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Why you should pray for the nation

Bishop Carlye J. Hughes

Bishop Hughes urges us all to pray for our nation daily, reminds us why we are called to pray, and shares her favorite prayer. (Time: 4:34.)

Video Transcript

This is Bishop Hughes in the Diocese of Newark. And I want to talk with you about praying for the nation. I have been asking the people of our diocese to pray for the nation on a daily basis. I pray for the nation often, usually starting most meetings with it, and I use the prayer for the nation that you can find on page 258 in the Book of Common Prayer. And as I've suggested to so many people, including to you, right now, today, it's a good prayer but you can also pray in your own words. You can also visualize the good you would like to see in our nation, the healing that God can bring to our nation. The ability to draw people together and to work for the best for all people. That that's something we can see in our mind's eye as well as pray for.

And when I talk so much about praying for the nation, there are two questions that I get very frequently. The first is, "Are you saying that you can only be spiritual if that's our only response?" And the answer to that is of course no. Praying for the nation is ONE response. It's one of many responses. And we have been, I think most of us, very engaged in other ways. Talking to elected officials. Working with organizations that are meeting needs that we think are important. Letting our thoughts and our values be known to others. Doing the work that you find in our Baptismal Covenant, where we respect the dignity of all people, and we seek justice for all of humankind. So no, this is not just spiritual work, but that spiritual piece is important too.

The other question that I get all the time is, "Why do you keep praying, why do you keep doing this work? Isn't it just time to stop?" That these are complicated issues, issues about the economy, about racism, about political division. These are complicated issues; they've always been with us. Maybe it's just time to stop and let them just roll along, being what they are. And the answer to that is an unqualified no! We are called. We are called by God. We actually have taken vows, not only in our Baptismal Covenant, but at Confirmation. We have said these are the things that are important to us, and they boil down to one thing really, and that is to love our neighbor the way we love ourselves.

So why do we say these prayers? We say these prayers because it reminds us that God is listening to us, and that we are not in this alone. We say these prayers because it gives us a place to take our worries and to take our fears. And when we take our worries and fears to God, God can then transform us with the sense of peace and faith that very often comes when we go to God in prayer. When we put ourselves in God's presence.

We also say these prayers because it reminds us to love our neighbors. When I say these prayers, I don't just say them for me and my family and the Episcopalians that I love, I say them for the people that I disagree with. I say them for the people who don't like me, or people like me, and who have no respect for me. I say them for the people that I will always be in disagreement with. I say them for all people, I say them for the whole nation. Because we as a nation need this healing.

So I invite you friends, find your prayer for the nation. Say it every day, continue to do all the good work that you're doing. But know that when you say that prayer, that you hand it over to God, God blesses you and God blesses our country.

Here's the prayer that I say.

Lord God Almighty, you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace: Give to the people of our country a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Amen, amen and amen.

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