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A Radical Prayer for Our Persecutors

Posted by Erin Bechtol

Radical Prayers: On Peace, Love, and Nonviolence is a guide to daily connection to God through prayers that meditate on the challenges facing us today. With reflections on each continent, wildlife, and homelessness among many more topics, John Dear guides us through a holistic view of our world and the steps we can take to find nonviolence in every aspect of our lives. Read on below for an excerpt from the book, available here.

Jesus Tells Us to Pray for Our Persecutors, So Here Goes


Dear God,

In the Sermon on the Mount,
Jesus commands us to love our enemies,
and then he tells us to pray for our persecutors.
So here goes.

I pray for everyone who opposes
the work of justice and disarmament,
who maintains systemic injustice and harms creation,
who hinders your reign of nonviolence and peace on earth.
I pray that you will convert them
to the wisdom of nonviolence and universal love,
widen their hearts to embrace the whole human family,
and direct them on the path of peace.

I pray for all warmakers and soldiers,
those who organize the deaths of millions
of your suffering people from Iraq, Afghanistan,
and Palestine to Haiti, Sudan, and Syria,
those who ignore the cry of the poor
from Africa to Latin America, who serve the superrich,
and lead the world to the brink of destruction.
Convert them all to your way of nonviolence.

Bless all the generals, the commanders, the bombers,
the bombmakers, the pilots, the obedient soldiers,
the recruiters, the marines, the torturers,
the CIA agents, the suicidal terrorists,
all those who kill people,
who promote killing,
who organize killing,
who order killing,
who fund killing,
who serve the forces of death.
Bless all those stuck in hate groups,
all the neo-Nazis and KKK members,
that they will come to their senses and leave.
Touch them. Disarm them. Wake them up.
Make them stop their violence and turn them around.
Convert them all to your way of nonviolence.

Bless those law-abiding, obedient citizens
who build and maintain nuclear weapons
at Los Alamos, Livermore Labs,
Oak Ridge, and elsewhere,
that they might quit their jobs and disarm.
Bless those who guard the nuclear bunkers,
manage them, and prepare to push the button,
that they might quit their jobs and disarm.
Bless the executioners on death row,
the judges who sentence people to death,
the lawyers and prosecutors who legalize murder.
Convert them all to your way of nonviolence,
that the big business of death might come to an end.

Bless all the senators, congress people, governors,
Chief Justices and all those in the Executive Branch
who run the American empire.
Bless all Wall Street brokers, bankers, businessmen,
and corporate executives who reap a massive profit
off the poverty, misery, squalor, hunger,
and death of the world’s poor.
Bless all the brutalizing prison guards,
all police officers, FBI agents, immigration agents,
marshals, sheriffs, and law officers
who hurt and imprison your victimized people.
Convert them all to your way of nonviolence,
that the greed and misery might end,
that justice and equality might come true.

Bless those who destroy the earth,
who bulldoze the rainforests,
who run the logging companies,
who drill for oil, who pollute the air, poison the oceans,
destroy the artic, hunt your creatures, destroy the ozone,
operate nuclear power plants, radiate your land,
risk global warming, and spread the plague of cancer
through their nuclear industries.
Convert them all to your way of nonviolence,
that we might honor the land and her creatures,
and protect and respect all creation.

Bless all the chaplains who serve the war machine,
all the mean priests, bully ministers,
law and order bishops and cardinals,
who bless war and serve the idols of war,
who punish and condemn,
who refuse to welcome and forgive,
who seek control and domination instead of your reign
of justice, equality, and peace.
Convert them all to your way of nonviolence,
that they might renounce power and control,
side with the poor, and speak out
for justice and disarmament.

Forgive them all.
They know not what they do.

May we all be converted
to the way and wisdom of nonviolence.
Bless us all, that we might become peacemakers,
your beloved sons and daughters
who herald the coming of your reign of peace,
a new world without war, hunger, poverty,
injustice, nuclear weapons,
or environmental destruction,
that we might all dwell in your peace.


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