Faith · prayer

Prayer for a Divided Country

… In the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in Thee to fail.

Book of Common Prayer, “For Our Country”

My heart caught in my throat when I saw the news yesterday afternoon. I couldn’t look away from those scenes I didn’t want to see.

Immediately I was back on September 11, 2001. Mid-morning that day, my brother had burst into our home saying, “Turn on the television!”

Over and over we watched planes crash into the World Trade Center. We watched chaos on the streets. Smoke. Confusion. Bodies falling. Then it would loop back again to planes hitting the towers. Our country was under attack.

I remember looking at my children watching the screen with big eyes and shooing them out of the room. Finally I shooed my brother out, too, and turned the television off.

But some things you can’t unsee.

I tried to fall asleep last night but the images of marauders scaling the wall to the Capitol Building kept playing through my mind. Their garish outfits, their over-sized flags, their fake patriotism. Ach — it was all too much.

Yesterday was a day of prayer for me. I fasted until 6 PM, praying often, especially when reminded by pangs of hunger. Around 3 PM, my words were gone, and I reached for Lancelot Andrewes to help me remember what words I should pray for my country.

In his prayer “For Our Country”, he says with, “Bless our ingathering, Make peace within our borders” — but peace doesn’t come without a cost.

Around the same time as 9/11, we had a terrible man as pastor of our church. He was divisive. He used the pulpit to bully and berate. I was called in for church discipline because, as chair of the Missions Committee, I questioned him, his motives, and his tactics. I’ll never forget sitting in his office for my “discipline” and watching him lean back in his chair and lace his fingers behind his head — the picture of pompous confidence — all the while saying untrue things. The Board of Elders sat by and said little to nothing.

Shortly after that — I think it was Palm Sunday — that pastor once again began making untrue divisive statements from the pulpit. This time the head of the elder board, a man named Zig, rose from his seat, pointed his finger at the pastor, and said, “You, sir, need to stop.”

Shouting ensued. I herded my children out of the sanctuary and into the nursery. I didn’t want to hear. I didn’t want my children to witness any of it. A sanctuary should be a sanctuary.

Zig passed away a few years ago but I thought about him a lot yesterday. He remains for me a picture of what it means to push back against a bully.

I spent time last evening intentionally reading posts of Facebook friends that I know to be Trump supporters. One by one, I prayed for them and then “snoozed” them. I ache for them, but I can’t fill my mind with their vitriol.

This morning I reached for The Preces Privitae of Lancelot Andrewes again and settled on this prayer — For Unity —

The Preces Privitae of Lancelot Andrewes, translated by F. E. Brightman

… If in anything we be otherwise minded,
to walk by the same rule whereto we have already attained:
To maintain order, decency, steadfastness…
With one mind and one mouth to glorify God.

Lord, our country is so divided. It will take a miracle to reunite us. I’m so glad You are a God who specializes in miracles. Amen.

6 thoughts on “Prayer for a Divided Country

  1. Your post really touched me. I’m having a difficult time finding any reason behind the actions taken yesterday. Sadly, while I watched the same scenes play out on tv over and over again, while deeply disturbed by what I saw, I was not surprised. And that made me sad. I’m hoping change is finally in the air.

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