A prayer for our civil unrest

June 3, 2020 | 6 Comments

Reflection:

In light of this past weekend’s events — protests and demonstrations, some peaceful and others giving way to riots and looting — following the murder of George Floyd, it is a vital time for those who believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful, sovereign, righteous, and redeeming God to pray. These are not easy things to pray about, for a number of reasons, but it is clear that we need to go to our Savior when sin and pain are literally burning the world around us. The following is to help us pray, though you should feel free to pray differently or beyond what is written here:

Father in heaven, who made all things, we remember that you created all things good. It was you who designed us for peace with you and for community with one another. You created man in your likeness and all of us are fearfully and wonderfully made. Help us remember that as we see the brokenness around us. Remind us that your heart is saddened and angered by unrighteousness and injustice.

Father, we pray for the families and friends of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others who have experienced these recent tragedies. Whatever the full stories may have been, teach us to mourn their deaths as you would. Bring the bereaved families comfort and peace as only you can. Thank you that someone like George Floyd’s own brother can be a voice of peace during prayer vigils and other responses meant to point to the hope you provide. We pray that the voices that point to your peace, your justice, and your love would cut through those that incite division and hate.

We pray for those hit hardest by the recent riots — mostly small business owners already crippled by the ongoing pandemic. We pray that you would demonstrate your healing through those churches that have helped clean their stores and fix their shops. We pray that you protect our fellow citizens from wanton violence and senseless acts of vandalism and thievery.

God, we pray that Christians, especially in the cities hit hard by angry rioting, would be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, as you have called us to be. Let compassion and empathy come quickly from us, and let us be slow to judge or blame. Let us honor truth and be set free by it, but let us be known for our love.

God of peace, we pray that you would bring healing to race relations in our nation and in the places we live. Help us acknowledge any racism and prejudice in us — any way of thinking of our fellow human beings that does not measure up to your view of them. Forgive Christians of every race for turning the “other” into our enemy rather than our neighbor. Teach us also to be angered by racism in the way that you would be, that we would not excuse it, deny it, or delay response to it. 

We pray for our black brothers and sisters in the church who are especially angry and full of grief. We pray you would be their salve and their justice. We lament the many and abhorrent injustices people of color have so often faced in this nation, and we ask you to bring healing and protection to communities living in unrest and fear as a result of them. Teach us how to stand beside those hurting and not idly by. Rather than giving way to worldly movements, let it be known especially in the church that black lives matter.

We thank you for the many, many policemen and women who do stand to protect and serve their cities and their communities, and we pray for your protection for their sake. We thank you for those who knelt and prayed with protesters this weekend, showing not only a glimmer of hope, but reliance upon you for peace.

We also lament that there are those who will use authority and power to bring harm and pain to others, or who lose sight of their civic responsibility because of ego or personal issues, and we ask that you would allow justice and good reason to prevail over them. We also thank you for the many ordinary citizens, especially those who are your children, who are quietly and faithfully loving their neighbor in the midst of this storm.

Teach us to do good as you have told us: to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before you, O God. We know in all these things, however complex and entrenched, whoever started it and whoever is justified, it is Christ who came to die that we might be saved from it. We thank you that Jesus broke down the dividing walls that come as we seek to justify ourselves, as we define our righteousness at the expense of others.

We thank you that Jesus has gifted the church in all places with your life-giving Spirit, so that in the midst of what feels like death, you might breathe new life though the faithful ministry of your people. We place our hope squarely upon Christ Jesus; salvation belongs to him. In Christ’s just and compassionate name we pray, Amen.

Response:

  1. Read this prayer from John Piper, whose church is in Minneapolis, where George Floyd was murdered.

  2. Read this prayer from Kevin DeYoung, given at his church in Charlotte this past weekend.

6 COMMENTS

Russ and Debi Newcombe

Jun 5, 2020

We agree with you and are thankful to you for giving a voice to our prayers.
May God's Love and Blessings continue to fill you and our fellow believers.

Anna Flynn

Jun 4, 2020

Thank you, Woonny! The prayer you wrote and the two you shared are helpful guides as we do the important work of praying and considering how to respond to the hurt and chaos around us. I'm grateful that our church isn't avoiding these difficult conversations.

Brandon Flynn

Jun 4, 2020

Thanks for this, Woonny, particularly for the call to stand with those that are hurting.

Many of our African American brothers and sisters in Christ have been pleading with us for a long time now to listen to and believe them, lament with them, and to stand against injustice and oppression. Because we worship the God who hears the cries of the oppressed and works justice for them. May the Spirit move the Evangelical church to have eyes and ears to see and hear the oppressed in our midst, to care for them and through this to demonstrate the healing of the Gospel.

Darrick Johnson

Jun 3, 2020

Thank you, Woonny! Well said!

Dave Toerper

Jun 3, 2020

Glory to God for your help with our prayers, Woonny, as we find ourselves citizens of this deeply, troubled country. Such a strange land.

Dillinger Jeanne

Jun 3, 2020

So needed, thank you. I feel my supplications to GOD are weak and incomplete, yet I know that my heart's anguish is heard. PBTG

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