The Church of England has issued a prayer for the people of Iraq for use by parishes and congregations across Britain.
The move looks likely to widen the growing gulf between the Church and the British government's policy over Iraq.
The prayer is one of a selection which have the theme of world peace and are available on a Church of England website.
The short piece, called "For the Peoples of Iraq", by Fleur Dorrell opens with the lines: "Lord, we pray fervently for the people of Iraq facing the horror of a full-scale war, and for those people who may be called upon to fight.
Help us to persuade world leaders to continue negotiations."
The Archbishop of York, David Hope, writing in a letter sent to parishes a week before Christmas, said: "In October the House of Bishops 'urged the British Government and the international community to pursue all available peaceful means towards resolving the crisis with Iraq' and 'that to undertake a preventative war against Iraq at this juncture would be to lower the threshold for war unacceptability'."
"I am writing to encourage parishes, congregations and individuals to pray for peace at Epiphany (January 6). This is an appropriate season in which so to focus our prayer," he added.
The Iraq prayer in full reads:
"Lord, we pray fervently for the people of Iraq
facing the horror of a full-scale war,
and for those people who may be called upon to fight.
Help us to persuade world leaders to continue negotiations.
Help all of us: individuals, nations, governments and world leaders
to remember --
the unnecessary loss of life for millions of innocent people,
the scale of human suffering that war brings,
the right of Iraqi people to determine their own future,
the gross violations of human rights and crimes against humanity
that are committed in the name of war,
nobody has total power over any country or its people but God alone.
Let us be open to God's words in our forthcoming decisions and try not to be God ourselves."