How to Pray Against Racial Hostility

Where I live in B.C., the smoky haze is finally clearing, and I can actually see some blue sky this morning! Yet as a province we’re still in a state of emergency due to wildfires continuing to rage out of control in some areas, with more evacuation orders issued over the weekend. So I’ve been trying to pray for rain, for all the firefighters and other emergency workers, for those who have been evacuated, for those who have lost their homes, for all those affected by the devastating fires.

At the same time, I’ve been thinking about the state of emergency that’s been declared in Charlottesville, Virginia–not from forest fires, but due to the fires of racial hostility. I’ve never been to the University of Virginia in Charlottesville–although my husband and I once lived about an hour away in Richmond, Virginia–but I’m horrified at the thought of several hundred white supremacists marching at night through the campus with torches and shouting, “You will not replace us.” What’s more, the rally sparked violence that led to the death of one woman, injured at least 19 other people, there’s now a civil rights investigation, and all kinds of outrage.

As I’ve followed this news with great dismay, I’ve been trying to pray about that too. As Ed Stetzer writes for Christianity Today: 

When what we see grieves us, our first course of action should always be prayer. No amount of activism and tweeting can replace going before the One who can heal all the brokenness in this world. As church leaders, we pray alone, we pray in groups, and equally importantly, we lead our congregations in prayer, encouraging each person to plead for those who are being hurt.

Prayer is critical–to appeal to God and express our deep grief, anger, and outrage, and to undergird the way we express all of that in the way we live. Our prayers do not end at the ceiling, our prayers are more than words or silence or imagination, as they become embodied in acts of justice and peace.

Just as we pray about the things that grieve us and that grieve the heart of God, we also need to speak up and speak out, to reach out to others and take action.

So while prayer is a first step, our active response does not end with prayer, so please click through to read the rest of Ed Stetzer’s article: #Charlottesville, the Christian Response, and Your Church’s Call. This is just one article I happened to read this morning, and I welcome other recommended links in the comments.

Below are some prayer resources that I’ve found helpful. The first prayer was written and shared by a pastor in Charlottesville, the second written as a congregational litany. That and most of the other prayers are brief excerpts, so please click through to the complete versions. See also these other articles that are part of my How to Pray When You Can’t Find the Words series: for peace, for public tragedy, for your enemies.

 

Winn Collier, Charlottesville

Almighty God, who in the person of Jesus knows exactly what it is to endure evil and to be murdered by rage, we ask you to come and help us and to be near to Charlottesville in our crushing sorrow. We ask these things with tears and boldness in the name of Jesus, who with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, rules and reigns over our city and our church and our streets, now and forever. Amen.

 

Rich Villodas, Missio Alliance

Leader: Lord, we ask that you would form us to be peacemakers. May we be people who speak the truth in love as we work for a reconciled world.

Congregation: Oh Lord, only you can make all things new.

Leader: Lord we commit our lives to you, believing that you are working in the world in spite of destructive powers and principalities. Bring healing to those who are hurt, peace to those who are anxious, and love to those who are fearful. We wait for you, O Lord. Make haste to help us.

Congregation: Oh Lord, only you can make all things new.

 

The Book of Common Prayer

O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth: deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Martin Luther King, Jr.

O God, we thank you for the lives of great saints and prophets in the past, who have revealed to us that we can stand up amid the problems and difficulties and trials of life and not give in. We thank you for our foreparents, who’ve given us something in the midst of the darkness of exploitation and oppression to keep going. Grant that we will go on with the proper faith and the proper determination of will, so that we will be able to make a creative contribution to this world. In the name and spirit of Jesus we pray.

 

Pax Christi Anti-Racism Team

Create in us a new mind and heart that will enable us to see brothers and sisters in the faces of those divided by racial categories.

Give us the grace and strength to rid ourselves of racial stereotypes that oppress some of us while providing entitlements to others.

 

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,

    hallowed be your name.

     Your kingdom come.

    Your will be done,

        on earth as it is in heaven.


Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

Where there is injury, pardon.

Where there is doubt, faith.

Where there is despair, hope.

Where there is darkness, light.

Where there is sadness, joy.

 

Writing/Reflection Prompt: What are you praying for today?

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Categories: Spiritual Practice

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13 replies

  1. Beautiful. Thank you! Sharing this….Prayer, Action, in the Name of Jesus.

  2. April, my heart was heavy this morning as I listened to the news from US about racial violence. Your reminder to pray gives me a measure of peace. Thank you!

    • Thank you for your thoughtful article, April, which has encouraged me this morning in the face of this terrible tragedy in Virginia. It is overwhelming for me to realize that attitudes that lead to acts of racial violence like this still exist…..and so close to home. Thank you for the reminder that God still reigns over our cities and our universe and He is able to squelch the powers of darkness that strive to shake our faith and tear us down. Thank you for reminding us that we need to continue to speak up for others and work for peace and justice. Amen

      • Yes, the news is indeed frightening and overwhelming –the march of white supremacists is so publicly hostile, and there have been many more horrors both public and behind the headlines. Yet even in these trials, God still reigns. So we lament and pray and in the words of Micah 6:8 seek to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.

  3. Thank you, April. The sin of racism is difficult to erase. Just when it seems we are making progress, it erupts again. Sometimes in my own heart, not even realizing it was there. I thank God for those who work for peace and unity, including my son in Seattle. May we seek the Lord’s help to bring justice into our own little communities. Blessings, Mary

  4. I find it very difficult to read your posts. I need to read it on my cell phone and that makes the script very small. If I enlarged it, I have to move the page back and forth to read each line and often the writing disappears.

    • oh, Eunice, I’m sorry to hear that! My website is already optimized for reading on different devices, so what you would need to do is to make an adjustment on your phone. Just go to “settings,” then look for “accessibility,” and find “fonts.” You should be able to change the font to large or extra large. That should solve the problem–at least it did for me. Hope it works for you!

  5. I’m so thankful for all the above encouraging comments. May we remain faithful to keep on praying because God DOES hear our prayers.

Trackbacks

  1. FRIDAY FAVORITES: CONTEMPLATIVE RESPONSES TO CHARLOTTESVILLE | The Contemplative Writer
  2. BGWG 4: Nonviolence | MennoNerds

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