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We Cannot Pray To You

We Cannot Pray to You

We cannot pray to You, O God,

to banish war,

for You have filled the world

with paths to peace,

if only we would take them.

We cannot pray to You

to end starvation,

for there is food enough for all,

if only we would share it.

We cannot merely pray

for prejudice to cease,

for we might see

the good in all

that lies before our eyes,

if only we would use them.

We cannot merely pray

"Root out despair,"

for the spark of hope

already waits within the human heart,

for us to fan it into flame.

We must not ask of You, O God,

to take the task that You

have given us. We cannot shirk,

we cannot flee away,

Avoiding obligation for ever.

Therefore we pray, O God,

for wisdom and will, for courage

to do and to become,

not only to look on

with helpless yearning

as though we had no strength.

For Your sake and ours

speedily and soon, let it be:

that our land may be safe,

that our lives may be blessed.

Adapted from Rabbi Jack Riemer’s New Prayers for the High Holy Days, as it appears in Gates of Repentance, pp. 363-364