A Social Action Prayer

Mineral Point suffered a tragedy this last week when two of its firefighters were killed in a vehicular accident. Like many in the city, I sit with sorrow in my heart, knowing that families and the community are changed forever. At the same time, I acknowledge sources of pride and inspiration that come in the wake of this tremendous loss: I am thankful and inspired by those who selflessly serve our community, like Captain Brian Busch and James Ludlum; I am proud to be part of a community that has rallied to raise thousands of dollars in memory of these men in just a few days; I am grateful for the love amidst the sadness; and still I know that this love doesn’t negate the deep grief many feel. I can only hope the love makes the grief less lonely.

I came across Rabbi Jack Riemer’s Social Action prayer during my first chaplain internship. At this time, it reminds me of the need for community. It reminds me that we each of gifts to give and to tend. We cannot expect crops to grow in a field that we haven’t tilled. We must clear a path so that the energy of change can flow through us and between us. And, there are those of us who are suffering, who are doing all they can to survive in the current bramble and don’t have the energy or resources to disentangle the thorny overgrowth that surrounds them. We are all in the same field–the field of humanity. One person’s untilled plot is also our untilled plot. When we have more, let us extend the abundance to those who have less.

I join Rabbi Riemer in his prayer. May the world not want more of what it already has. Instead, may we be inspired by the everyday heroes around us to want more of ourselves: more giving, more community, more understanding, and more love.


Social Action


By Rabbi Jack Riemer


We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end war:
For we know You made the world in a way
That we must find our own path of peace
Within ourselves and with our neighbor.


We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to root out prejudice:
For You have already given us eyes
With which to see the good in all people
If we would only use them rightly.


We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end starvation:
For You have already given us the resources
With which to feed the entire world
If we would only use them wisely.


We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end despair:
For You have already given us the power
To clear away slums and to give hope
If we would only use our power justly.


We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end disease,
For You have already given us great minds
With which to search out cures and healing
If we would only use them constructively.


Therefore we pray to You, instead O God,
For strength, determination, and will power.
To do instead of just to pray
To become instead of merely to wish.


(Living God’s Justice: Reflections and Prayers, by The Roundtable Association of Diocesan Social Action
Directors, p. 155)

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