A Lament

January 13, 2021 /
A Lament

All of us in the United States (and indeed, around the world) are still processing the events we witnessed in Washington D.C. last week.

Because the Chalmers Center is focused on church-based solutions to material poverty, we do not make partisan political statements, nor do we speak to specific policy issues—though we do commend to you the work of those like the Center for Public Justice who do devote themselves to providing biblically-informed policy research and civic education.

On rare occasions—which seem to be popping up a lot these days!—we have made efforts to offer biblical, practical, and church-centered responses to the national conversation, hoping to help the local church cope with the unusual moments it is facing. In 2020, these moments included the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crash and protests against racial injustice.

This is another one of those moments. Because of our commitment to the local church and its testimony, we emphatically and unequivocally condemn the mixing of the name of Jesus Christ with this insurrection. Furthermore, to see crosses, fish symbols, and the name of Jesus in the same photographs as confederate flags, nooses, and holocaust-denying slogans calls to mind the darkest times in our nation’s history. We must speak out as members of Christ’s church to say emphatically that this is evil.

In this moment, we continue to be drawn back to prayer. Our team has found ourselves called to stop and pray multiple times in this last week. Current events call once again for lament. So we lament—for the brokenness on display in our country; for the complicity in violence and destruction of those who claim the name of Jesus; for great injustices; for politics that puts the proud and mighty before the weak and marginalized. But the moment also calls for prayers of hope and longing for the all-encompassing shalom that comes only through our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is in that spirit that we offer this prayer and invite you to pray with us.

O God Almighty, heaven is Your throne and the earth is Your footstool. You are the one in whose hand the hearts of the kings of this earth are as streams of water that You direct where you will. You are the one who has entered into our pain through Christ Jesus our Lord and the one who reigns on High. Lord, hear our prayer.

Father, as we witness the heartache of political division that spills into rage and violence, we cry out in pain and sorrow. Jesus, we cry out for Your rule and reign as king to be manifest, even as we see the works of sinful humans and of the devil on display. Holy Spirit, we cry out for the eyes of our hearts as a people to be opened to see our sins and to see our hope in You and nowhere else. We see that Your will is not done on earth as in heaven, that the poor are mocked and that your name is carried in vain, and so we cry out to You as You have taught us to pray. Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, we turn to You in this time, as we should in every time, because You hold the words of life and the truth. You are the one in whom all things hold together. You have promised to reconcile all things by the blood of Your cross, to make all things new, to wipe away our tears, and to make Your dwelling place again with us. As You have been faithful in all generations, we ask You to fulfill your promises in Your church today. Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, we beg you to grant Your hope and peace to the people of the United States of America. We long not for the shallow peace of quiet streets, but for the peace that comes from You—Your shalom that makes all things new under your righteous reign. We long to see Your body, the church, and every member thereof in our land renewed with Your spirit of peace. We long to see churches teach Your heart for the poor and commit themselves to lift up the weak rather than to prop up the mighty. We cry out for Your people to be a witness to Your kingdom—to a city whose foundation and builder is You, that is vaster and richer than any vision offered by earthly politics. We lament the spirit of division that prevents those who call themselves Your children from listening to, learning from, and making sacrifices for each other. We cry out as brothers and sisters are bewitched by falsehoods and conspiracies even as we recognize our complicity in their loneliness and despair. Lord, hear our prayer.

If, O Lord, You are not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance, then we beg that You would allow repentance to flow forth from this land—from those who have incited and perpetrated violence, from those who have stood silent as evil was plotted, and from those who have been consumed with our own comfort rather than the deep needs of our neighbors. We do not wish evil to any of these, but Lord we ask that You would cast down Satan and all his works, and remove the blindness of demonic forces from our land. We name the devil as the true enemy of peace, and pray that You would enable us to love our brothers and sisters even as we long for repentance and justice. If You would mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? Let us therefore watch with humility against our own pride and hatred. Lord, hear our prayer.

Lord, we lift our petition to you, knowing that You hear our prayer. Lord we carry our pain to You, knowing that You are sufficient to hold it and able to comfort. Lord we carry our grievances to You, knowing that You are holy and just and able to do more than we ask or imagine. Lord, hear our prayer.

God, we pray that You would cleanse us and fit us to follow your ways and do Your works. Seek out our hidden sins, and purge unrighteous, vindictive anger from among us. Lord, give us the words and heart to praise You in the darkness, and the strength to rejoice when You show Your power and answer the prayers of your people. Lord, hear our prayer.

O Lord who holds the power of resurrection, may You breathe new life into the church in the United States, to every denomination and every local congregation, that we may speak Your truth fully and walk in all your ways. Forgive us for the blaspheming of Your name among the nation by our words and actions. Grant us repentance and the fruit of it in our lives. Lord, hear our prayer.

We long to see churches united in such a time of division, but only united in allegiance to King Jesus and guided by the full counsel of His Word. This is the vision that continues to guide our work.

Scriptures referenced: Isaiah 66:1; Proverbs 21:1; Luke 11:2-4; Ps. 73:7-9; John 6:68-69; Col. 1:13-20; Ps. 89:1; Rev. 21:2-5; Heb. 11:10; 2 Pet. 3:9; Ps. 130:3; 1 John 3:8; 1 John 5:14; Eph. 3:20; Ps. 90:8; Matt. 3:8.

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