Oh God. We have strayed so far from the garden where we walked and talked with you in the cool of the evening. Where you fellowshipped with us face to face. Where you shared your heart with us and for us. Where we were open with you and without secrets. Where we rejoiced in your creation and were at peace. Where we laughed together and knew you well, just as you knew us. Where we belonged.
When we chose the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil our eyes were opened, just like the serpent said they would be. We were distracted from the Tree of Life and instead focused on what we wanted. We hid our motives from you. We covered up our vulnerabilities from you and from each other. Shame became our food. And power our goal. We thought it was freedom we were seeking, but in reality, we found bondage, to ourselves.
Here we sit, generations and generations later, still reaping what we sewed in the garden. The fruit has grown and grown with no pruning in sight. We see it playing out with wars and rumors of wars all over the world. Power is king. Power to crush those we deem lesser or other. Power to do what we want. Power to claim others as our own. It takes different forms over the centuries, but it is all the same fruit.
God, our hearts do not see. They only see the fruit, not the root. Help us to remember the Tree of Life. The fruit of belonging to you. Of walking with you in peace.
Give the people of Ukraine your kind of peace. And your safety. The comfort of being known by you and loved beyond their wildest dreams. In the midst of attacks, give them your strength. Your wisdom. Help them to seek you for discernment on where to go and what to do in such horrific circumstances. Lead them Lord. Guide their steps and actions. Let the sunflowers continue to face the sun and not take their eyes off of you. Direct their paths. Draw them near.
And for those in Russia who are caught up in grasp of power-seeking leaders, give them grace. To stand against the pull of power. To stand up in the midst of fear. To show the world not everyone is for this fruit that is sprouting. Not everyone is grasping for their own way. Give them a voice to be heard by the ones who can change the course of death that is moving across the land. Give them your words, Lord. Give them your heart for true freedom and not the false bondage their leaders are choosing.
For the leaders, speak to them in dreams. Give their hearts pause. Wake them up to their actions. Crush the serpent as he whispers in their ears. Open their hearts to your voice. Give other leaders around the world your words to speak. Only you can do these things, God. No government or alliance can fix this. None of them can save the people dying. Only you can turn the hearts of men. I pray that their hearts would be willing to be turned. That out of this disaster would come peace. Somehow, Lord. Some way. Bring your kind of peace. Bring us back to walking with you in the cool of the evening. To sharing and laughing with you instead of all the chaos of our own choices.
May your heart of restoration be known. May your desire to be with us again win the day. Bring us back to you. Stop those who reach for power at the expense of the lives of others. Please, bring your justice.
Please, give us eyes to see our role in choosing life. Make our words life-giving words. Make our actions life-giving actions. Help us not to hide our motivations, even from ourselves. Open our eyes to see our own secrets. Open our eyes to see places our hearts are aligned with the evil in the world. The places we long for power and to be seen. Give us the courage to be humbled. To walk with you so we can be known, truly known.
We lay this war at your feet. We lay our own shortcomings at your feet. We lay the innocent people in harm’s way at your feet. We lay the leaders at your feet. We ask you take up our offerings and right the wrongs, set the people truly free, and bring us all back to the garden where we belong.
In the name of Jesus, who reaches out for us always, Amen.