A Prayer for a Nation at War
Dave Gustafson, Founder and President of STLRN
As should be obvious from this week’s heart-breaking images from Minnesota and elsewhere, we are a nation at war. This isn’t the so-called invisible war against the coronavirus, this is a war against the sin of racial injustice – a war that first engulfed our entire young nation in the 1860’s – only to enter into an uneasy truce.
That truce is comfortable for the oppressor, but deeply uncomfortable for the oppressed. When the truce is openly broken, as it was during the horrific murder of George Floyd by a white police officer, the war then again breaks out into an open battle – and destruction ensues, as it did in Ferguson in 2014.
Here at the St. Louis Reconciliation Network (STLRN), we typically use much softer medical terminology – “healing broken race relations” – to describe our mission. However, the outrageous racial injustice that still pervades both our systems and too many of our hearts now forces us to name this battle for what it is. This is war.
We at STLRN believe that this war will not end until people of faith rise up to join the battle, especially white Americans who claim the Bible as the Word of God and pray in the name of Jesus. This is the same Jesus who passionately prayed for us to seek justice in our world and for us to be a Church united as one. Sadly, many of us who profess this faith are guilty of failing to live it out.
Now is the time to engage in the battle. We believe that God is on the move to right these wrongs, and that He is even now using the pure evil of this murder and the resulting destruction to get our attention.
Near the end of the Civil War, President Lincoln gave his second inaugural address. Though not quoted as often as his words at Gettysburg, he spoke an eloquent truth about this ongoing war that we still must hear:
Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”
Believers, this war will indeed continue until the scourge of racial injustice is finally banished from our country. Let us pray.
Dear Lord God and Heavenly Father, we come before You now with hearts that grieve over the mess our sin has created in our country.
We mourn our failure to heed Your Son’s High Priestly Prayer in which He asked that we would live in complete unity, in order that the world would believe that He had truly been sent by You. Tragically, instead of living that way, we confess that our lives are instead distorted by racism, division, hostility, hatred, and feelings of superiority – even here within Your Church.
Dear Father, we know the ultimate payment for these sins and all others was paid through the shed blood of Your Son, Jesus. However, we also know and experience the temporal consequences of these sins all around us – in broken relationships, our broken city, and our broken country.
Lord, we humbly present our lives upon Your Altar and ask that You would use this moment to call down the refining fire of Your Holy Spirit upon our city and our country. Let racial reconciliation, revival and renewal so engulf the United States that the entire world would be confronted with the undeniable truth that this could only have come by Your Direct and Divine Intervention.
And please lift our eyes that we might clearly see Your Kingdom as it truly is: your Throne, the Lamb as if slain, the 4 living creatures, the 24 elders, the myriads of angels, all surrounded by the uncountable multitude of every ethnicity and language – crying out together in unending worship of Your Son, Jesus.
Dear Father, please let Your Kingdom breakthrough into our country as we repent in humble obedience to Your Word, through the power of Your Holy Spirit, that You might bring real reconciliation, revival and renewal to us now – with all of Your children united in true worship and adoration, on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.