10 May Our ‘Gentle Protest prayer’ – part of a new book…
My Contribution p68-70 –
Title: Resisting with lament and gentle protest
We often pray for those affected by injustice: for their health, safety and peace. We pray that those in power put society and the world before personal profit. We pray for the end of violence, racism, inequality and division.
We also need prayers to help us speak truth to power in a way that does not disrespect, dehumanise, or demonise those we protest against.
“It’s ok for you, you’re naturally a gentle person,” is a comment I receive often at events and interviews. It’s not true. I wish I was! The only people in the Bible described as gentle are Moses and Jesus. And even Moses is shown to have anger management problems.
it’s difficult to be gentle when protesting to people who are part of structures, behaviours or cultures that cause harm. Yet if we want our world to become a healthier and more harmonious place for all we have to be loving in our protests whether they are to politicians, business leaders, members of our community or strangers we engage with.
This prayer is based on talks I have with God pretty regularly. I hope it helps you channel your rage into hopeful gentle effective protests.
Prayer of lament
Oh God, I get angry when I see people bullying others and abusing their power.
I sink into sadness when I see people harming the world we are supposed to be stewards of.
I’m disappointed in leaders for not being the best role models I want them to be.
I’m tempted to name, shame, blame and even throw something at them!
Lord I want to be loving but I’m so quick to demonise powerholders and wish distress upon them.
And then… I get angry with you God! You tell us to be gentle: how can I be, watching people propping up suffering, inequality, environmental harm, the list goes on?!
Please help me.
Help my protests defuse conflict: when people raise their voice, let me lower mine. When others don’t control their emotions help me stay calm.
Help my protests communicate love: help me avoid personal attacks. Instead of holding resentment let me offer forgiveness as fertile ground for progress.
Help my protests disarm critics: instead of being dismissive, help me be encouraging. Instead of being an aggressive enemy, help me be a critical friend.
Help my protests be persuasive: help me move from demanding to understanding. Instead of force, help me offer invitations to create the solutions together.
Help my activism be counter-cultural: when society wants a hero story rather than collective progress help me not succumb to ego-driven activism but act humbly in service to the cause.
When people ridicule my gentle protests help me remember gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit and hold on to the effective gentle protesters before us: Abraham Lincoln’s gentle voice, Dr King’s tough mind and tender heart, Archbishop Tutu’s forgiving and joyful soul…
Oh God help me be a gentle protester against injustice. I can’t do this without you.
Written by Sarah P Corbett, award-winning activists, Ashoka fellow, author of How To Be A Craftivist: the art of gentle protest and Founding Director of Craftivist Collective.
More info not in the book:
I was honoured to be asked by Christian Aid to contribute a prayer to their new book with SPCK Publishing: Rage and Hope. A collection of defiant prayers for justice and a better world to commemorate and celebrate 75 years of Christian Aid and launched #ChristianAidWeek2021. Available in all good bookshops.
I don’t hide my faith and it definitely influences the Craftivist Collective work and Gentle Protest consultancy that I do that doesn’t just involve craft. I studied Religions and Theology as my degree in the University of Manchester (the course received the only 5 star rating in the UK at time of study) and I picked modules such as Holocaust Theology, Liberation Theology, Islam, Buddhism, Sociology of Religions, What is Sacred Space and more. I loved my course and gained a First because I was such a geek!
Of course my Dad (anglican vicar) checked my prayer was theologically sound and my Mum (politician) checked it was emotionally sensitive to those directly effected by injustice especially in the area where I grew up in Everton.
The book published last week (just in time for Christian Aid Week!) brings together voices from different contexts and cultures around the world. It is a collection of prayers of lament for the injustices of the world and prayers of hope for the world we want to see.
My prayer is number 24. Other contributors include Archbishop Rowan Williams, Amanda Khozi Mukwashi, Rhidian Brook, Robert Beckford, John Bell, Rachel Treweek, Walter Brueggemann amongst others. The prayers can be read in solitude, in groups or as part of church services.
I hope my words resonate with and are helpful for Christian’s this Christian Aid Week (10th-16th May 2021) and beyond. I also hope people of all faiths and non feel that I am in solidarity with them on our journey together to be compassionate citizens in life on this fragile earth.
Now I’m dreaming of writing versions of this Gentle Protest prayer with religious leaders of all faiths…
Do you find my work helpful? If so, please consider becoming a patron of mine for £10 a month or a one-off payment of annual donation of £120 to help me (Sarah) continue to produce free and accessible gentle craftivism resources to people around the world. At the end of each year you will receive an exclusive limited edition print yearbook with my thanks, praise and gratitude. More information here —> https://craftivist-collective.com/adopt-a-craftivist