EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

June 10, 2014

Column: Don't just pray for peace; go make a difference

If you are a person who prays, I’ll bet you pray for peace. People of all faiths have been praying for peace for centuries, and yet there is no peace. What’s missing that keeps the prayers for peace from being answered?

I think I found what’s missing.

It’s a word from the fourth century A.D. that St. John Chrysostom actually gave away for nothing. Maybe those who heard him took it to heart for a while but they must not have acted on it or passed it on. Maybe he should have charged for it so people would know how valuable it was.

I won’t keep you waiting any longer. Are you ready? St. John’s word is … Sincerity.

Common, ordinary sincerity. Not a word to be added to one’s prayers, but a wholehearted, personal commitment backing them up.

According to St. John, “the test of the sincerity of our prayer is the willingness to labor on its behalf.”

Does St. John mean our prayers for peace are empty if we’re not working for peace? I think so.

When we pray for peace what do we expect God to do? It would be wonderful if peace was suddenly achieved everywhere in the world by divine intervention.

God doesn’t have any hands but our hands, or any voice but our voice. There is also the expression attributed to many - “No one can do everything but everyone can do something”.

Where to begin or continue? With ourselves. Here’s an exercise that environmental activist Joanna Rogers Macy recommends:

If you were fearless and in possession of all your powers, what would you do to heal the world?

What knowledge and skills do you have?

What do you need to learn?

What obstacles will you put in your way?

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