Lately, I’ve been finding myself praying the Lord’s Prayer a lot. When my heart is too broken to know what to ask for, or when I’m too caught up in the mess to trust myself to pray honestly, Jesus’ words always seem right. Today, after yesterday’s heart-breaking violence in Charlottesville, is one of those days. I figure some of you might be struggling with how to pray as well, so I’m sharing my own raw, painful prayer.
Let us pray.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
God, sometimes it’s hard to call you holy. Today I am crying out for the fulfillment of your promises of justice and peace and well-being for the whole creation, and you seem silent. But even as I shake my fist at you with one hand, I am clinging to you with the other. Oh, Holy One, I am begging you: make your holy goodness known in our time!
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Are you listening, God? You promised us that the kingdom of heaven is at hand–your kingdom, where the lion will lay down with the lamb, where those who have maintained their power through violence will lay down our arms and lay down our pride and humble ourselves before those who have suffered at our hands, and where you will teach us to live in peace together. May your kingdom come here and now! Your kingdom come to Charlottesville. Your kingdom come to Falcon Heights. Your kingdom come to the earth beneath my very feet.
Give us today our daily bread
And in the meantime, Lord, give all your creatures what they need for the work to which you call us. Bread for the journey. Companionship on the road. Rest for our weary hearts. For those you call to the streets, give courage. For those you call to acts of love, give deep wells of care. For those called to preach, give words of truth. For those called to heal, give good heart medicine.
And forgive us our sins
Ah! God! Forgive us! We who have left space in our hearts for the fearful demons of white supremacy; we who have bought into the subtle lies that some lives are worth more; we who have defended ourselves from accusations of racism rather than opening ourselves to be healed of it. Forgive us! Heal us! Save us! Because we cannot wish our way free of this mess. Good intentions don’t have power over this demon. We are lost, and need you.
As we forgive those who sin against us.
I wonder what right I have to forgive those who sin against my dark-skinned siblings. I wonder even what right you have to do that, God! But then I recognize myself in them. Why do some white folks march with torches, chant racist slogans, drive cars into groups of protesters? Because they are afraid. And so am I. And so I pray, God, that you heal those broken hearts. That they (and I, and all of us,) find ourselves bathed in the light of your freedom and that none of us fear our neighbors any more.
Lead us not into the time of trial, and deliver us from evil.
God, I pray for your hand of protection over every brown body in this country. May there be no more violence done today! And in your mercy, deliver us from this mess, and protect us from every temptation to explain, or blame, or solve, or save.
For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever, Amen.
I know you can do this, God. Please do. Amen.