For Afghanistan

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
and by night, but find no rest.

– Psalm 22.1-2

To you, the God of earth and heaven,
we turn, in grief, and pray.

For the peoples of Afghanistan,
facing terror once again,
haunted by the serried ranks of ghosts
from interminable invasions and wars,
desperate for hope,
hungering for peace;
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

We weep at what we have seen
in these last weeks and months;
we are heart-struck
with what we fear will happen now.
We have nowhere else to turn, but you;
and so we cry out:
halt the violence,
restrain those who would seek vengeance,
shelter those most at risk;
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

We confess the arrogance of empire
– Mongol, British, Russian and American –
which has spawned generations of brokenness
amongst the rubble of injustice and war.
Forgive us, we pray,
for the destruction we have wrought,
falsely determined that we knew what was right.
Forgive us for our failure to offer the Afghan peoples
what they most sorely need;
Help governments, including our own,
to act with integrity for those who have served us
and those who seek refuge within our land;
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

We pray, especially, for women and girls,
who have most to fear from the Taliban’s return.
Endow them with further courage and wisdom,
to endure what is to come;
to create hope where none seems evident;
to sow justice in what appears barren ground.
May they know their inherent value and worth
especially when days are darkest;
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

May the leaders of the Taliban
and all who cast their lot with them
realise the inherent and abiding evil
of vengeance and violence.
Cause them to govern with the possibility of justice
and the realisation that each and every person
is valuable in the eyes and heart of God;
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Crucified and risen Lord,
Our prayers arise,
accompanied by our groans,
may your Spirit move where we have failed,
for the sake of those most in need this day
and in the days to come.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

We pray in Jesus’ name.