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Reinhold Niebuhr: Prayers

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God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and wis dom to distinguish the one from the other.


O God, the sovereign of nations, teach us how we may build a common life in which the nations of the world may find peace and justice. Show us what we ought to do. Show us also what are the limits of our power and what we cannot do. Recall us to our dignity as co-workers with You now and evermore.


O God, we pray for all sorts and conditions of people:

For all who toil in the burden and heat of the day, that they may en joy the rewards of their industry, that they may not be defrauded of their due, and that we may never cease to be mindful of our debt to them for making our life tolerable;

For those in authority, who have power over others, that they may not use it for selfish advantage but be guided to do justice and to love mercy.

For those who have been worsted in the battles of life, whether by the inhumanity of others, their own limitations, or the fickleness of fortune, that they may contend against injustice without bitterness, and learn how to accept what cannot be altered, with patience;

For the rulers of nations that they may promote peace among the peoples and establish justice in our common life.

For the teachers and ministers of Your power, for artists, scientists and interpreters of the spiritual life, that they may not corrupt the truth to which they are committed;

For prophets and seers who awaken us from our sloth, that they may hold their torches high in a world darkened by prejudice.

O God, who has bound us together in this bundle of life, give us the grace to understand how our lives depend upon one another and our responsibilities to You.

Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) is the best known American theologian of the 20th century. Niebuhr joined the faculty at Union Theological Seminary in New York City in 1928 after thirteen years as a pastor in Detroit, where he worked actively to counter the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in the burgeoning city. During World War II, he turned from pacifism toward his ideology of Christian Realism.