A Written Prayer for the Racial Injustice We Now Refuse to Unsee

“After three white police officers beat a Black man named Robert Hall to death, a federally commissioned panel issued a 178-page report on America’s police “failings” which found that while both white and Black people suffered from police brutality “the dominant pattern is that of race prejudice.” According to the report, Black Americans “have been shot, supposedly in self-defense, under circumstances indicating, at best, unsatisfactory police work in the handling of criminals, and, at worst, a callous willingness to kill.”

“This is all sadly familiar to anyone who’s been paying attention, but there is one small surprise here. This report was issued in 1947 and the panel was commissioned by President Harry Truman.

“It changed nothing, as you’ve probably noticed. The sheriff who killed Hall won his reelection as the wrongful death case moved through the courts. Thus began America’s long history of detailed research on racist police brutality. These studies inevitably confirm that police brutality disproportionately affects racial minorities in general and Black Americans in particular. Often times, these studies even find possible solutions for how to curtail the blight of racist police brutality. Truman’s report did so nearly 75 years ago.” https://www.relevantmagazine.com/justice/social-justice/when-will-america-take-what-we-know-about-racist-policing-seriously

Sheesh. Really?

Too many of us from the “white church variety” have been unseeing what has been prevalent for a long time. We now can’t unsee it. Thanks to videos on phones we now can’t unsee it. Which means we are now called to “be the bridge” to healing.

When you deal with issues of race, class, and culture, we feel four emotions:  grief, anger, fear, and shame. We don’t deal with any of these emotions in healthy ways when things are normal. Things are not normal right now.

The work of reconciliation too often happens at points of crisis when we aren’t equipped emotionally. It is no wonder this issue of justice is a mess right now. Everyone is uncomfortable, and emotional decisions are being made. 

For starters, we can pray. I hope we can also embrace the discomfort of the now; notice the systems that have been in place. Just begin noticing them; and have conversations.

From one of our conversations at my church we created this written prayer. At the end of this article there is a pdf download option so you can print this for yourself. #thebravepray

Written Prayer for the Sin of Systemic Racism

Dear Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

Our eyes are opened, our hearts are broken,

We recognize the systemic racism for generations that has held back so many of our brothers and sisters in our God family.

We feel the emotions of anger, fear, shame and grief but we are not afraid of these emotions. We trust you, God, to use these emotions to bring about healing change.

We want to see healing change.

We trust you as the one who holds the larger story which is full of your justice. This means healing change is coming.

Lead me in my part of the healing change.

We confess that racism is sin. Systemic injustice is sin.

The Apostle Paul talks about principalities and powers.

I pray against these principalities and powers. I join millions of others who are praying.

I also am willing to do my part of the healing change.

There is systemic sin and there is personal sin.

Forgive us, God of Justice, for both.

We pray for the victim. We pray for the oppressor. We pray for the individual who will make the choice as to which one he or she will be.

Overcoming is our birthright as Christians.

It starts at the cross of Jesus.

May each person choose the way of Jesus to overcome. 

Peacemaking is our birthright as Christians because we belong to the Prince of Peace.

Peacemaking looks like going to the cross.

Because we have been forgiven of so much—and God has never left us—may we be a part of peacemaking in this unjust world.

We will not dehumanize the other. This is my pledge.

I pray for the teachers of history to teach history that is true.

This may bring the emotions of anger, fear, shame and grief but the truth will set us free. The truth can heal.

I pray against the distortion of truth.

May systemic forgiveness happen.

This will come with humility, meekness, and powering under.

Each of these are leadership traits.

May I lead this way. God help me.

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Unfailing love and truth walk before you as attendants. Psalm 89:14.

In this messy middle where I live right now I need unfailing love and truth close to me.

One day historians will tell the story of the Church in this era of pandemic and racial strife.

We pray that historians will find in the rubble of these years of suffering a people who bore testimony to Jesus who never lost sight of those most in need.

I pledge to be one of those people.

The brave pray. I pray and believe in the way of Jesus.

I believe in this larger story.

Amen.

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