Prayers for Times of Natural Disaster

Rosalie Sugrue of Aotearoa / New Zealand wrote prayers for the Christchurch earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 and has re-written them for the use of worship leaders everywhere. Note her suggestions to adapt earthquake to flood or fire or hurricane or tornado. In this week in the United States weather situations have taken lives in so many locations. It is so helpful to use Rosalie’s words — both the straightforward prayer of intercession and then the more Job-like prayer of anger when a second disaster strikes in the same location.

An Earthquake Prayer

God of love and hope,
We humans cannot understand the mighty forces of nature,
nor can we comprehend the limits your divinity imposes.
All we know is our smallness when nature flexes.
An *earthquake has changed lives and landscapes in *Canterbury.
The impact is severe and continuing, this we can understand.
We pray for all who have suffered damage – holding in our minds vivid images
of * mangled buildings, ruptured land, broken infrastructure and smashed livelihoods.
Each picture represents hundreds of damaged people.
We ask that you hold each of them in your love and care;
For we believe that where there is suffering, you suffer,
and your suffering is the fullness of compassion,
that which calms fear, sustains hope and encourages renewal.

We give thanks for the wisdom, civil structures, and resources,
that have been able to limit the worst aspects of major disaster.
In our country decency, dedication, adaptability and neighbourliness are hallmarks.
For such blessings we are profoundly thankful, long may they last.
We also know that as trauma continues, energy ebbs and depression invades,
so we pray that sagging spirits be raised by your presence and practical aid.
Enable those burdened with responsibilities to make the best possible decisions,
and may all affected know comfort and support, and receive what they need
in the rebuilding of their lives.

And, lastly we pray for ourselves;
Keep us safe, keep compassion at the heart of our being,
and show us how we can help our prayers come true. Amen

Another (Second) Disaster Prayer

Another disaster has struck _________. We can’t help but ask why.
Last time we were stunned, this time we are devastated. Why God?
Lives are lost. People and property are irreparably damaged. Why, God, why?
We feel gutted – hurt, angry, confused, and frightened – but you know this!
Times such as these prompt Christians to seek comfort in the words of Christ.
Jesus told a parable of ordinary sinful parents giving good gifts to their children, never harming with serpent or scorpion, but giving fish and eggs as asked for.
The story has a promise of our Heavenly Parent giving a very good gift.
The promised gift is not safety from harm.
It is that you will be with us through the Holy Spirit.
No matter how much parents love their children they cannot always save them from harm.
This we understand. Like earthly parents you love us to the uttermost, no matter what.
We believe that where there is suffering, you suffer, and that your suffering
is the fullness of compassion, that calms fear, sustains hope and encourages renewal.
We ask that each of your suffering children is able to feel tangible love and care.
And that despairing spirits be buoyed by immediate and continuing aid and support.
May they know we feel the pain of _______’s injury and stand firm with its people.

After a Disaster (‘Earthquake Prayer’ is suitable for adaptation)
* change words in italics as is appropriate
Name the type of disaster and the region in line 5 *
Substitute other mental pictures in line 8 *…
Flood: water filled homes, drowned plains, distressed stock, dashed dreams…
Fire: hideous flames, choking smoke, skeleton trees, charred timbers, fleeing wildlife…
Wind: flattened buildings, torn trees, upturned vehicles, smashed boats…
Lines 14-16 may need changing to the particulars of the situation.Green, Ho

You may be interested as well in Rosalie’s novel Green, Ho!     Praise for Green, Ho!: Rosalie Sugrue, novelist, is back: after League of Lilith in 2011, comes Green, Ho! in 2015. If you are the child of religious parents, you will be delighted, or daunted, or both. If you have been pushed to the margins by medical mis-adventure, this is for you. – Garth & Elizabeth Cant “Things happen. Deal with them… The real trick is to enjoy the voyage.” The last sentence of Green, Ho! sums up this book. The book is candid, challenging, thought provoking and amusing as Molly recalls the moments in her life that have shaped her intellectually, spiritually and physically. – Rev Vicki Terrell, Chairperson Disability, Spirituality & Faith Network Aotearoa NZ With imagination and well-written prose Rosalie captures the changing mood and values of life in New Zealand from the 1960s onward. Green, Ho! brings memory alive. Those who lived through the times described will find themselves saying I was there. – Jill & John Meredith

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2 Responses to Prayers for Times of Natural Disaster

  1. So happy to find your post! I’m running with you on this. Thanks!

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