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Ramadan 2009: Day 1

Here is my prayer today:

God, Creator of all people, in this month when a billion people will observe Ramadan with fasting and prayer, with devotional reading and with kindness to the needy, may your Spirit be at work in the hearts of Muslims, Christians, and Jews (who together make up over half the world's population) as well as people of other faiths and no stated faith.

May your gentle voice call us to move beyond our tribal visions of a deity who loves "us" but hates "them." Help us to see you more truly as you are, a God who is pure light, rich in mercy, whose mercy triumphs over judgment, who knows us each by name, and who graciously considers us beloved, wherever we are from, whatever our background, whatever labels we apply to ourselves or others apply to us.

May your voice of truth call us to question the prejudices and misconceptions about you and about one another that we learned from well-meaning but misinformed authority figures, even when they thought they were speaking in your name.

May your voice of peace make us ashamed of our violence, hatred, fear, superiority, and resentment. And may your voice of courage inspire us to walk in the way of reconciliation, even when that path is dangerous and difficult.

May your voice of compassion teach us to see one another - and ourselves - with new eyes, your eyes. And so may we forgive one another where we have been hurt by one another; may we humble ourselves and admit the truth where we have done the hurting; may we repent where we have chosen the small ways of revenge and exclusion rather than your greater ways of reconciliation and embrace.

May your voice of wisdom call us out from our vicious cycles of self-destruction.

With your help, Lord, may we, who are faithful and loyal to the different doctrines and traditions we learned from our beloved parents and respected teachers, not let our loyalty to sacred teachings and traditions make us disloyal to you or to one another. For in this age of crushing financial debt, we all have a beautiful and liberating debt, Lord, to you and to one another: a debt of love. For as Jesus taught us, the greatest command is to love you with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbors - including those who consider themselves our enemies - as ourselves.

May your voice of goodness nourish in our hearts a desire that is even greater than the desire for food and drink. May you create in us an insatiable hunger and thirst to be filled to overflowing with your goodness - to everyone, Lord, but especially to the poor, the sick, the misunderstood, the rejected, the vulnerable, the forgotten. For the common good, Lord, bring together those of us who have all that we need and more, and unite us together with those in need, so that all will soon have enough and more to share.

It is good, Lord, when people pray and sing praises to your name. But how hollow are those words and songs when we do not also honor you by honoring one another. For how can we honor the God who cannot be seen when we dishonor our neighbor, made in your image, who can be seen?

So, Creator and Provider and Sustainer of Life, Giver of all grace, Source of justice and mercy, may your voice be heard deep in my heart, and in the hearts of all people on earth, this beautiful planet that displays your artistry, majesty, and power. Amen.