A Prayer for the Oppressed

We have a prayer in the Book of Common Prayer titled “For the Oppressed”: 

Look with pity, O heavenly Father, upon the people in this land who live with injustice, terror, disease, and death as their constant companions. Have mercy upon us. Help us to eliminate our cruelty to these our neighbors. Strengthen those who spend their lives establishing equal protection of the law and fair opportunities for all. And grant that every one of us may enjoy a fair portion of the riches of this land; through Jesus Christ our Lord. (BCP, 826)

I have been omitting “in this land” in the first and final sentence, and praying this prayer often this weekend.

I have been praying for the Jewish people, particularly those in Israel, who have been so often oppressed by so many, for so many centuries, and who are currently experiencing atrocious and unimaginable violence by Hamas.  

I have been praying for the Palestinian people, who are oppressed both by their own leaders and by those who have dispossessed them of land and freedom for decades. 

I have been praying for Armenians in Azerbaijan who are an oppressed minority and are in the process of being dispossessed of their land just in these past weeks. 

I have been praying, on Indigenous People’s Day, for Native Americans, who were and are oppressed by loss of land, culture, and life. 

I have been praying for people of color in our nation, who are oppressed daily by racism that demeans, terrifies, incarcerates, and shortens lifespans. 

The violence in Israel and Gaza has been foremost in my heart and mind. Children and civilians killed; hostages taken; and the prospect of continued violence and escalation. The Psalms appointed for Morning Prayer on Tuesday, (120, 121, 122, and 123) brought me to tears. I prayed for the peace of Jerusalem. And the last verses of Psalm 120 particularly stayed with my heart as I prayed: “Too long have I had to live among the enemies of peace. I am on the side of peace, but when I speak of it, they are for war.” 

A letter from the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, including the Anglican Archbishop, Hosam Naoum, on the present situation from their perspective can be read here

Those who wish to donate to the American Friends of the Diocese of Jerusalem, which oversees a number of ministries in the Holy Land, including the Anglican hospital in Gaza, can do so here

One comment on “A Prayer for the Oppressed”

  1. Bishop Reddall, thank you for pointing out the prayer for the oppressed. I am inspired by your small changes to expand this prayer to our global realities. Your examples that follow are something I can incorporate in my daily prayer and expand on with my own hopes. I’m filled with gratitude for your leadership.