The young of the world

children of the world

(Photos from United Methodist News Service)

This ordinary season — the summer of 2014 — is full of fear and terror for many children around the world.

More than 3 million children under age 5 die each year from causes stemming from poor nutrition — that's 8,500 each day. An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked for sex and labor each year. More than 2 million children have been killed in conflicts and war during the past decade. Nearly 300 girls in Nigeria are being held captive by terrorists. Unaccompanied children from some places in Central America try to cross borders into a strange, unknown land. Three boys are kidnapped and murdered in Israel; children of Palestine are burned and caught in the crossfires of conflict. 2,000 children in the United States have been victims of gun violence in cities and countryside in the past 18 months alone.

The United Methodist Social Principles declare that children are beings to whom adults and society in general have special obligations. “Children have the rights to food, shelter, clothing health care, and emotional well-being,” our Social Principles state (2012 Book of Discipline ¶162C), “and these rights we affirm as theirs regardless of actions or inactions of their parents or guardians. “In particular, children must be protected from economic physical, emotional and sexual exploitation and abuse.”

Prayers for children

Hear these prayerful words from around the world for the hungry, the unprotected, the unaccompanied, the captive, the trafficked, wounded, tortured and dying children. 

A prayer for the poor and undernourished:

O God,

Grant that we may not seek the child Jesus
In the pretty figures of our Christmas cribs;
But rather look for him
Among the undernourished children
Who have gone to bed tonight with nothing to eat;
Among the poor newsboys who will sleep
covered with newspaper in doorways.

(A prayer based on the words of Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador)

A prayer for victims of violence and outcasts:

Almighty God, whose son came to earth to dwell with the lowly and simple, with the victims of violence and crisis, and with the outcasts and rejected of society; may we keep the same company. Amen. (A prayer from Pakistan)

I saw a child today, Lord, who will not die tonight, harried into hunger’s grave. He was bright and full of life because his father had a job and feeds him, but somewhere, everywhere, 10,000 life-lamps will go out, and not be lit again tomorrow. Lord, teach me my sin. Amen. (Christian Aid: Prayer of an African Christian)

A litany of intercession

The killing of the children

A sound is heard in Ramah,
the sound of bitter weeping.
Rachel is crying for her children;
she refuses to be comforted;
for they are dead.

Pray for the holy innocents of Israel,
victims of fear and anti-Semitism.

Lord have mercy upon us, Christ have mercy upon us.

A sound is herd in Gaza,
the sound of bitter weeping.
Pray for the holy innocents of the camps,
victims of displacement and injustice.

Lord have mercy upon us, Christ have mercy upon us.

A sound is heard in Mogadishu,
the sound of bitter weeping.
Pray for the holy innocents of Somalia,
victims of war and famine.

Lord have mercy upon us, Christ have mercy upon us.

A sound is heard in Sarajevo,
the sound of bitter weeping.
Pray for the holy innocents of Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia,
victims of hatred and hysterical stupidity.

Lord have mercy upon us, Christ have mercy upon us.

A sound is heard in our own town,
the sound of bitter weeping.
Pray for the holy innocents in our midst,
victims of violence and selfishness.

Lord have mercy upon us, Christ have mercy upon us.

(Scotland: taken from the litany of the Iona Community.
The full litany includes many other countries and needs.)

 

Editor's note: The prayers offered here come from A Procession of Prayers, Meditation & Prayer from Around the World, (comp. John Carden, World Council of Churches and Cassell, London, UK, 1998).

Letter to the Editor