Praying After Charlottesville

While we understand that one five-minute prayer can not lead anyone through a comprehensive response to this weekend’s white supremacist rallies and subsequent violence in Virginia, we do want to offer a jumping-off point for your prayers. More will come in the coming days and weeks, but please start by praying along with us now. (Pastors, ministry leaders and anyone who leads others in prayer are welcomed to use this as you wish.)

Heavenly Father, Great God, Judge of the Universe,

We pray for our country in the wake of today’s violence. Your word tells us that there is a future coming where people of every tribe and tongue will be praising you alongside one another. That is a fact. That is going to happen. And in the wake of demonstrations and violence by people who don’t want to share a country with people who don’t look like them or live like them or share their heritage, it can be easy for us to forget that your future is as real and as solid and as reliable as our present.

No effort on our part seems able to dissolve white supremacy and violent ideologies from our country. Only you can change peoples’ hearts. You hold the King’s heart in your hand, the old testament tells us, and so in a country with 300 million people steering the ship of government together, we ask you to change the hearts of those who are given over to hate and violence. Turn stone hearts into flesh.

And while we pray for you to do what only you can do, we ask you to lead us to the work you would have us do as your hands and feet. You’ve placed us in a country where we each share some of the responsibility of directing and managing the way our society is structured. We confess that we have not always taken that responsibility seriously. You’ve trusted us to use every tool in our lives to make the character of your kingdom seen and felt everywhere in the world around us, but over and over again we’ve avoided wading into parts of life that seem too big, thinking about problems that seem like they’d be too much work, doing things that seem to have too little to do with ourselves, welcoming and engaging with people who seem too different or like too much of a liability or like they would take too much energy.

Give us courage that we might not shy away from hard relationships, or daunting responsibilities. Help us to be positive influences on our communities in every dimension of life. Empower those of us who bear your son’s name, the name Christian, to live lives that shelter the vulnerable, heal the wounded, comfort the afflicted, and reconcile the broken. Help us to ensure that our communities–our churches, our neighborhoods, our towns and our counties–don’t operate according to the word of hatred–in overt ways or even in subtle ways. Help us to make your character manifested in our community’s life.

We also pray for healing. We pray for comfort for those who lost friends or family or a sense of security this weekend. We know that comfort will likely only come slowly, fitfully and fleetingly.

Many of us are tempted to anger and hatred by what happened in Charlottesville this weekend. Thank you for your assurance that a loving and just God mourns with us, mourns for us and mourns for those we would consider our enemies.

You have reserved vengeance for yourself, and poured out your wrath on your son to reconcile us to you in the face of tragedies like these.Help us to trust deeply enough in the sufficiency of what you’ve done for us through Jesus that our hearts can be moved to compassion by this weekend. Teach us to long for justice–and not to profane the word justice by using it as a synonym for vengeance.

You reconciled broken man to perfect God–please reconcile broken man to broken man.

We pray these things in the name of your son, the perfect man, Jesus Christ.

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