“We must pray for peace in Ukraine, but we must pray for the kind of peace that accompanies justice and virtue and truth—even if that takes time and, perhaps, some fighting to secure.“
Today, we want to offer a reflection on how we can be praying amidst the growing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Our guest blogger is Greer Bates Cordner, who is a Ph.D. student at Boston University School of Theology and a former missionary in southern Ukraine. Read below to hear her suggestions on what it means to pray for peace in Ukraine right now.
Many people have committed to fast and pray or attend special worship services to ask God for peace in Ukraine. As we prepare for those important devotions, though, I felt an urge to share a caution that I received during some of my own pleadings.
It is important to consider what kind of “peace” we desire for Ukraine. More specifically, I think that we need to pray for a “peace” that means something much more than an end to the armed conflict.
The war needs to end—absolutely. The shelling and killing and destroying must stop. But there are many ways for the conflict to end, and not all of them constitute “peace,” in my mind.
After all, if Ukraine surrenders, gives in to Putin’s puppet government, yields her territory, and turns vassal, the fighting might end. But would that mean “peace”? If Ukraine falls (without surrender), and time passes before any meaningful pods of resistance can form, there might be a lapse in armed conflict for a while. Would that interim be a time of “peace”? Has there been “peace” in Ukraine for the past several years while the fighting and occupation have simmered out of sight from our headlines and news feeds? Was there “peace” in the months leading up to this most recent invasion, before the fighting broke out?
We must pray for peace in Ukraine, but we must pray for the kind of peace that accompanies justice and virtue and truth—even if that takes time and, perhaps, some fighting to secure.
Let us pray that the armed conflict ceases without the destruction of Ukraine’s sovereignty.
Let us pray that the invaders’ hearts will sicken at the realization of their actions, and that anyone with an ounce of authority over the troops will begin to pull back, resist Putin’s commands, and leave their neighbors be.
Let us pray that the defenders’ hearts will strengthen to endure whatever amount of fighting it takes to achieve the kind of peace that doesn’t mean victory for the abusers.
Let us pray that the civilians will find shelter and support, that international aid will rally behind them, that countries will embrace the refugees, and that families can somehow be reunited and live in enduring security.
Let us pray that in the aftermath of this war, Russia, Ukraine, and the rest of our nations take hard stock of our governments, and begin (or continue) the process of rooting out corruption, self-interest, and greed.
Let us pray that this war doesn’t set up a precedent of inaction by those of us whose personal security affords us the option to look away, or to call for the speediest end to the fight, no matter the cost to a faraway country.
Let us pray for the stomachs to fight for hard peace instead of the absence of conflict.
Oh God, pour out peace on Ukraine, on the world, but please let it be this kind of peace—even if it takes time and some fighting to reach. And if the road to hard peace isn’t fast or free of conflict, then pour out strength and courage and faith on anyone who battles for what’s right and true.
О Боже, дай Украине настоящий, тяжёлый, справедливый мир. И дай ей храбрость бороться для него. Пусть это будет в Украине по словам Твоего Сына: «Мир оставляю вам, мир Мой даю вам; не так, как мир даёт, Я даю вам. Да не смущается сердце ваше и да не устрашается.» Во имя Иисуса Христа, аминь.
[Translation: Oh God, give Ukraine a real, hard, just peace. And give her the courage to fight for it. Let it be in Ukraine according to the words of Thy Son: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.]