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Prayer Service: In Our Fight for Equity and Justice

 

Opening prayer

Good and gracious God, through your Son’s words you commanded us to be lamps shining on a stand, not under a bowl or a bed. Grant that our words and actions be always an evident manifestation of your light. You promised to those who hunger and thirst for justice that they will be filled. Give us the strength to commit to personal change and discover our own biases, so that we can see everyone with the same eyes your Son saw all those around him. We want to create access for those who lack it and change structures of inequity. Strengthen us and be our refuge in this quest.

This we pray: AMEN

Introduction

Change is a commitment that pertains to both the personal and systemic levels. Let us find the strength to commit ourselves to improve the conditions of those who share this world with us, particularly those who find themselves excluded or under the threat of erasure and exclusion. 

Prayer for Personal Change

Let us pray for real change in our hearts and minds. God, give us light and strength to:

  • Be humble and have the courage to recognize our own biases and take concrete steps to change them.
  • Find tangible means to grow as your disciples and expand the incomplete ways in which we see our fellow human beings and your creation.
  • Listen to others with attention and grace, particularly when they do not agree with us or we see them as different from us.
  • Realize that the road for personal change ends only after we leave this world.
  • Recognize that we need your grace for real change to happen in our hearts.
  • Open our eyes to identify the many ways in which our world has created barriers for certain groups and individuals to access the full degree of opportunities that our societies offer.

Response: We ask you, Lord, to remove our hearts of stone and give us hearts of flesh. 

Reading: Matthew 2: 9-14

“After [the Magi] had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’ And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”” 

Prayer for Systemic, Institutional and Societal Change

Dear God, your Son was a victim of exclusion. When he was a child, his parents had to flee their country to protect him from persecution and violence. Bless the lives of so many parents, children and individuals who are escaping hostile environments that they did not choose or create. Accompany them in their journeys, and show us ways to tend to their lives and respond to their concerns, hopes and needs. 

We also pray for the leaders of our nations and the institutions that we belong to. We ask that you open the eyes of our leaders to the concerns and needs to those who suffer because of their precarious positions in our society. 

We also ask you that you grant us the ability to:

  • Identify and combat all forms of exclusion, particularly of those that target the most vulnerable members of our society.
  • Find ways to make visible the concerns of those members of our community who live in precarious conditions, so that their needs are met and they can achieve their full potential.
  • Work in our local communities to find concrete ways to be vehicles of change.
  • Be a light for others in their quest to understand the effects of systemic exclusion, violence and persecution.
  • Be humble, courageous and insistent in our commitment to be agents of change in our local and global communities.
  • As you protected your son and called him out of Egypt, grant us clarity to identify the new locations of violence and exclusion and give us the strength to commit to change them into spaces of peace, security and prosperity.

Response: We ask you, Lord, that you remove our hearts of stone and give us hearts of flesh. 

Reflection Questions and Communal Sharing

  • What does individual change look like for me right now? 
  • In what ways can I be an agent of change in my local communities?
  • What kinds of inequities and exclusions are the most pressing for me right now? Why?
  • How can I work individually and with others to change these inequities?

Closing Prayer

As we come to you, dear God, asking for your support and strength in our commitment to personal and social change, we ask that you grant us the courage to look at ourselves with honesty. Give us the clarity to recognize those aspects of our lives that allow inequality and injustice to persist unchallenged in our society. Grant us the strength to make the appropriate changes in our lives, so that we can make your love and peace transparent in the places we inhabit. We ask that our efforts for individual, personal change bring justice in this world, at the institutional, local and global levels. 

Amen.

 

 

Prayer service by Dr. Julio Quintero, Associate Director, University of Dayton Office of Diversity and Inclusion

CONTACT

Campus Ministry's Center for Social Concern

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300 College Park Ave.
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 0408
937.229.2524
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