A Nation at War—and on Its Knees
American Christians pray for peace, justice, and wisdom
In what has to be one of the most obvious headlines of the day, the Casper (Wyoming) Star Tribune titles an Associated Press story, "War likely topic of many Sunday sermons." (Then again, maybe it's not all that obvious: the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that almost half of America's pastors haven't preached on Iraq yet, and four out of five haven't taken a position on war with the country.)
Many churches aren't waiting until Sunday to gather together to pray about military action in Iraq. It seems like every local paper in the country found a prayer vigil or ten to cover last night as bombs fell on Baghdad. Most news reports focus on the comfort that prayer can bring, and on the content of the prayers. Few seem to take seriously the idea that many of those praying believe they are literally making a difference by bringing their concerns to God.
"Prayer works. It's why we use it as a first resort," The Newton Kansan quotes Immanuel Baptist Church deacon Randy Engel saying. "It's the only viable means of defending our boys."
But not all prayer services were alike. "Some offered services in silence, labyrinth walks, books in which worshipers could write reflections," reports The Boston Globe. "Others offered more traditional services, featuring liturgies set aside for times of war."
The Buffalo News reports that "about 150 people attended noon Mass in St. Joseph's Cathedral—a time that usually attracts only a handful of devout Catholics," but few parishioners showed interest in Cleveland, according to The Plain Dealer. "This was not Sept. 12," reporters Karen R. Long and David Briggs noted. "A vigil at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral downtown started with three people ...