Often when human relationships falter, there is a lot of blaming that goes on. Those dealing with such situations quickly tire of all the blaming, faultfinding, and finger pointing which only helps to escalate hostilities. The blame game. And those who see it express the sanity of “stop blaming everyone else.” While we appreciate the wisdom of this in personal relationships, we might find it harder to accept when applied to world events.
One thing one can notice in Orthodox prayers dealing with war and adversaries is that many of them do not blame the enemy, but start with personal repentance and asking God’s forgiveness. The assumption is that if terrible things are happening to us, it is because we are sinners. These assumptions and prayers are not always satisfying as they do not attempt to justify our own reactions to things, nor do they validate our point of view, nor do they vilify the enemy. The prayers do not rely on human ideas of justice or righteous retribution. They are one Christian way to deal with the antagonisms and aggression we experience in life (and might even inflict on others).
Below are a few prayers shaped by Orthodox Tradition which do not allow us to accept a self-pitying victimization point of view. They seek God’s help and mercy. The proactive prayer in Orthodoxy has us repenting first and approaching God in humility, not asserting our righteousness, but asking God’s mercy first. We approach our God on 9/11 with humble hearts, acknowledging the pain of the evil we have experienced. We recognize what evil has done to us while beseeching God for mercy.
O Lord our God, our help and assistance. You are just and merciful, and You hear the prayers of Your people. We humbly beg You to look down now upon us sinners and have mercy upon us. Through your deep and abiding love for us, deliver us all from this evil that has befallen on our nation from the senseless, violent and evil actions of terrorists and have mercy on us.
To those taken from us by these evil actions, give them rest with the saints in a place where there is no pain, sorrow or sighing, but life everlasting. Sustain and heal those who have been physically harmed but live on, and bring them to full restoration and health by Your Grace. For the families and friends of those killed or injured, grant them, O Lord, comfort, aid and mercy. Deliver them from the assaults of the evil one and grant them Your mercy.
O Lord, while we do not understand the purpose of these tragedies, we believe that you allow trials in life so that we may learn to trust in Your Love and Complete Goodness. Grant everyone awareness of your Presence, Your All-encompassing Love, and Your True Peace. Fill our hearts with Your Hope and inspire us to cherish life as well as defend against all violence, for all life is precious and comes from You the True Source of every good thing. Protect us and have mercy on us.
Endow us with patience and strength to endure all tribulations with an awareness of Your truth, and teach us to learn by our holy submission to Your gracious Will. You know our misery and suffering and to You, our only True Hope and Refuge, we flee for relief and comfort. We trust in Your infinite love and compassion. Deliver us from evil in these troubled times. Turn all of our distress into comfort, so that we can rejoice in Your mercy, and always exalt and praise Your Holy Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.