The ongoing pandemic offers Christians a number of objectives to pray for. I’m sure we all want to pray for the pandemic to simply go away, but, of course, that cannot happen in one fell swoop. Vaccinations are working miracles, but those refusing to be vaccinated, encouraged by malicious or ignorant influencers, are preventing us from getting safely past our current struggles. Those influencers are actually few and operate from a variety of less-than-pure motives. But the vaccine-hesitant who have been subject to malign influence are legion. Praying for these people seems a proper thing to do.
These thoughts led me to create a prayer, in the form of a collect. (You can read a number of collects I have written here.) Frequently, though not invariably, I have invited others to help me improve my prayers. In preparing a prayer petitioning for a change of heart among the vaccine-hesitant, I enlisted the help of fellow Episcopalians with whom I regularly interact on Facebook. The collect below is the product of that interaction.
I first wrote a rough draft of the prayer, then offered it to friends for improvement. My initial cut wasn’t bad—I had thought a good deal about the order of the ideas I wanted to present—but I could see it needed improvement. My collaborators identified some of the wording I was uncomfortable with, and they uncovered other problems of which I had been unaware. Someone described the text as convoluted, but the standard collect form makes a certain complexity inevitable. Having collectively developed a text that was acceptable to everyone, we struggled to put a caption on the prayer. I hope the one I selected seems reasonable.
Here is the final version of the prayer:
For the Misguided
Merciful Creator, God of wisdom and truth, soften the hearts of those swayed by purveyors of falsehood to value their own desires above the needs of others, so that we may live more fully into the call to love our neighbors as ourselves commanded by our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
I would like to acknowledge the assistance of the Rev. David Green, the Rev. Christopher D. Hofer, the Rev. Lisa Keppeler, the Rev. Leilani McCurdy, Mary Prine, Sophia Twaddell, and Tamara West.
Comments are welcome. Feel free to use this prayer. I would appreciate your letting me know of your use, however.