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A Prayer for a Nation on Fire

May 30, 2020
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Julio Cortez /AP

Gracious Father,

In this hour of darkness, we pray for our nation.

Our people are hurting, our cities are burning. For there is a fire that has plagued this nation since its inception, the smoldering hatred of racism.

How long will our headlines read: another unarmed black man killed by white people with no consequences?

How long must people of color fear for their lives while participating in the most ordinary of tasks—running, bird-watching, sitting in your own home, answering your own door?

How long will our systems, rhythms, and social expectations privilege some races and classes over others?

How long will those with power prefer order over justice?

We lament the violence and wanton recklessness of the riots destroying neighborhoods and cities, and pray for protection and safety for those so directly impacted. Evil cannot drive out evil; only good can do that (Rom. 12:21).

We denounce those who would take advantage of the searing wound of racism to stir up trouble or use this moment as an opportunity for selfish gain.

But let us not be deaf to the cries of our brothers and sisters of color. This has gone on too long. Enough is enough.

Would your Spirit move in this country to restore a baseline of decency and brotherly kindness that recognizes the intrinsic value of every person of every color and nationality at every stage of life, for all humanity is made in your image.

Would your Spirit bring a movement of repentance in our nation, such that we as a people can no longer tolerate racial bias and prejudice, not only in personal human hearts, but in our human systems and institutions that have long allowed this sin to smolder and offered shelter to those who feed it oxygen to renew its flames.

Would your church be a voice of justice and a place of safety, a people ready to stand against all expressions of sin, ready to comfort all those wounded by its flames, ready to lock arms with our communities to address these wrongs, and ready to offer the healing salve of the gospel of God’s salvation.

For in Jesus, we confess that there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all (Col. 3:11). “For [Christ] himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility . . . that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility” (Eph. 2:14-16).

In Christ alone is there hope for lasting peace with God and neighbor, a peace that endures beyond this moment and this world and spans eternity. As our nation burns from the fires of racism and the fires of riots, may your Spirit bring that peace, and may your people be moved by your gospel.

With a heart of mercy, may we weep with those who weep and hear their cries for help.

With a heart of indignation, may we stand with the oppressed and say to the powers of evil, ‘No more!’

With a heart of repentance, may we own our part in the problem, plead for mercy and forgiveness, and be part of the solution.

With a heart of compassion, may we lay down our lives to serve our neighbors and come alongside the vulnerable.

With a heart of conviction, may we speak God’s word in truth and love, and may those words comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

With a heart of joy, may we hold forth Christ as the greatest treasure this world affords.

Hear these prayers in the righteous and compassionate name of Jesus. Amen.

 

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