Through the Spring and Summer, and now into Fall, we have borne the grief of a global pandemic, endured a massive loss of life and of livelihood, and protested escalating violence against Black Lives. Even as we wait on the help of Almighty God, we are compelled to stand up; to defend the cause of righteousness. With boldness in our prayers and by our actions we seek to redeem the soul of our nation.
Confident Love (1 John 3:11-24, NRSV)
The Scripture reading is drawn from Sunday’s lesson for November 15, 2020 ©Uniform Lessons Series, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA.
3:11 For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We must not be like Cain who was from the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be astonished, brothers and sisters, that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 All who hate a brother or sister[b] are murderers, and you know that murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them. 16 We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. 17 How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?
18 Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. 19 And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him 20 whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; 22 and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.
23 And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us.
Today’s prayer is written by Min. Christian S. Watkins, Justice Advocacy and Outreach Manager, on staff with the National Council of Churches.
Micah 6:6-8 – 6 With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To make justice happen, and to be lovingly merciful and to walk humbly with your God.
Let us pray:
Oh, God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, Thou who has brought us thus far along the way: To the only Wise God, Mighty Provider, Problem Solver, Way Maker, You are a mind regulator and a heavy load bearer. We come to You in these post-election hours to first say thank You. We bless Your holy name for all You have done, are doing, and will do for us. Thank You oh Holy One for the breath of life; Your breath that hovered over the unformed earth, and that same breath that resides in all of Creation and in all that life encompasses. You created all things well, and Good, yet we’ve fallen so short of Your glory. For that, we do repent.
We confess that we have not loved You with our whole hearts. We have failed to be an obedient church. We have not done Your will, we have broken Your law, we have rebelled against Your love, we have not loved our neighbors, and we have not heard the cry of the needy. Lord God, we confess our sins, and we humbly beseech You to incline Your mighty ear towards our supplications.
Too many have been left without homes, and without loved ones at the dinner table, forever cherished yet living on in eternity with You. Too many are left without jobs or livable wages, without access to quality nutritional options and healthcare; the bare necessities to live, let alone thrive. While we sorely need leaders who will boldly work to resolve issues of homelessness and socioeconomic depravity, we desperately need righteous forerunners who will care for the bigger house of Your Creation we call earth. Heal our land and raise up a righteous remnant to continue to do Your good works in real and impactful ways, together. Jehovah Jireh, be a mighty provider, and invoke righteousness and equity throughout this country, in Jesus’ name.
We pray that folks far and wide throughout this nation become better informed and engaged in our communal liberation. As many have taken civic engagement steps to elect leaders who are committed to finding and executing solutions to homelessness, access to food, and housing inequities, we pray those who take and hold office will commit to Your cause of communal liberation, thriving, and peaceful equity among us. This past year alone has left so many lacking and grieving due to inadequate, self-serving and quarrelsome leaders. Hold them to account.
Just as the Prophet Jeremiah boldly declared regarding the misdirection of Israel’s leaders and those who supported them, as there surely is nothing new under the sun, I proclaim into today’s human record: “They know no limits in deeds of evil; they do not judge with justice the cause of the orphan, to make it prosper, and they do not defend the rights of the needy” (Jer. 5:28). “They have hold fast to deceit, they have refused to return. I have given heed and listened, but they do not speak honestly; no one repents of wickedness, saying ‘What have I done!’” (Jer. 8:6). Chastise them, Mighty God, and make the case for their urgent repentance!
But, Oh God, You said in Your Word that You’d never leave us or forsake us. You said in Your Word that You will hasten Your Word to perform it (Jer. 1:12). Don’t let our enemies laugh at us. Lord God, You said in Your Word that You came that we might have life, and have life abundantly (John 10:10)! So, Lord, change our communal story in this nation, that we might live abundantly as You have promised, and that our elected and appointed leaders reflect and live into that promise.
Let us echo what Jeremiah proclaimed; to the leaders throughout our nation, both elected and appointed, and all people reading: Do what is just and right. Rescue from oppressors’ hands the ones who have been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the strangers among us, the parentless or the widowed, and do not sacrifice any more innocent blood in the process (Jer. 22:3). We pray of things that are not as though they are (Rom. 4:16-22), move in a mighty way that only You know how. Hear our plea and heal our lands, Mighty God. Bring about a mighty revolution in this present time so that your Glory cannot be ignored.
Jehovah-Rapha: continue to stretch us beyond previous limits of our understanding and comfort—to a place where only faith will do. We thank You for the Holy Spirit, keeping Your ordinances and Christ’s teaching fresh in our memories. And, while we mourn our dead, we celebrate the everlasting life that is available in You. ACT NOW, through the hearts and hands and feet of women and men, young and old, and of every shade under the sun—for the only hands Christ has now are but our own—and we WILL continue to give You praise till the end of our days!
In the matchless name of Yeshua the Christ we pray, and all those who agree say “Amen.”