A Tragic Death and a Prayer for Peace
I’ve been asked this week for a copy of the prayer I prayed on Sunday. Here is an adapted (and thicker) version of what we prayed together this Sunday. May this prayer serve you as you pray this week. — Trent
A man died on the street in Minneapolis under the knee of a police officer and we saw it with our eyes. Our nation is in turmoil and our cities are on fire. Oh Lord, there are many emotions we should feel right now: sadness, anger, and grief. There are many things we should pray for this morning—for your justice, your peace, and your healing. There are also many people we should pray for.
Several come to mind.
We pray with heavy hearts for the family of George Floyd, a man made in God’s image, that you would give hope to his beloved family because of the gospel. It appears that George may have been a Christian. If his faith was in the cross the Lord Jesus, then his face is bright with his resurrected glory. Today he breathes just fine.
We pray for the officers involved in Mr. Floyd’s death and for their families. As they face the haunting prospect of a human judgment, we ask that you arrest them with the prospect of your perfect divine judgment so that they might find the full forgiveness of sins in the one who bore our judgment in himself on the cross. We do not know the motives of these men. Motives are easy for us to assign; they are far harder for us to actually discern. But you know every thought and deed. We tremble but we also take comfort in knowing that no motive will go unpunished by you.
We pray for our governing authorities, that your Word concerning human government would be honored by our nation’s president and governors, our mayors and our police chiefs. May each of them do their jobs, as hard as that may be. May they do their jobs well, as impossible as that may seem. May wise decisions win out and the best policing practices prevail.
We pray for law enforcement officers in our major cities, in particular. Protect them from harm, from disillusionment, from closing in on themselves, and from giving up on us. We thank you for the safety that we are so predictably afforded through the honorable work of these public servants. Yet they are sinners, and every instance of police-misconduct betrays our trust and undermines our peace. For this reason, we pray for the removal of problem cops from the profession, for the courage and for the policies to make that easier to do. In the face of these riots and risks to their own lives, Lord, use them to protect peaceful protestors and the vulnerable populations that need them most. Grant restraint where that is right. Protect their lives this coming night.
We pray for those whose communities are on fire. We think especially of the poor, whose pharmacies and grocery stores have been looted, who may have no means of transit. We pray for pregnant women, for single mothers, for the elderly, and for children. We think also of business-owners whose lives and livelihoods are on fire today. Make yourself known to all of these people through the tangible and timely love of churches down the street and neighbors down the hall.
We pray for those citizens entrusted with the responsibility of carrying out our process of justice, for attorneys and judges and for juries. We ask that your Word would be honored in the process of human justice that unfolds in the weeks and months ahead. Keep us mindful that while injustice happens in moments, the best of our human justice takes time. Because of our limitations as humans, and our sinful tendency to multiply injustices, help us see patience and due process as a means to the justice we rightly demand. May the truth concerning Mr. Floyd’s death be plain, and may justice be served.
We pray for minority communities who for any number of reasons—including tragic encounters with the police, past and present—know a troubled relationship with law enforcement. Lord we ask that vulnerable populations would have good reason to trust that their law enforcement serves their best interests. Restore trust wherever it has been broken in our community and abroad.
We pray for peaceful protestors, that they would be understood and heard, and that their goals would be noble and clear. We thank you, Lord, for our constitutional freedom of peaceful protest. While we may disagree on the cause of one protest or another, we pray that the importance of this freedom would not be among our disagreements.
We pray against those with nefarious purposes—those who kill, steal, and destroy. We have been confused and frustrated at the number and complexity of bad actors this past week. Some are organized and cruel, others are selfish and opportunistic. While so much is so unclear, we know who stands behind every menacing design.
We pray for our country and for peace between neighbors. The killing of Mr. Floyd has opened old wounds and enflamed old hatreds. May the truth that we are all made in your image prevail over every sinister idea that undermines our shared dignity as humans. May the truth the we are sinners humble us all to acknowledge our shared propensity to boasting, selfish ambition, envy, partiality, unlistening ears, and lying lips. When sin tears neighbors apart, remind us of the only one who can truly bring any of us together: Jesus.
We pray for the local church in the city of Minneapolis, and for the saints at Bethlehem Baptist Church in particular. Strengthen Jason Meyer who will preach this morning, and Andy Naselli, a friend of this church, along with the rest of their elders. Unite Bethlehem’s members in faith, hope, and in love as they organize themselves to care for their neighbors in tangible ways even this afternoon.
We pray for our church here in Greenville. We need your gentleness, your self-control, and your reconciliation. We need your joy, your forgiveness, and your faithfulness. We need your long-suffering, your patience, and your goodness. We need faith, hope, and love. Grow us in all of these things by your Spirit.
We long to see your justice, to know your peace, and to experience your healing. Even more, we long to see Jesus’ face. May it shine on us today, and may he shine forth from us until the day he comes.
It’s in his name we pray,