Perhaps the dream of the Daily Prayer for Peace was birthed as Wallace B. Smith prepared to share inspired counsel with the church in April 1984. Tucked into the momentous nature of Section 156 was a seed of peace that would take deep root in Community of Christ.
The temple shall be dedicated to the pursuit of peace. It shall be for reconciliation and for healing of the spirit.
It wasn’t until nearly a decade later, December 5, 1993, that the first prayer for peace was offered in the Temple Sanctuary in Independence, Missouri, USA. Since that moment, we have been praying for peace all over the world—in the Temple Sanctuary; our living rooms; in campgrounds and classrooms; at oceanside, mountainside, and the middle of woods.
When the COVID-19 pandemic brought a pause to the practice in its traditional form, people around the globe took up the prayers in their own nations and homes. They often shared online while gazing at the rhythm of the waves from French Polynesia or next to the fireplace in someone’s living room. The prayer in its current form occurs in people’s homes around the world and Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m. (Central Time) in the Meditation Chapel in the Temple, open to the public through the Center for Living Water.
Like us, the practice has shifted and changed throughout the years. But it also has remained one of our most consistent disciplines, forming us into a people of peace. It has become a habit integrated into most gatherings of Community of Christ. People of all ages light candles, ring chimes, and speak words of peace from the page and the heart that continue to shape us locally and globally.
In a recent Witness the Word sermon, Apostle Janné Grover (former prayer for peace coordinator) reflected on the meaning of this practice and where it is leading:
The importance of a daily practice of praying for peace is not in how, or where, or when we do it, but how that practice forms us as a global community in the pursuit of peace…a deepening of practice that helps us to see our true selves and this whole world as sacred space…as temple. To pray for peace is an inward and outward journey of transformation when we move beyond ourselves and into the lives of others. Our prayers for peace boldly name injustice and suffering and compel us toward compassionate action that reorders the world. In that way, our prayers for justice and peace are prophetic.
At the anniversary of the Daily Prayer for Peace in 2019, Presiding Evangelist Jane Gardner reflected that we:
…are influenced by the pattern of the Temple—moving inward through prayer and then spiraling outward like rivers of living water to work for peace. We have been learning, experimenting, and discerning what it means to be sanctuaries of Christ’s peace, grounded in the symbol of this building dedicated to peace, reconciliation, and healing of the spirit.
Wherever and however you have engaged the Prayer for Peace, we are invited to pause at this thirty-year anniversary and consider together the ways this powerful practice has transformed us and the world. We will use the rhythm of the prayers of the people as a guide, as adapted from a Prayer for Peace liturgy:
The Prayers of the People begin with individuals and groups, then move from this Temple of peace to include the human family and the planet.
How have we, over these past thirty years of praying for peace, been “transformed into the persons of peace and grace” we were created to be?
How has the Prayer for Peace brought to our awareness “those persons and relationships that are broken, and make us conscious of the need for reconciliation and forgiveness? How have we been agents of transformation for relationships of wholeness once again?
How has praying for peace opened us to feel God’s “love and concern for communities around the world, far and near?
How has this practice of praying for peace “stirred in us a deep connection with everything God has created, making us aware of the sacred nature of all that surrounds us and leading to deep reverence that cultivates nurturing actions?
May these prayers of concern, compassion, and transformation for ourselves, others, all people, and the Earth lead us into a world shaped by your unconditional love, O God. Amen.
As we reflect on the ways we are being shaped by the practice of praying for peace, there are several opportunities to commemorate this thirty-year anniversary.
- This December you will be invited to join at the Temple and online as we commemorate Thirty Years of Praying for Peace through a live-streamed experience in the Temple Sanctuary. (Keep an eye on e-news and social media for more information!)
- A Prayer for Peace resource, compiling prayers from the past thirty years, is being created. This will be a prayerbook and field guide for ongoing use of the Daily Prayer for Peace in homes, congregations, and communities of all kinds!
- You are invited to commit to the habit of praying for peace in your own life. Whether you follow the liturgy provided at CofChrist.org or simply commit to a peace pause each day, notice how your interactions transform over time as you join in this meaningful practice.
May we continue to be shaped by the dream of peace, God’s shalom for all creation. May our prayers for peace lead to compassionate actions in these difficult times, bringing reconciliation, healing, and wholeness for all creation. May our prayers become our lives and our lives be as prayer, embodying boldly the love and peace of Jesus Christ wherever we go.