Call to Prayer and Fasting on Feb. 15
Western Pennsylvania United Methodists are called to a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Christian Martyrs on Feb. 15, 2016 in memory of 21 Egyptian Christian martyrs who were murdered in Libya by those claiming to be members of the Islamic State (ISIS) a year ago.
Members of the 2015 Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference approved a petition (P808) calling for the Day of Prayer and Fasting on the first anniversary of the day a video was released of the 21 Coptic Orthodox Christians being martyred. The petition calls for prayer and fasting “in remembrance of today’s Christian martyrs (and of all victims of terrorism), and to ask God to move in the heart of terrorists in the Middle East and worldwide in order to lead them to salvation and forgiveness.”
The petition was submitted by three members of the Conference Evangelism Team: Trent Somes III of Community UMC in Harrison City; the Rev. John Emigh, pastor of First UMC in Derry; and Associate Pastor Paul Morelli of Lakeside UMC in DuBois, a Certified Lay Minister who serves as chair of the Evangelism Team.
They offer the following prayers, taken from Justice and Mercy by Reinhold Niebuhr, for use on February 15:
- We pray most particularly for those nations and peoples whose national life has been destroyed cities lion ashes and rubble spirits are tempted to despair give them and us grace to discern your will and judgments beyond the confusion and arrogance of our judgment upon them grant that the might of the victor will be tempted by mercy so that bitterness and confusion will not be increased give us the grace to know that the power of the Lord is greater than our power and above the divine power is the divine mercy.
- We pray to this day mindful of the sorry confusion of our world. Look with mercy upon this generation of your children so steeped in misery of their own contriving so far strayed from your ways and so blinded by passions. We pray for the victims of tyranny that they may resist oppression with courage and may preserve their integrity by a hope which defies the terror of the moment. We pray for wicked and cruel men whose arrogance reveals to us what the sin of our own hearts is like when it has conceived and brought forth its final fruit. Oh God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble bring down the mighty from their seats. We pray for ourselves who live in peace and quietness that we may not regard our good fortune as proof of our virtue or rest content to have our ease at the price of other men's sorrow and tribulation. We pray for all who have some vision of your will despite confusions and betrayals of human sin that they may humbly and resolutely plan for and fashion the foundations of a just peace between men even while they seek to preserve what is fair and just among us against the threat of malignant power. Grant us grace to see what we can do but also to know what our the limits of our powers so that courage may feed on trust in you who are able to rule and overrule the angry passions of men to make the wrath of men to praise you.
- Hear us as we pray to you in these tragic days of our history amid the tumults and alarms of war when rulers fail and nations fall you have cast the mighty from their seats when you have made the judges of the earth as vanity and the nations appear as but a little thing before you. Grant us grace to hear the voice of your judgments in the sorrows and pains of our day so that we may be awakened from sloth and heedlessness. Help us also to discern your grace within and above your judgment that we may not be driven to despair. Thus knowing both your justice and your mercy we may not be as those who have no hope. Turn our sorrow into repentance and a repentance into firm resolution to do your will and to seek to build a fairer world.
- We pray for all the suffering children of men for those who brave great pearl in our behalf make us mindful of our debt to them for the wounded in the dying give them a vision of the meaning of life which transcends life and death for the victims of cool tyranny that they may know how to assert the integrity of the Spirit against malignant power. Remind us of our dignity as children of God that we may not be tempted to cowardice remind us of our weakness so that we may not corrupt the cause we defend by arrogance Lord who are able to make the wrath of men praise you rule and overrule the angry passions and sinful affections of men that we may be led out of this night of sorrow into a brighter day.
Support for refugees fleeing persecution can be direct through UMCmission.org to Advance Special # 982540 - Refugee Response or Advance Special # 3022144 - Global Refugee Migration.