Prayer at Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association “Law Day” banquet – May 1, 2013

by Phil Snider

I don’t tend to view prayer as some sort of magical transaction between us and some kind of magical Santa Claus type super being in the sky —– nor as an obligatory task at functions like these.

Instead, I view prayer as that which opens us to the other — whether that is another human being, or whether it is the dream of a better world, or a more fair world, to be born. For all of religion’s shortcoming’s and what can sometimes seem like its perpetual shortsightedness, religion, at its best, opens us to the needs of the other, to the needs of the world. Prayer is born out of a deep hoping and sighing and dreaming and weeping for a better world to be born, and this dream for a better world comes over our lives whether we believe in God or not. It’s in this spirit I invite you to open your hearts with me in prayer:

Gracious God, who transcends all religious affiliations and language and creeds, we open our hearts to your call upon our lives. Some of us pray in the name of Christ, while others of us might pray in the name of Allah, or in the name of Elohim, or in the name of the one who is beyond all naming, or in the name of the one of many names. Regardless of the name in which we pray, at this time we gather to express our hunger and longing for love and compassion to be experienced, for justice and peace to be realized.

For all of the times we fall short of love and compassion, we ask for a better world to be born. For all of the times our laws fall short of the claim that justice and peace have on our lives, we ask for a better world to born. For all of the times we are complicit with systems and structures that exploit rather than mend, we ask for a better world to be born. For all of the times we sanction systems and structures that fall short of human rights and dignity for all people, and thus fall short of justice, we ask for a better world to be born.

For the times in which we try to do what is right, we ask for strength. For the times in which we feel overwhelmed, and tired, and busy, and stressed, we ask for a sense of solace and rest.

We are thankful for colleagues and friends who sustain us on the journey. May we be responsive to them, as they are responsive to us. These things we pray in the name of the Love which transcends all religions, Amen.

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