Prayer is our greatest privilege. To pray is to stake our very existence, our right to live, on the truth and on the supreme importance of that which we pray for. Prayer, then, is radical commitment, a dangerous involvement in the life of God. In such awareness we pray…We do not stand alone. Millions of Americans, millions of people all over the world are with us. At this moment, praying for peace in Vietnam, we are spiritually Vietnamese. Their agony is our affliction, their hope is our commitment. God is present wherever men are afflicted. Where is God present now? We do not know how to cry, we do not know how to pray! Our conscience is so timid, our words so faint, our mercy so feeble. O Father, have mercy upon us. Our God, add our cries uttered here to the cries of the bereaved, crippled, and dying over there. Have mercy upon all of us. Help us to overcome the arrogance of power. Guide and inspire the President of the United States in finding a speedy, generous, and peaceful end to the war in Vietnam. The intensity of agony is high, the hour is late, the outrage may reach a stage where repentance will be too late, repair beyond the nation’s power. We call for a covenant of peace, for reconciliation of America and all of Vietnam. To paraphrase the words of the prophet Isaiah (62:1): For Vietnam’s sake I will not keep silent, For America’s sake I will not rest, Until the vindication of humanity goes forth as brightness, And peace for all men is a burning torch.
Suggested Discussion Questions:
1. Why does Heschel tell us that "prayer is our greatest privilege"?
2. According to the author, what is the relationship between prayer and social justice?
Time Period: Contemporary (The Yom Kippur War until the present-day)