A long list of past terrorist attacks by Muslims against the West is circulating these days. I’m reminded that there are extremists out there who consider the West their enemy, and I’m saddened by the righteous rage it incites in fellow American Christians. Powerless to stop the aggression or heal the anger, I turn to a familiar prayer:
Our Father, who art in heaven
We Muslims, Christians, and Jews claim the same God and Biblical history. O Father, please help to renew familial bonds, remind us of our common heritage. Help us bring the children of Israel and Ishmael together in peace.
Hallowed be thy name.
We have different names for you — Allah, Jehovah, God. Help us to invoke your name in prayers for healing and mutual understanding, rather than calls for victory and revenge.
Thy Kingdom come.
Our visions of your Kingdom are distorted through the lenses of our cultures, our spiritual leaders, our families, and our education. Help us to create a common vision of your Kingdom, and work together towards that goal, innovating for peace, rather than perpetuating violence.
Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
What is Thy will? Not that thousands should die. Not that millions should feel anger and despair. What is heaven on earth? Not the grief of the widowed, the poverty of the orphaned, the wreckage of bombs and body parts. Oh, please, let Thy will be done – not ours.
Give us this day, our daily bread.
How ironic that this prayer is said the world over, by those who earnestly pray for food to survive, and by those who are praying for nourishment beyond food, their basic needs well met. Help us to reach across the chasm between wealth and poverty, which feeds mutual distrust and disdain.
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
How can we forgive the violence wrought upon us? How can we forgive the spiritual leaders using your Word to divide us as peoples, rather than join us as Children of God? O Father, forgiveness is so difficult in the face of such atrocities. Please, help us to forgive.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Who can say what temptation leads each terrorist down the road to evil? A sure ticket into heaven would sorely tempt any of us believers, knowing our own personal sins and wickedness, only too ready to leave the agonies of mortal life behind. O Father, please help us in our weakness.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
It’s all about You. Some say that without religion, we wouldn’t have all this violence. No religion, no war. But violence and hatred always seem to find a new reason for being. O Lord, may our lives as believers shine brightly against the darkness of evil, examples of how faith in God can lead not to violence, but to peace.