FaithInvest founder and CEO Martin Palmer has released a series of prayers and meditations focusing on climate change through the lens of various faiths. The six prayers have featured on BBC Radio 4's Prayer for the Day throughout the COP26 climate conference currently taking place in Glasgow.
Saturday 6 November saw a Christian prayer focusing on the idea that humankind's role in the environment is greater than that of simply being a steward. On Monday 8 November, Martin's Buddhist prayer drew on this theme, encouraging listeners: 'Let us be aware of the source of being, common to us all and to all living beings.'
On Tuesday 9 November, Martin turned to the teachings of Judaism to consider humankind's relationship with its creator and environment.
Judaism – God in all life
The Hebrew Bible confronts us with two powerful images of our relationship with God and the rest of Nature. Psalm 8 says:
4 'What is humanity that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?
5 You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.
6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands'
Yet in Job Chapter 38 God says:
2 'Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?
3 Brace yourself; I will question you, and you shall answer me.
4 Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?'
That God is the Master of the Universe is beyond question. But what are we in God’s Great plan? Are we Masters of the Earth or are we upstarts? Judaism has wrestled with this question in the light of the environmental crisis and created environmental movements which have focused, for example, on food production that is ethical, organic and healthy for all species involved, at its heart showing our affinity with all Creation. This is captured in the prayer of the 18th century Rabbi Nachman of Breslov:
'Master of the Universe: Grant me the ability to be alone; may it be my custom to go outdoors each day among the trees and grass – among all growing things and there may I be alone, and enter into prayer, to talk with the One to whom I belong. May I express there everything in my heart, and may all the foliage of the field – all grasses, trees, and plants – awake at my coming. Send the powers of their life into the words of my prayer so that my prayer and speech are made whole through the life and spirit of all growing things, which are made as one by their transcendent Source.'