I came across this prayer in “The Oxford Book of Prayer” edited by George Appleton in 1985. Appleton gives us no more context than this: prayer of 11-year-old child on hearing the Sino-Indian border fighting. We don’t know which side of the border the child was on. We don’t know their ethnicity. We don’t know their religious identity or gender. We don’t know, even, what decade this child is praying from, except that it is a prayer from anytime after the Sino-Indian border fighting began in 1914 and before the 1985 publication date of the prayer book. All we know is their urgent hope: God, make the world last.
A new generation of young pre-teen boys and girls are praying this same prayer today after 20 Indian and unreported numbers of Chinese soldiers died in hand-to-hand combat last month along that same long-fought-for border between India and China, a remnant of British Colonialism. But it doesn’t take a border dispute to pray this prayer: any time our worlds begin to collapse, we pray, “Lord, make this world last as long as possible.” Some days it feels like the world won’t last when the small microcosm of our own world crumbles: a loved one dies, a job is lost, a friendship falls apart, a new diagnosis changes the whole family’s way of life. Sometimes it feels like the world won’t last when a fast spreading disease changes the landscape of our lives, the fabric of our social connectedness, and the economic realities that keep us fed, clothed, and sheltered. Sometimes it feels as if the world won’t last and yet we have hope, so, we pray with that 11 year old child:
Let us pray:
Lord, make this world to last as long as possible.
—Prayer of 11-year-old child on hearing of Sino-Indian border fighting