedded to power
And then softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind
And then both men and women will be gentle
And then both women and men will be strong
And then no person will be subject to another’s will
And then all will be rich and free and varied
And then the greed of some will give way to the needs of many
And then all will share equally in the Earth’s abundance
And then all will care for the sick and the weak and the old
And then all will nourish the young
And then all will cherish life’s creatures
And then everywhere will be called Eden once again
‘Merger’ poem, Copyright Judy Chicago, 1979.