Rosalind Bradley editor, A World of Prayer, Orbis Books, 2012, £16.99 (available from Alban Books)
This is a resource both for personal prayer and reflection, as well as being suitable for public celebrations of the Church’s commitment to announcing the coming Reign of God in the key of Peace, Justice and Wholiness.
The contributors are living witnesses to what they and others of other faith traditions are doing to build up a society and a planet where human life and community can flourish according to the vision of God. We know many of them: Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela; The Dalai Lama and the Archbishop of Canterbury; Pete Seeger and Yusuf Islam; Hans Kung and Tariq Ramadan—100 in all. Each prayer comes with a brief biographical note on the contributor plus a brief personal commentary/reflection on the prayer.
One of the features you will notice is how each prayer expresses sentiments, desires and longings which cut across the frontiers of each faith. If you were to cover the first line in which the God of the tradition represented is addressed, you would not easily distinguish which tradition is uttering the prayer. Ecumenism blooms and flourishes in prayer which batters down walls of dogma and hierarchy.
Prayer is a universal human activity in which our common humanity becomes attentive to the horizon of transcendence, the depth of being and the sighs of creation. It articulates our human need for the sacred and prepares us for social action. It also reminds us that we are not called to change the world—God and the Reign announced by Christ are sufficient for that. Rather we are called to be the change we are struggling for.
Justice and Peace activists will draw inspiration and energy from this collection of prayer. There is nothing neither mawkish nor saccharine here. The prayers come from the coalface remembered in the deep-down of us where we draw living water and are known by God.