As animal advocates, we sometimes get discouraged thinking about what a cruel place the world can be. We don’t understand how even other Christians fail to see when their actions cause God’s creation to suffer, and most of us have probably been tempted to ask—like Matthew West did in his aptly named song—“God, why don’t you do something?”
But we know that He did, of course. He is the one who created us, and He is the one who called us to this purpose. We can tackle these challenges, and we can win for animals with God’s help.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed and disheartened, remember Philippians 4:6:
“[D]o not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
God never said that prayers should be reserved just for humans and their sick dogs and cats. The Bible actually says the opposite in Ecclesiastes 3:18-21:
“I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts. For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return. Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth?”
All of God’s animals (including humans) are precious to Him. All are worthy of consideration, respect, and prayer. Ecclesiastes 3:22 goes on:
“So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot. Who can bring him to see what will be after him?”
Protecting and caring for God’s creation is the work that we’ve been called to do. And while it may not be easy, we have to remain thankful that He has chosen us for something so important and trust that He will bless us with the ability to do it.
We asked some PETA LAMBS members to share how they talk to God about animal liberation. Here’s what they said:
- “I pray for strength and courage whenever I’m about to have a conversation with someone about animal rights. And of course, I always ask God to soften their hearts and open their eyes.”
- “I often pray for PETA’s fieldworkers and the staff at my local animal shelter, who are doing some of the toughest jobs imaginable.”
- “My priest reads prayer requests aloud during Mass, so I submit requests for sick and suffering animals. It’s a good reminder that God loves them as well.”
- “As a writer at PETA, I ask God to give me the words that will make people understand.”
- “I say a prayer every time I pass the body of an animal who has been killed on the road, asking God to alleviate any pain and make his or her passing swift, because God is omnipotent and not bound by our perception of time. But if there is any doubt, I always check to make sure that the animal has indeed passed and is not alive and suffering!”
- “I pray about the cases that PETA is working on. Not to take any credit from them, but I will say that right after I started praying about the horrible Professional Laboratory and Research Services case, the lab was shut down and the animals were freed.”
- “I talk to God about animals who are hunted and ask that they and their families evade the hunters and escape unharmed.”
- “I pray the Liturgy of the Hours, and the psalmist’s words aptly express—in human language—what other animals must feel. Some Psalms strike me as poignant for those raised and killed for food and others for those caged in labs or zoos, abused for their coats or skin, languishing in the pet trade, chained in a backyard, or sitting alone in a dark apartment, wondering when their guardian will finally come home and care for them. The Psalms give me the words to convey to God my deep worry and hurt for other animals—and to call on God to free those captives, to tend to those oppressed, and, yes, to humble and correct the proud and wicked of their cruelty.”
- “After my cat passed, I’ve been asking to be able to see her happy in heaven when I sleep.”
- “I love the Daily Prayer app, and often the devotion will relate to animals. Here’s one that I recently read: ‘Dear God most high, hear and bless Thy beasts and singing birds. And guard with tenderness small things that have words.’”
And they’re not alone. Christian author Bob Hostetler offered this lovely supplication:
Prayer for Animals in Need
you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power.
You created all things for your glory,
yet there are those in your Creation who languish in pain and suffering.
Please look kindly upon those animals who are in need this day,
whether they are in the wild, on the streets, in captivity, or elsewhere.
Deliver those who are hurt, abused, hungry, and forgotten.
Please grant that they may be treated with the loving care and respect all your Creation deserves,
in the name of Jesus, amen.
Theologian and Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Schweitzer summed it up beautifully:
Dear God, protect and bless all beings that breathe, keep all evil from them, and let them sleep in peace. Amen.
This prayer for compassion is found in many Catholic prayer books:
Hear our humble prayer, O God,
for our friends, the animals,
especially for those who are suffering;
for animals that are overworked,
underfed, and cruelly treated;
for all the wistful creatures in captivity,
that beat their wings against bars;
for any that are hunted or lost or deserted,
or frightened or hungry;
for all that must be put to death.
We entreat for them all
Thy mercy and pity,
and for those who deal with them,
we ask a heart of compassion
and gentle hands and kindly words.
Make us, ourselves,
to be true friends to animals
and so to share
the blessings of the Merciful.
St. Basil the Great prayed this liturgy:
O God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all living things, for our brothers and sisters, the inarticulate beasts, to whom Thou gave the earth as their home in common with us. We remember with shame that in the past we have exercised the high dominion of humanity with ruthless cruelty so that the voice of the earth, which should have gone up to thee in song has become a groan of anguish and a cry of torment. May we realize that they live not for us alone, but for themselves and for Thee, and that they too love the sweetness of life. Amen.
And St. Isaac of Nineveh pleaded for a “charitable heart” for all humans:
What is a charitable heart? It is a heart which is burning with charity for the whole of creation, for men, for the birds, for the beasts, for the demons—for all creatures. He who has such a heart cannot see or call to mind a creature without his eyes becoming filled with tears by reason of the immense compassion which seizes his heart; a heart which is softened and can no longer bear to see or learn from others of any suffering, even the smallest pain, being inflicted upon a creature. This is why such a man never ceases to pray also for the animals, for the enemies of Truth, and for those who do him evil, that they may be preserved and purified. He will pray even for the reptiles, moved by the infinite pity which reigns in the hearts of those who are becoming united to God. … Lord, give me and all the world a heart such as this. Amen.
Talk to God about your feelings, and if you get discouraged and wonder whether He is hearing your prayers, reread these verses to be reminded of just how precious His animals are to Him.
Psalm 145: 9, 16
The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. . . . You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety.
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
If you have a special prayer that you like to pray for God to help heal our relationship with animals and His creation, please share it with us in the comments.