We Have Voices: Praying together for peace, justice and change

The Revd Barbara Glasson, editor of the new book from Methodist Publishing We Have Voices, considers how we pray for justice and peace.

We have voices - praying together for peace, justice and change

Christian longing for justice is both a future hope and a current, collective responsibility. During conversations about justice-seeking, it became clear of the need and longing to pray for justice but how difficult this can sometimes be in public worship. This book offers preachers and leaders of worship the words and structure to pray, with the range of prayers and contributors showing the different ways we can lead prayer, and with the hope this will help people to grow confidence in praying for justice and peace.

Few people would think that justice and peace were bad things but the way they can be realised often feels elusive. For people of faith, the quest for peace and justice is at the heart of belief – and for Christians they are the pivotal point of the kingdom that Jesus both embodies and calls us towards.

"For people of faith, the quest for peace and justice is at the heart of belief"

Church prayers can often sound like shopping lists of things for which we aspire but sense are beyond us – an end to war, environmental sustainability, an equalising of economic status or educational opportunities. But faith is not about wishful thinking or handing over responsibility to God for the things we feel we cannot grasp. Prayer is about the transformational hope that the vision of God’s kingdom is not only a future goal but also a present possibility.

Thankfully, prayer is both an individual and a collective imperative and we are not alone in our quest for a more just and peaceful world. Christians are called to be part of communities in which we can both voice our longings and be stirred up to be activists for change.

The Methodist Church has always had a prayerful and pragmatic attitude to its life as part of the Christian family. From the life of John, Charles and Susannah Wesley, through the preachers and leaders of those early chapels and classes, the radical witness of the Tolpuddle Martyrs, the pacifist stance of conscientious objectors, the anti-apartheid movement right up to the present day where Methodists are seen both protesting in public and with their sleeves rolled up delivering support to vulnerable people in local communities across the world. Through the centuries Methodists, with many other ecumenical partners, have been committed to international and community justice, both locally, politically and internationally. It is a proud heritage!

But we know, this is not ‘job done’. There are still acute injustices across our communities and across the world. There is still an imperative to call out injustice and violence wherever it diminishes human life. This is why the new publication for prayer is called We have voices We are not powerless or helpless – but we need courage and fortitude to keep praying together for a more just and peaceful world.

We Have Voices offers prayers serving as a powerful call to action. They speak to many challenging issues of our times: racial tension, violence, marginalisation and hunger. The book comprises four sections offering a liturgical structure with prayers for Lament, Solidarity, Courage and Sending. They help us cry out against injustice; aid us in speaking for and with others; allow us to complain at God and confide in God and propel us to speak truth to power.

This book offers a harvest of prayers from people who speak from many different contexts and experiences. The language is sometime forthright and angry, sometimes sorrowful and hopeful. It is a book that intends to remind us at every turn that we need to place peace and justice at the heart of our communal worship. Whilst it is commissioned and published by the Methodist Church in Britain, it contains the voices of many from around the world and is intended for people of any theological position who long to follow the radical path of Jesus. It is a book to stir us up and move us on so that we no longer remain silent when people are suffering.

This is a book to challenge and inspire preachers, leaders and ordinary folk to raise our voices together and to pray that the kingdom of justice and peace will come!

We have voices

Available from Methodist Publishing

A book of prayers on peace and justice for anyone leading public worship, collective or group prayers, services and reflections.