Hurting City, Hurting Nation

[Editor’s Note: Pastor David Mathis led our congregation in this prayer during our recent corporate worship gathering.]

Father in heaven,

We come before you this morning as citizens of a confused and hurting city, in a confused and hurting nation, asking for your clarity and your healing. 

As we grieve the deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, and Philando Castile in our own city, and five officers in Dallas, and various manifestations of violence around the country, we do not grieve as those without hope. You are the God of truth. And you are the God of justice. And you are the God of peace — and you are the Father of Jesus Christ, and so with confidence we draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in this time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

You indeed are the God of truth. You are truth. Your Son is the truth. Your word is truth. You love the truth — and as your people, we love the truth. We pray that the power of truth will reign and track down every deceiver.

And you are the God of justice. Justice is justice because of you. You are the final standard of what is just and right. You are a God of uncompromising justice. Will not the judge of all the earth do what is just? (Genesis 18:25). Yes, every wrong will be righted. Every injustice will be avenged. One day whatever is said in the dark will be heard in the light, and whatever is whispered in private rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops (Luke 12:3).

And Father, you are the God of peace. For now, Satan may prowl around like a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8), cultivating his pockets of chaos and dispersing his seeds of discord. But one day soon you, the God of peace, will crush Satan under our feet (Romans 16:20). We pray not only for understanding, but also for “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

And so in these days of deception, and injustice, and unrest, we make our plea — somberly and confidently— before the all-knowing God of truth, the almighty God of justice, the all-comforting God of peace.

And as we humble ourselves before you, and before our fellow man, as sinners all with no right to cast the first stone, we do want to be agents of your truth, justice, and peace. Root out racism from all our systems, all our agencies, all our institutions — and begin with our own hearts, we ask. And save us from violence — which begins with the hatred latent in our own selves. Act in your mercy to protect the innocent and thwart every act of unjust retaliation.

Father, grant us your grace to be a small part of the solution to such massive problems. Give us the patience for the seed-sowing of gospel witness and faithful disciplemaking — not just words in the moment, but weeks, months, years, decades of the patient planting and nourishing of gospel seeds that root out, undercut, and displace the pull of racism and violence.

Renew us in how we think and feel, in what we say and don’t say, to whom we initiate and befriend, and with how we teach our children and model for the next generation how to orient on this sin-sick world with your grace.

We need you. Our city needs you. Our nation needs you. Open your truth, your justice, and your peace to us now as we come to your word. 

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.