Sometimes we don't know what to do after something like the tragic and senseless death of George Floyd - what do we say, how do we act, what can we do for justice? We can peacefully protest with others, we can speak out with righteous anger, we can share God’s truth, we can spread love, we can have compassion, we can donate to causes, we can contact our congressmen and women, and we can contact our local, regional, and state police departments.
We can and should also pray through all of these things; through every hard and challenging day and through every promising and hopeful day. Let us not be silent in our communities and let us not be silent in our prayers. Our Lord, knows the pain that is in so many hearts right now, a pain that for many has been present for quite some time.
Below are 5 prayers for a call to justice to share with your youth group and parish families. My hope is that these prayers help to heal and reconcile us to the events unfolding in our midst.
1. A Prayer for Acknowledgement in the Midst of Injustice
Father God, sometimes I think the most infuriating thing about injustice is the absence of the acknowledgment of wrong. I think of times I have read the Gospel accounts of Jesus in your Word, and the frustration I have felt when reading about the wicked-hearted Pharisees and Sadducees, the crowd that chose Barabbas, and the Roman soldiers who carried out their orders without thinking about the injustice. I wanted them to know that what they were doing was wrong. No one knows the depths of injustice better than you Lord, I know acknowledgment will not fix everything but it’s a step in the direction of truth. We pray that the officer who committed this crime will acknowledge that what he did was wrong, we pray that police departments and governments across the country will acknowledge that what happened to George Floyd and others is wrong. Lord I've seen videos of police officers humbly taking a knee, hugging protestors and even praying with them -- thank you that these men and women are acknowledging the hurt that individuals who were (and some still are) part of their institution have caused.
Thank you that many police, government officials, and everyday citizens are acknowledging a need for change. May this acknowledgment continue across the country and may it be followed up with action. Lord, we pray for a growing acknowledgment that racism exists in this country still; let us grieve that truth and let us advocate for change. Lord, you know that change starts with the heart; please open the hearts of many so that we may see people the way you see people -- that we may love people the way you love people. Help us to acknowledge wrongs, give us clear minds and hearts to decipher the truth behind injustice. May we look at every circumstance through your lens Lord, a lens of truth, love, grace, and mercy.
We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen
2. A Prayer for Justice in the Midst of Injustice
Jesus, we pray for justice in the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many others. We pray for justice for the men and women who have lost their lives, may there be consequences and convictions for those who have taken these lives, Lord. The Bible is very clear that taking a life is sinful and abhorrent, and it is a sin against you. Your Word is clear about human life; every life is valuable because every life is made in your image. We may look different from each other, but we have one big thing in common -- we're all created by you, which means we all have equal value, we all have purpose, and we are all part of your plan. Father, you know the injustice that has occurred for thousands of years, in different countries, with races of color and classes of people. I pray for justice in ongoing racism, which is still found here in America. I pray that these wrongs look very wrong to everyone who views these situations; make it clear to everyone Father, that races of color are beautiful, valuable, and worthy.
You are the author of justice Lord, we ask that you would rain down justice in the form of , law changes, police training, transformed mindsets and hearts, and continued racial reconciliation. Help us to look to you…and your Word to remind ourselves of what justice should look like. You know what injustice is like God; every sin committed is an injustice against you. Lord help us to fight injustice in the right way, may we always look to you as the solution. Oh Lord, that there would be more and more hearts transformed by your grace. May this time of injustice produce opportunities for conversation to talk about your grace, mercy, and forgiveness. May we seek you in our quest for justice, and may we continue to pray in your name for justice to be served when lives are taken and hateful actions are committed.
We pray through Christ our Lord.
3. A Prayer for the Broken-Hearted in the Midst of Injustice
Lord, you know the heart of everyone affected by this crime and this loss of beautiful life, the life of your child George Floyd, as well as the recent deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and many before them. Lord, I find it hard to believe that any human can watch the murder of any of your children and not feel broken-hearted -- a broken heart for what happened to them, for the loss their family feels, and for so many nationwide that feel a deep pain every time a senseless death like this happens. There are many tears right now, Lord please draw near to all who are grieved by these deaths. Remind us of your closeness and your presence; remind us that you are with us always, through tragedy and triumph.
