Give peace in our time, O Lord. Because there is none other that fighteth for us, but only thou, O God.
Ever heard these words before? They come from the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer, but they resemble prayers found in the liturgies of most Christian traditions. The liturgical petition for peace would have been on the lips of folks in what might be the oldest continuous Christian congregation: The Church of The Nativity in Bethlehem, dedicated in 339. This means that for at least 1,675 years, in at least one place on this globe, someone has asked God to heal our violent world. Let's make the incredibly conservative supposition that they averaged only one prayer for peace per week.
The word used for "peace" obviously changed sounds, depending on the person making the request. It might have sounded like shlama, salām, or shalom, if there wasn't a Roman using pax or a Greek using eirēnē. Let's stick with the Semitic languages for the moment. The common consonants in each case are S-L-M. Those letters show up in the the city of Jerusalem, and the faith called Islam. Chew on that for a bit as you watch today's news, where some folks who adhere to Islam might cheer in response to a rocket attack on Jerusalem. In any case, if the alleged deity is wise enough to create the world, this same being is surely able to translate the petitions of the no less than 87,000 times when at least somebody spoke a prayer for S-L-M from within a church that, today, is an hour and a half bus ride south by bus south from in the capital of the the over-promised land. For fun, try asking Google Maps for driving directions: even the god of search engines can't sort this thing out!
Perhaps prayer doesn't work. Or maybe it takes too much work for it to work. Might we need another millennium and a half before these requests take? When should we just give up? After all, this prayer business seems pretty inefficient when it comes to the big stuff. Then again, it's nice to have peaceful and positive thoughts in our hearts and minds, right. So, do you ever pray just in case someone's out there listening?