Prayer and Ending Extreme Poverty | Sojourners

Prayer and Ending Extreme Poverty

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Faith communities have long been at the forefront of dynamic and significant change, and they’ve been a driving force behind global efforts in response to ebola, in combating HIV/AIDS, and in famine relief, to name just a few. From Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to the Dalai Lama, people of faith have helped create and sustain social movements — and have recognized the responsibilities that faith bestows.

Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, and Hindus may all express their religious faith in different ways, but each community shares its beliefs, seeks salvation, and opens its heart through its own moments of reflection and in its own places. We live in the same world — under the same sky — and, because of our shared humanity and faith, we share many of the same hopes and fears.

That’s the instinct behind the "Prayer for Everyone" movement, which we at ONE have been working on with other partners in the Project Everyone coalition.

Prayer for Everyone is engaging hundreds of millions of faithful global citizens in more than 150 countries to pray for the success of the 17 new Global Goals for Sustainable Development. The Global Goals agenda aims to eliminate extreme poverty worldwide by 2030 through an unprecedented mobilization of inspiration, dedication, and investments in elevating the world’s most vulnerable people.

The issues addressed by the Global Goals for Sustainable Development are central to all spiritual traditions:

  • The right to live a life of dignity, free from hunger and disease;
  • The right of all people to live to their fullest human potential, in safety and well-being;
  • The protection of the integrity of our shared planet and its resources for current and future generations; and
  • The shared responsibility to work together so that our expressions of faith contribute to more sustainable development.

People of faith will play a critical role in the achievement of the Global Goals, and Prayer for Everyone aims to engage them from the start.

Each faith community will know how to promote the goals in its own way and by their own means most effectively. Our guiding principle is that each of us can bring an insight — an action that will help advance them.

For example, participants can:

  • Reflect: Create space for reflection or meditation on the goals, the issues they address and what it will take for them to be achieved. Leaders can include the relevant issues (e.g. water, food, poverty, peace and justice, etc.) in worship and special services and use their social media platforms to spread awareness about the goals.
  • Study: Faith communities can devote special attention to the issues in regular study groups, or create a special study group for the week.
  • Witness: Make time during the week that the goals are adopted in New York to seek out and bear witness to the impacts of poverty, inequality, injustice, poor health, and harm to the environment. Create opportunities to respectfully engage with those most impacted in your community, listen to their voices and share them.
  • Communicate: Religious media have enormous coverage and deep penetration and are excellent vehicles to promote the goals people in virtual global dialogue. Use Twitter and Facebook to start social chain actions, and look for other ways to get the word out.
  • Act: People of faith, faith leaders, and faith-based organizations can organize or support local worship services.

Together, we believe that people of faith can make a critical difference in sharing the Global Goals — and that these, in turn, could help save millions from extreme poverty and suffering.

We hope you’ll join millions of others around the world in 2015’s Prayer for Everyone.