Child Watch® Column: "Prayers for Our Children for the New Year"

Release Date: January 2, 2015

Marian Wright Edelman

In a world rife with war, religious, racial, gender, sectarian, and political strife, when so many children lack safety, enough food, shelter, health care, and education and suffer unthinkable losses of parents to disease, violence, and war, I hope this New Year will bring adults closer to our common sense and moral responsibility for children’s well being.

If the child is well all of us are well. So I offer two prayers for the New Year.

O God of the children of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea,
Of Nigeria and Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan,
Of Iraq and Iran and Israel,
Of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala,
Of Darfur, Detroit, and Chicago,
Of Ferguson, Cleveland, and New York City
Help us to love and respect and protect them all.

O God of Black and Brown and White and Albino children and those all mixed together,
Of children who are rich and poor and in between,
Of children who speak English and Russian and Hmong and Spanish
and languages our ears cannot discern,
Help us to love and respect and protect them all.

O God of the child prodigy and the child prostitute,
Of the child of rapture and the child of rape,
Of runaway or thrown away children who struggle every day
without parent or place or friend or future,
Help us to love and respect and protect them all.

O God of children who can walk and talk and hear and see
and sing and dance and jump and play
and of children who wish they could but can’t,
Of children who are loved and unloved, wanted and unwanted,
Help us to love and respect and protect them all.

O God of beggar, beaten, abused, neglected, homeless,
and AIDS-, Ebola-, drug-, violence-, and hunger-ravaged children,
Of children who are emotionally and physically and mentally fragile,
and of children who rebel and ridicule, torment and taunt,
Help us to love and respect and protect them all.

O God of children of destiny and of despair, of war and of peace,
Of disfigured, diseased, and dying children,
Of children without hope and of children with hope to spare and to share,
Help us to love and respect and act to protect them all.

Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, the great president of Morehouse College, who shaped so many of my generation including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said: “I am disturbed, I am uneasy about men because we have no guarantee that when we train a man’s mind, we will train his heart; no guarantee that when we increase a man’s knowledge, we will increase his goodness. There is no necessary correlation between knowledge and goodness.” So I share this prayer for 21st century children of privilege.

God, help us not to raise a new generation of children
with high intellectual quotients and low caring and compassion quotients;
with sharp competitive edges but dull cooperative instincts;
with highly developed computer skills but poorly developed consciences;
with a gigantic commitment to the big “I” but little sense of responsibility to the bigger “we”;
with mounds of disconnected information without a moral context to determine its worth;
with more and more knowledge and less and less imagination and appreciation for the magic of life that cannot be quantified or computerized;
and with more and more worldliness and less and less wonder and awe for the sacred and everyday miracles of life.
God, help us to raise children who care.

Marian Wright Edelman is President of the Children's Defense Fund whose Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. For more information go to

Mrs. Edelman's Child Watch Column also appears each week on The Huffington Post.

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Here's what others have said:

Submitted by Rose at: January 6, 2015
Why is there no mention of the children of Palestine? Hundreds, perhaps thousands, were killed, maimed and orphaned in Israel's attacks on Gaza in summer 2014.

Submitted by Char at: January 4, 2015
That's quite a prayer. how sad for how many places have chilren in danger. if it is not war, its hunger and poverty, or fed with food that does not create health.go to school too tired to learn, not taught healthy routines and the value of sleep to be able to remember.without the security of a happy family. God bless these children. I sevond the request

Submitted by tina at: January 4, 2015
I hope all the people who need to read this,do. I belive we have become a society of greed, not caring for those who need the extra care, leaving generations of children who do not know how to care. Where can we began the change? Who will follow the changers. Big questions, who has the answers? We must each look into ourselves to see what we are doing to contribute to the change.

Submitted by Cheryl at: January 3, 2015
Beautifully written and said. Thought-provoking!

Submitted by Brown Eyes at: January 3, 2015
In Jesus Name Amen.

Submitted by dee at: January 3, 2015
Thanks you for this prayer. It is still power in prayer!!!

Submitted by Mk at: January 2, 2015
The prayer was beautiful. Thank you

Submitted by Lisa at: January 2, 2015
I read this prayer just in time! My 19 year old son with serious mental illness made a demanding call for some money. I left the money along with a sarcastic note on the front porch. Then I read the prayer. I replaced the sarcastic note with a stamped addressed envelope to his grandmother and suggested he write her a note. Thank you for calling forth the Christian within a weary mother.

Submitted by linda at: January 2, 2015
I would like to add to this wonderful prayer, And let us pray for a world free of gun violence, so that our children and grandchildren can grow up safe in their communities, schools and homes.

Submitted by Amy at: January 2, 2015
This is exactly what our minds should be focused on for the new year ahead. No more war. Let the healing begin. Our most precious cargo is damaged. We all must stand tall for them and act on their behalf.

Submitted by Essie at: January 2, 2015
What beautiful prayers! Thank you.

Submitted by Barb at: January 2, 2015
This is an awesome Prayer. " On Point"

Submitted by K.T. at: January 2, 2015
This prayer is beautiful!! I am going to say it and pray it each day. Please LORD watch over All of our children each second, minute and hour of each day !!

Submitted by Linda at: January 2, 2015
Many thanks for these power prayers and for your moving words on a recent video I watched. Thanks for pushing us to do what we can do and not be discouraged by what we cannot do. You are one of my inspiring guides in this life!

Submitted by jude at: January 2, 2015
thank you so much for this prayer for all children i shall place it where i see it each day of the year may it call blessings down upon each child of our world

Submitted by Stevie at: January 2, 2015
Thank you for your concern for children! Safe Kids Now and our national network would love to work with you to insure the safety and health of all children! Together, we can make a difference! Happy New Year! Stephanie Mann STOP VIOLENCE, UNITE AMERICANS WITHOUT TAXPAYER’S $$$! CITY LEADERS CAN CREATE CITYWIDE PEACE! Revenge, anger and finger pointing at police will NOT stop violent behavior. Ferguson MO and cities across the U.S., protested the death of Michael Brown and Eric Gardner. Citizens are demanding change! YOU can make a difference! Safe Kids Now and The CARR Foundation created a binder for concerned citizens. Talk to CITY LEADERS about making your city safer and healthier for families, especially youth. HOW CITY LEADERS CAN CREATE COMMUNITY PEACE! The "Safe Neighborhoods Program" binder for community, civic and church leaders can restore a healthy balance between police and citizens. Citizen leaders can educate neighbors on how to keep their families safe with neighborhood support for youth. This binder includes, mission, purpose, how to lead a meeting, training an Adopt-A-Block group, Crime Quiz, success stories, dealing with special issues, mending community-police relations, drug problems, the Adopt-a-block Guidebook, 2CD's and 100 copies of "My first steps to a safe neighborhood." INVOLVED NEIGHBORS protect youth from bullies, abuse, drugs, crime, gangs, predators, violent behavior and criminal activities. They restore hope as they create a safe environment for children to grow and thrive. (Proven methods for success) The United States has one of the highest rates for crime, violence and incarceration in the developed world. National average, 2.7 police per 1000 citizens. Citizens will assume responsibility, if they know what to do. For more information, contact Stephanie L. Mann, Founder of Safe Kids Now, Author 4 books, Crime and violence prevention consultant for 38 years at 925-451-3654 See “Media” page “It takes a village (working together) to raise a child!” African Proverb