Give us, O God,
leaders whose hearts are large enough
to match the breadth of our own souls
and give us souls strong enough
to follow leaders of vision and wisdom.
In seeking a leader, let us seek
more than development for ourselves —
though development we hope for —
more than security for our own land —
though security we need —
more than satisfaction for our wants —
though many things we desire.
Give us the hearts to choose the leader
who will work with other leaders
to bring safety
to the whole world.
Give us leaders
who lead this nation to virtue
without seeking to impose our kind of virtue
on the virtue of others.
Give us a government
that provides for the advancement
of this country
without taking resources from others
to achieve it.
Give us insight enough ourselves
to choose as leaders those who can tell
strength from power,
growth from greed,
leadership from dominance,
and real greatness from the trappings of grandiosity.
We trust you, Great God,
to open our hearts to learn from those
to whom you speak in different tongues
and to respect the life and words
of those to whom you entrusted
the good of other parts of this globe.
We beg you, Great God,
give us the vision as a people
to know where global leadership truly lies,
to pursue it diligently,
to require it to protect human rights
for everyone everywhere.
We ask these things, Great God,
with minds open to your word
and hearts that trust in your eternal care.
— Joan Chittister, OSB
May love make a bridge from heart to heart, and hand to hand.
May love find a way when laws are blind, and freedom banned.
May love lift the hopes that force and fear have beaten down.
May love break the chains and give us strength to stand our ground.
May love make a bridge that winds may shake, yet not destroy.
May love carry faith through life and death to endless joy.
— adapted from Singing the Living Tradition by the Unitarian Universalist Association, as quoted in 365 Blessings to Heal Myself and the World by Pierre Pradervand
SOURCE OF ALL BLESSINGS,
you bless us with warning
voices — poets, prophets,
thinkers who dare to speak against
the current of accepted norms, to
question, at the risk of their good
standing, their careers, even their
lives. May I have ears to hear these
lonely voices of Common Sense,
so often nearly drowned out by the
din of public opinion, and to heed
them, take their message to heart,
weigh it, and let it change my life.
— David Steindl-Rast in 99 Blessings (Blessing #27)
Prayer for the Rulers of the Nations
Today, O God. I hold before you the rulers of the nations —
Kings, Queens, Presidents, Prime Ministers — all who
are in positions of supreme leadership.
I can be quick to criticize: help me, Lord to first enter
their dilemma. On most issues of state I have the luxury
of withholding judgment, of not committing myself,
of sitting on the fence. Even when I have an opinion,
it has little influence and seldom any consequence.
Not so with rulers of the nations.
To the extent that they really lead, they must
make decisions, even if they are poor ones.
Help these leaders, O God, in the loneliness of their decisions.
Put wise counselors around them.
Take, I pray, the bits and pieces of virtue that are
in each ruler and cause them to grow and mature.
And take all the destructive motives and cause
them to vanish like smoke in the wind.
Lord, I know that many — and perhaps most —
rulers do not know you, nor do they seek you.
But you seek them! Help them see how good right decisions are.
And where decisions must be made that are not in their
own interest, deepen their sense of duty. Having seen
the light, give them the courage to walk in the light.
— Richard J. Foster in Prayers from the Heart
A Prayer for Our Nation
May we as a nation be guided by the Divine
to rediscover the sacred flame of our national heritage,
which so many have given their lives to safeguard;
Let the wounds of separation and division be healed
by opening our hearts to listen to the truth on all sides,
allowing us to find a higher truth that includes all;
May we learn to honor and enjoy our diversity
and differences as a people, even as we
more deeply touch our fundamental unity;
May we, as a people, undergo a transformation
that will draw forth individuals to lead our nation
who embody courage, compassion, and a higher vision;
May our leaders inspire us, and we so inspire
each other with our potential as individuals
and as a nation, that a new spirit of forgiveness,
caring, and honesty be born in our nation;
May we, as a united people, move with clear,
directed purpose to take our place within
the community of nations to help build
a better future for all humankind;
May we as a nation rededicate ourselves
to truly living as one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
And may God's Will be done for the United States,
as we, the people, align with that Will.
— Corinne McLaughlin and Gordon Davidson in Prayers for Healing edited by Maggie Oman
A Prayer about Frustration with Politicians
"Desperate Prayer for Patience with Politicians with Excellent Suits and Shoes and Meticulous Hair and Gobs of Television Makeup Who Have Utterly Forgotten That Their Jobs Are Finally About Feeding and Clothing and Protecting and Schooling Children
"They are driving me stark muttering bubbling insane. They are nattering and preening. They are dissembling and speechifying. They are evading the question and mouthing empty slogans. They are attacking straw men of their own devising and calculating market share. Their words are wind and dust and meanwhile children starve and are raped and have no beds and teachers and doctors. They say they will do things and they do not do those things. They appeal to the worst in us so as to be able to make money. They send children to war though they have never been in war and do not know the savagery of what they are sending children to do. They abuse their power and sneer at the poor and condescend to the elderly and lie about their motivations and their biographies. They would happily soil every lake and river and pond and creek and rivulet with every imaginable searing death-dealing chemical if there was enough money in it for them. They would foul every square meter of air with choking smoke and ash if there was enough money in it for them. They do not care about our children and our children's children. They pose for photo opportunities on the way to church but they do not feed the hungry and clothe the naked and house the homeless and slake the thirst of those who are desperate. Dear sweet Lord. Give me the patience to be reasonable and call them calmly to account. Give them the startle of guilt and the ripple of shame. Make sore their consciences and shiver their arrogance so that they may puncture it themselves and so begin to achieve humility and be of actual honest genuine service to the least among us. This we pray, trying not to snarl overmuch. And so: amen."
— Brian Doyle in A Book of Uncommon Prayer
Prayer for Those in Statecraft and International Relations
Sovereign Lord, We pray for the people who are charged with
representing our nation as they bridge culture, race, and
religion to painstakingly negotiate terms of trade and forge
alliances of security. May they view their task as sacred
and be filled with hope, creativity, and endurance so that
the bonds they forge among nations may bring mutual benefit
and lasting peace.
Lord, help our leaders to look beyond grand palaces and
corporate offices to consider carefully the effects that the
policies they are creating will have on the humble homes of
average citizens. May America be girded by the spirit of
cooperation and generosity that recognizes the needs of others
alongside our own so that the entire world might enjoy a
common wealth of food, drink, shelter, education, and recreation.
Lord, may America not succumb to imperial temptations; rather,
through persons of character, remind us of our shared religious
heritage of servanthood. May we use our power in concert with
the international community so that we might together bring
in a new era marked by justice and peace.
— Paul Brandeis Raushenbush in Prayers for the New Social Awakening
A Blessing for Our Leaders
Eternal God, Fount of wisdom,
we ask you to bless the national leaders we have elected,
grant that through their discussions and decisions
we may solve our problems effectively,
enhance the well-being of our nation,
and achieve together a fairer and more united society.
— The New Zealand Prayer Book