Your Word tells us that you are the Light and though the darkness tries it cannot put out the light; your Word also tells us that the darkness is as light to you. You know all things and are all things, there is no secret that can be kept from you, even in darkness -- you know the truth of what has happened. Thank you for the comfort in your Psalms, many of which are penned from a broken heart and a place of trial. The Psalms remind us that you are our Refuge in the midst of trials; you are our everlasting fortress. You are our only true safe place. May we leave every tear and every ache of our heart at your feet; may we trust you with these realities and these feelings and know that you are sovereign over all. You are a just God, and you will right every wrong. Help us to trust you always, and help us to seek you in everything. May we find comfort in who you, who are life.
We pray through Christ our Lord.
4. A Prayer for the Angry in the Midst of Injustice
Just as there are many who are broken-hearted right now, Lord, there are many who are angry--and some who feel both emotions. Injustice in its nature produces frustration and anger, sometimes we just wonder why would someone do this, how could someone think this way, why would they choose those words and so on. You did not design life with acts of injustice in mind. We were not created to hate or kill one another. In fact, every time we sin it is an act against you. Your heart breaks for the pain in the world, and you hold the sorrow of the world. Lord please break our hearts to see the truth behind injustice, may we see the real sorrow that is caused and the pain that so many have in their hearts from acts of sin. Lord help us to be angry at the right things at the right time - do not let our anger be against you. Help us to express righteous anger, to be angry about the things that make you angry too.
Jesus, we can read about your anger in the temple, and we can recognize that your anger was righteous anger. You were angry at what makes God angry, they degraded the house of God, the Temple of Jerusalem. You were righteously angry against sin, Lord, help us to have that same righteous anger and may it encourage us to speak out and take action. But Lord please do not let our anger lead us to a place of unrighteous anger, to a place where we commit sin out of our anger. Holy Spirit lead our hearts to know how to manage our anger and how to use it wisely for your glory and your kingdom. Train our hearts to be angry according to what makes you angry, and help us act with purpose, with a heart of forgiveness. May there always be forgiveness behind our anger. Help us to turn our anger into conversations with others, lead our conversations into relationships where we can share your truth and grace -- and may your truth and grace change hardened hearts and confused minds. Oh Lord, take the lead when we feel angry; Holy Spirit lead us in right action, according to your Word.
We pray through Christ our Lord
5. A Prayer for Unity in the Midst of Injustice
Lord, we respond differently to acts of sin -- some are protesting peacefully, some are protesting angrily, some are confused, and many are hurting. Help us to find unity in you God, you are the unifying factor because you are the Creator who created us all in your image and likeness -- none more important than another. You look at each of your children and you have compassion and love toward each one equally, what love that is Lord. Help us to love as you do, help us to see human beings as you do, and help us to forgive one another in the midst of injustice. I don't know how you did it Jesus; you turned to the thief on the cross who was mocking you minutes before and you forgave him and led him to everlasting life in you with a few sentences. You looked out on the hateful crowd and you had compassion… you said Father forgive them, for they know not what they do. Oh Lord, please give me that kind of compassion, that kind of love, and that kind of grace for others. You had the same compassion on the hateful crowd as you did for your disciple John and your mother Mary watching this happen to you. Your love is amazing and unparalleled. Thank you for being a living example to us of how to love and forgive.
You offer everlasting life to any who believe that you are the Son of God, that you died for sinners, which we all are, and you paid our penalty of death with the sacrifice of your life; then you took on the wrath of God against all sin, and you washed us white as snow with your innocent blood. Your resurrected life has provided a way for all who believe to know you and be loved by you. You have adopted us into your family, every one of us as equal inheritors of the kingdom of God. You took the penalty of our sins so that when and however we die we will be raised to life again -- a life without sin, without injustice, without pain, anger, and sorrow.
Lord, thank you for this hope today and we thank you that though George Floyd lost his life at the knee of another, he is with you today. Let his death not be in vain, help us to see purpose and a way forward. May our hearts be ignited for your truth and glory Lord; lead us to speak your truth in grace and love to others. Please bring hope to the brokenhearted and the angry, give us direction to find justice, and light the way to your kingdom so that many more can see and believe with transformed hearts and minds that you are who you say you are. You are God and God alone, you are the only Refuge from sin. May we find unity at the foot of the cross, where all men and women are equal in Jesus Christ. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayers!
We pray through Christ our Lord