September 21st is the United Nations International Day for Peace. Most of us would agree that peace is a worthwhile goal--but how we are to achieve it, what each of us is willing to give up in the process, where we draw the lines in terms of our respective rights and responsibilities--well, that is the source of much debate and the genesis of bitter division. Take for instance, the current firestorm around the proposed mosque and community center in Lower Manhattan...or any other of a million conflicts or eruptions of violence around the world--and the goal of peace can seem far off, indeed.
This UN International Day for Peace is a call for all of us to focus or re-focus on the goal. By making a concentrated effort to think peace, to act peacefully, and yes, to pray for peace--across diverse faith and wisdom traditions--we can come just a little closer to making peace a reality. Prayer or a moment of silence for peace is not as passive as one might think. Quieting the chatter with we are constantly bombarded, even for a minute, requires courage. We never know what we will discover in the space we create or how such openness will motivate us to change. Just as negativity and divisiveness breed more of the same; a collective consciousness for peace can begin to make a qualitative difference in our world. Following are just a few examples of interfaith prayers for peace that speak to the shared longing of the human heart, whatever faith a person might profess.
Hinduism: The Supreme is perfect and complete and all emanations from the Supreme, including this world and all living beings are perfect and complete...may we always strive to see one another as God sees us--as perfect and complete.
Buddhism: May all beings be peaceful, May all beings be happy, May all beings be safe, May all beings awaken to the light of their true nature, May all beings be free.
Judaism: Grant universal peace, Oh God, with happiness and blessing, grace love and mercy ...you have given us a guide to a life of caring, filled with generosity and contentment, kindness and well-being...may it please you to bless all your people in every season and at all times with your peace.
Christianity: Soothing the conflicting shadows of our own soul, may we know peace; Loving our neighbors as ourselves, may we do peace; Vanquishing our hatred of difference, may we learn peace; Confronting injustice and indifference, may we teach peace; Serving God may we find peace ...and live in peace together.
Islam: May God's peace and mercy and blessings be upon you. Oh God, from you comes peace. You are peace. Spread peace through your greatness and vastness.
For the full text of these prayers and more, visit www.fellowshipinprayer.org and click on "View Prayers for Peace" on the homepage.
There are many ways you can promote peace on this UN International Day for Peace. Please consider signing the million minutes for peace pledge at Odyssey Network's www.amillionminutesforpeace.org. You will then become part of a global initiative uniting people of different faiths in a minute of prayer for peace at noon on Tuesday, September 21st. Fellowship In Prayer, founded on the principle that multi-faith spiritual practice opens paths to peace, is working in partnership with other organizations in the Princeton, New Jersey area to bring the community together. Remember this simple and universal prayer for peace, "May peace prevail on earth." But praying it is not for the faint-hearted. With it comes a commitment to do everything in our power to make it so.