Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Prayers for a Just Economy

Litany from Today's Prayer Service:

Prayers for a Just Economy
On the National Day of Action to Raise Wages
July 24, 2013

Gathering Music

Welcome and Reflection – Rev. Michael Livingston

Opening prayer

God of Grace, you have gifted us with a world of abundance; a land of plenty; a country where all can have enough. We come before you this day to thank you for this prosperity and to repent from our apparent inability to share this wealth. God, we stand across from temples of power to declare our own complicity in systems that sustain some of us, while forsaking many others. And we come before you to seek your forgiveness, even as we pray for your justice.

Righteous God, you hear the cry of the poor. You listen to those who do without, while so many spend recklessly and our leaders invest the wealth of the nation in instruments of destruction.

Be with us this day Lord. Hear our prayers. Touch our hearts that we may be faithful witnesses and effective voices for justice. God of mercy, hear our prayer.  Amen.

Readings from the Sacred Texts

Hebrew Scriptures:  Deuteronomy 24:14-15
Holy Qur’an: Surah Al-Mutaffifin, 83:1-4
New Testament: Acts 4:32, 34-35

A Responsive Prayer for Justice[1]

Pray for those who are hungry.
Pray harder for those who will not feed them.
Pray for those who struggle each week to pay their bills.
Pray harder for the wealthy who do not care.
Pray for those who are homeless.
Pray harder for those who deny them shelter.
Pray for the sick and lonely.
Pray harder for those who will not give them comfort.
Pray for those who cry out for dignity.
Pray harder for those who will not listen.
Pray for those oppressed by unjust wages.
Pray harder for those who exploit them.
Pray for those who bear the yoke of prejudice.
Pray harder for those who discriminate against them.
Pray for those whose basic needs are denied.
Pray harder for public officials who cater to the greedy and ignore those bound unjustly. Amen.

Intercessory Prayers

And now let us, as a community of faith, surround in prayer all those who are struggling on the economic margins. Who have not shared in the great abundance God has entrusted to our care. Who have been left behind by the so-called recovery and who are unemployed or underemployed or unjustly employed – laboring full-time and yet living in poverty.  And let us pray for all those engaged in our unjust economic system: the laborers, the managers, the owners, the policy-makers and yes, we the consumers  - each who has a role and responsibility in creating a faithful economy that once again values work and honors the dignity of all workers.

 Hear now our prayers O God:

We pray today for all those who are seeking employment. For those who are facing an uncertain future – whether they are experiencing joblessness for the first time today or are among the millions of the long-term unemployed who have been out of work for six months or longer.  God of justice, hear our prayer

We pray today for those who are working in low-wage jobs, who work full-time and yet remain trapped in poverty -- workers who are fighting for fair wages, respect and dignity in their workplace.  God of justice, hear our prayer

We pray for children whose parents must often work two or three jobs to afford shelter, food and clothing. And for moms and dads and family members who struggle with the difficult choice of working multiple jobs to provide for their family and cannot tuck their children into bed each night or see them off to school in the morning. God of justice, hear our prayer

We pray for those who labor in the fields to provide us food each day.  For the farm workers who too often work beneath the hot sun without shade and in the deadly heat without water and who do not even make sufficient wages to buy the food they are harvesting. God of justice, hear our prayer

We pray today for our brothers and sisters who work in the shadow of a broken and unjust immigration system – workers who face discrimination and exploitation and whose rights are too often denied because of intimidation and fear of deportation. God of justice, hear our prayer

We pray for all those who labor in restaurants and earn as little as $2.13 per hour – the ‘tipped wage’ which has not been raised in twenty-two years. God of justice, hear our prayer

We pray for ethical employers who share fairly the earnings of their businesses with all their workers. For those who pay living wages and provide benefits sufficient for workers to support themselves and their families. God of justice, hear our prayer

We pray for those employers who have not yet learned to value their workers or recognize their inherent dignity.  For those CEOs and managers who have hoarded riches and yet denied fair wages to all those employed by their companies. We pray, God that you might turn their hearts of stone into hearts of compassion. God of justice, hear our prayer

We pray for our President that he might use the power of his office to lead by example and guarantee that all workers on federal property are paid a living wage, God of justice, hear our prayer

We pray for all our elected leaders that they might place our brothers and sisters struggling on the margins at the very center of their deliberations.  That they would support policies that create good jobs with living wages. That Congress would increase the minimum wage so that no one again would be forced to work full-time and still live in poverty. God of justice, hear our prayer

And finally, we pray that we as your faithful community might use our voices and our resources to build a just economy – an economy of shared prosperity where workers earn living wages and all our brothers and sisters live lives of dignity. God of justice, hear our prayer

God of Justice – we lift up all these prayers to you in the knowledge that you are already at work amid the brokenness of our economic system and that you invite each of us to be a part of your holy work of justice. God we offer to you these prayers today – both spoken aloud and those in our hearts - that together we might be the people you have called us to be reflecting your compassion, mercy and justice in all that we do.  In your many holy names we pray – Amen.

Benediction and Sending Forth

[1] by Rebecca Sutton Program Coordinator of Global Women’s Exchange
This prayer was developed for the NY State Labor-Religion Coalition’s seventh annual 40-hour fast.