As a new school year begins I want to share prayers for our children, all of them, and for caring adults to be God’s hands and feet standing for children everywhere in these very difficult times in our nation and around our shared world.
We especially pray for every child living in cities, towns, rural areas, neighborhoods and homes devastated by winds and floods without a safe space to escape to or a place to call home and whose lives have been upended by forces they cannot control.
We pray and stand for children blessed by parents who care and for children without a parent or anyone who cares at all.
We pray and stand for children filled with joy and for children whose days and nights are joyless or terrifying.
We pray and stand for children with hope and for children whose spirits have been dimmed and dashed.
We pray and stand for children high on play and study and laughter and for children high on pot, heroin, cocaine, and prescription opioids or who see their parents struggling with addiction.
We pray and stand for children for whom we pray every day and for children who have no one to pray them along life’s way.
We pray and stand for children poised by circumstance to soar and conquer life’s challenges and for children bogged down by the pain of survival and unbearable losses.
We pray and stand for children who love to read and for children who can’t read at all, for children who learn with excitement and for children told by adults that they cannot achieve.
We pray and stand for children who expect and are helped to succeed and for children whom no one believes in or helps to succeed.
We pray that we will be a help and not a hindrance to children we call our own and to all the children You created who are part of our family too.
OH I AM WHO I AM
Hear the cries of Your children
Who are ravaged by violence, poverty, racism, neglect or natural disasters
Scared, profiled, arrested, and imprisoned by those in authority
Ignored by those with power as they languish in crumbling schools and neighborhoods and teeming shelters
Labeled often by some entrusted with their education as dumb, disruptive, retarded, and failures
Marginalized by those who vote and are elected because they cannot vote or make campaign contributions
Resented by some of those forced to care for them in our too often inhumane child welfare and juvenile justice systems
Hear our cries for our children all powerful God
Fight their battles, turn the hearts and transform the actions of those who will not let our children escape the darkness of violence and drugs and poverty
Open the Red Sea to their opportunity and hopefulness about their futures
Send them Your manna in the wilderness and
Lead us and our children into the promised land.
God our creator and protector:
Help us to preach by our actions and to teach by our lives like Jesus and Gandhi, and Heschel and Dr. King and Fannie Lou Hamer.
Help us to live Your faith and not be paralyzed by our fears or submit to the pull of our greedy and violent culture.
Help us not to blame You for children who suffer, cry out in anguish, and tremble in fear.
Help us to use the hands and feet and voices and votes You have given us to save Your little ones entrusted to our care.
Now more than ever, our children need a moral start beginning in the White House, Congress and State Houses. On the third weekend of October congregations of all faiths will celebrate the National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths, sponsored by the Children’s Defense Fund. This annual observance is a way for all faith communities to celebrate children as sacred gifts of the Divine and provides opportunities for houses of worship to renew and live out their moral responsibility to care, protect and advocate for all children.
This 26th celebration is a part of continuing seed planting for a transforming children’s movement that aims to unite families, youths, communities and religious congregations of all faiths across the nation in shared concern for children and a shared commitment to improving their lives. This year’s theme is “Moving Forward with Hope: Love and Justice for Every Child.” Please learn more about how your congregation can download the free, easy-to-use resources and join us.
Marian Wright Edelman is president of the Children’s Defense Fund.