Some asked Allah to bestow wisdom on the leaders of the United States and Iraq during the Middle East crisis. Others prayed that Yahweh would give courage and strength to the soldiers and their families. Still others prayed that Christ would unify all nations.
And they all prayed for peace.
The occasion was a service yesterday afternoon in Silver Spring, where about 100 Muslims, Christians and Jews assembled at the Muslim Community Center to pray that the crisis in the Persian Gulf doesn't ignite into war.
As the prospect of negotiations between Iraqi and U.S. leaders grew increasingly uncertain, some participants felt the service couldn't have been better timed.
"The morning headlines made me feel like this event was even more urgent," said the Rev. Clark Lobenstine, executive director of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, which organized the service. "God makes things possible that we cannot make possible."
Lobenstine said the idea for the service grew out of a meeting of the Interfaith Conference's executive board last Monday. The conference tries to bring Muslims, Christians and Jews together to tackle issues concerning the metropolitan area.
In addition to prayers, there were readings from the Bible and the Koran and moments of silent reflection during the 30-minute event. Christians with crosses, Jews wearing yarmulkes and Muslims with tarbooshes on their heads sat side by side, bowing their heads and saying amens in unison.
"As hundreds of thousands of human beings look at their brothers and sisters over the barrels of guns, cannons and missiles, help us to hear your voice, which counsels compassion, patience and rational discourse," said Simeon M. Kriesberg, of the Jewish Community Council. "How long, oh loving God, will we continue to kill in your name?"
Abdur Rahman Al-Amoudi, executive director of the American Muslim Council, prayed that God would give President Bush and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein "humility, wisdom and good judgment."
Gerald Poe, a Vietnam veteran and a Muslim, said he was hopeful there would be a peaceful resolution to the Middle East crisis because "war is a no-win situation."
"I don't see war as the answer. I don't see how it would help," said Poe, a resident of Silver Spring. "If there were war in the Middle East, I don't think it'll be a one-day skirmish. It'll be a long, drawn-out affair. And it'll create more tension."
Poe said he hoped that events such as yesterday's service would help Americans see that "Islam and Muslims are not terrorists, ferocious, anti-American, anti-peace. Saddam Hussein does not represent Islam. He is just one man."
Others weren't as optimistic that the crisis can end without war, especially with planned talks between Iraq and the United States in jeopardy because the two sides can't agree on a meeting date.
"Bush is not going to give in, and Saddam is not going to give in," said the Rev. H. Hartford Brookins, a bishop with the African Methodist Episcopal church. "If you can't settle it with words, you settle it with blood. If you don't settle it at the bargaining table, you settle it on the battlefield."