Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Prayer for Charlottesville

Lord, Comforter and Redeemer,

Take these troubled times and bring good from them.
Somehow, throw your spirit of comfort like a mantle over the grieving,
over those traumatized by the Charlottesville rally,
and most of all over those injured and killed there.
Infiltrate their homes and their conversations--
let your spirit be felt.
Comfort those grieving for loved ones lost through senseless violence.

Bring justice, swift and sure.
Not revenge. That is not your way.
But justice, peace, and sanity
to a situation raging out of control.

May this tragedy in Charlottesville wake up a sleepy country
to the ravages of deep-seated prejudice and hatred.
Somehow, draw us toward your spirit of wisdom,
fill us with a desire and determination to be
loving, forgiving, compassionate, determined.
Give us the courage to stand for righteousness,
to shirk stubbornness and pride,
to abhor hatred.

Change us.
And even while you work so great a miracle,
lighten the heavy hearts of those closest to the tragedy.
Heal Charlottesville
and protect Virginia.
Protect our country from another century of malice and bigotry.

We worship you and thank you for your
love, compassion, justice, and mercy.
We will never be worthy of your grace!
Amen.

image by George Hodan

Friday, August 11, 2017

Intercession for our country

Dear Lord,

You are the King of Kings, so you understand kings.
You are not surprised by the world's presidents, generals, dictators, prime ministers, shahs.
You understand power, corruption, responsibility, greed, pride, and ambition.

Please influence our leaders.
Give us grace when our leaders make foolish choices.
Give us grace when we make foolish choices, when we elect godless leaders and when we pretend like it's not our fault.
Give us a chance to learn and correct our mistakes.
Protect us from evil--from wanting it, from protecting it, and from excusing it.

Make us a thinking, active, and responsible people.
Forgive us our sins.
Forgive our leaders of their sins and place God-fearing individuals in their paths to influence, challenge, and show them the love of God.
Please give us another chance to serve you better--more fully--more sacrificially.

May the church rise up--not as a political force--
but as the hands and feet of Jesus!
He is the only one who can bring peace to our world.
May we never confuse him with political activism!

Our love and adoration be Yours alone!
Amen.

image by George Hodan

Friday, August 4, 2017

How to pray a prayer of anguish

Have you ever felt emotionally raw and desperate? Angry, even? My first response in these situations is either to rage at God or someone else. God is a better choice. The best response is to pray a prayer of anguish. To lament. It's one of the ways that God responds to human desperation.

Grief, when directed at God, is a prayer. It's a lamentation that expects a response. Anguish can prompt the most beautiful and heart-felt prayers we ever pray.

Maybe you're not sure what to say. That's okay, too. The Holy Spirit hears the groaning of our hearts and responds to us with grace and love (Romans 8:26-27).

I go directly to Psalms when I need to groan. I start at Psalm 3, and I just keep going until I've said enough. I've underlined a lot of verses about anguish and fairness and deliverance in those pages, so I pray those verses back to God. Somehow, reading the Psalms give power to my prayer and assuage any guilt I'd have for expressing my pain and misery.

Praying God's words back to him keeps my prayer a lament instead of a complaint. Fortunately, most of David's Psalms end with the correct theology that God is good, and He will do good on my behalf. In context, these verses have power; out of context, they might seem cliché.

Here are a few of my favorite passages, turned into prayers that you can use during your dark times:

"Lord, I am in distress! Listen to me! Reach down your hand and hold me up!" (Ps. 18:6)

"Lord, have mercy on me! I'm traumatized. My body and soul are wracked with grief. I can't go on! I feel all my strength fading away. I'm not going to survive. Please rescue me!" (Ps. 31:9-10)

"Lord, I am in desperate need. My enemies surround me, wanting me to fail. Only you can help me. I wait for you to work in my life. Please hurry, before I lose everything!" (Ps. 31:15-16)

"Lord, I am watching the wicked succeed all around me. I'm holding my tongue, even though I want to scream that it's not fair. I'm trying to honor you, but my anguish is increasing. Give me perspective, God! Show me how this will end! But until then, teach me to have hope in you alone." (Ps. 39:1-7)

"Lord, I am so discouraged. All my confidence is gone. I have given up hope. Help me to remember your faithfulness. My spirit is thirsty for you. Please come and refresh me!" (Ps. 143)

So take a minute and pray a psalm of agony. Cry out. God will answer you, because that's who he is. He is acquainted with grief. He can't help but respond to the cries of his children!

image by George Hodan