Two years of war in Ukraine — a prayer

A prayer of lament, blessing, confession and action by Arianne Braithwaite Lehn.

The Rev. Sergiy Berezhnoy in central Irpin, just outside Kyiv, in April 2022. Photo courtesy of Kyiv Saints Cathedral

Isaiah 58:6–12, Lamentations 2:19, Luke 4:18–19

Merciful Jesus,

I cry for our world.
I cry over broken bodies
and broken homes
and broken hearts.

I cry over violence
and exclusion
and indifference.

I cry most of all over the children!

Through my body and breath,
I pray for your kin-dom …

For all to have
nourishing food and nurturing homes,
edifying work and safe, skilled schools,
compassionate healthcare and dignified wages,
soft beds to fall into at the day’s close …

For the children to be protected,
the elderly honored,
and both hugged every single day …

For reparative justice,
cherished diversity,
and peaceful purity in what’s
breathed, eaten, and drunk.

I cry and I pray,
confessing the many times
I’ve declared what I deserve
rather than asked what I could give.

I cry and I pray,
knowing I’m complicit in the pain
and essential to the healing.

I cry and I pray,
trusting my tears mingle with your own,
hoping this tearful river softens and shapes
the hardest canyons of injustice —
or at least lays the groundwork.

I pray and I act,
moving my body and resources
toward your kin-dom vision,
trusting my skills and gifts
carry forward the new, just world you imagine
and are always bringing.

I remember this work is mine to do.

“Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which
he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which
he blesses all the world…”†

O Jesus, have mercy
and help me.


This prayer, “When I cry for the world,” is adapted from Ash & Starlight: Prayers for the Chaos & Grace of Daily Life by Arianne Braithwaite Lehn. It was published in 2019, and the copyright is owned by the author. The prayer is republished here with permission from Chalice Press. All rights reserved.

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† Widely attributed to St. Teresa of Avila (1515-82), but not found in any of her writings according to numerous sources, so probably written by someone else. Still, it’s beautiful.