06.11.20

Father, Please, Be Merciful to Our Nation!

O’ sovereign God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, my heart and the hearts of many of your people, who both love and who are thankful for this nation, cry out to you today on behalf of our nation in this time of national and global suffering. We groan in agony along with the entire creation, because of the power and pervasiveness of sin in both our nation and indeed throughout the entire world. Father, you know how pervasive sin is. You know it rules and reigns like an evil and despotic tyrant over individuals, over systems and structures, and over the entire creation. Father, you know that sin has reigned this way since our first parents, Adam and Eve, sinned against you in the Garden of Eden, bringing a curse on the entire creation. Father, you know that this curse will continue to rule and reign like an evil tyrant over the entire creation until Jesus returns to make all things right and to restore perfectly everything Adam and Eve lost in the Garden.

However, Father, we, your people, know and are confident that because of your promise of individual, horizontal, and cosmological redemption through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and because of the certainty of our redemption in Christ, we can boldly approach your heavenly thrown of grace in prayer today and cry out to you for help in our nation’s time of need.

Father, we pray for all of the families, friends, and neighbors of those in our nation who have suffered the loss of loved ones to shootings and to violence. Father, there are more deaths than we know and more than we are able to name. But we pray specifically for the families, friends, and neighbors of Ahmaud Arberry, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor. We pray you will make yourself known to their families, friends, and neighbors as the God of all comfort as they grieve. We pray, Father, that by the power of your Spirit, you would help them know, feel, and experience you as a loving Father, Jesus as the good shepherd, and your Spirit as their comforter. Father, we pray that you would also surround them with support and encouragement from loving family, friends, neighbors, and churches in their cities during their time of grief. Father, please, also help the judicial system to do its work well, carefully, diligently, and precisely on behalf of them and their families.

Father, please, put your loving arms of grace and comfort around the ethnically diverse people in our nation who are so afraid right now. Father, there are especially black image-bearers in our nation who currently experience fear, anxiety, and pain because of the state of race relations in our nation. O’ Father, many black image-bearers are afraid to jog in their neighborhoods, to walk at night, and to do some of the normal things ordinary citizens do, because of the color of their skin, because of the fear of gun violence or other forms of violence, or because of drug activity in their communities. Father, please, help your black image-bearers to be able to live without unnecessary fear. Father, please, protect black image-bearers and all image-bearers in our nation, regardless of the color of their skin, from every form of evil in our nation. Father, please, may all people in our nation truly believe that black lives indeed have dignity and value, just as non-black lives indeed have dignity and value, because you created all humans in your image.

Father, we thank you for and pray for the many good and ethnically diverse law enforcement officers in our nation who faithfully serve and protect their communities. Father, we also grieve and lament the many law enforcement officers who have lost their lives faithfully protecting and serving their communities in our nation. Father, you know there are many good law enforcement officers throughout our nation, male and female, and from a diversity of ethnic groups who risk their lives on a daily basis as they seek to protect and serve the diverse image-bearers in their communities. And, Father, you know there are many faithful Jesus-loving and God-fearing law enforcement officers who love you and who love their fellow image-bearers whom they protect and serve. Father, we thank you for these and pray that you would keep them and their colleagues safe and faithful as they do the hard work to protect and serve our communities.

Father, however, you also know that relationships between certain law enforcement communities and certain communities in our nation are broken, have a history of tension, and lack trust. So, Father, please work by the same power that you displayed when you raised Jesus Christ from the dead to keep both law enforcement communities and the communities they serve and protect safe. Father, please, help the law enforcement communities and the communities they serve begin the long and difficult journey of working to establish trust with one another and to bring about both individual and systemic reform in our communities. Father, please, help both the law enforcement communities in our nation and the diverse communities they serve to take both personal and institutional responsibility to pursue the important steps necessary to begin the long and difficult journey to build the kind of trust and relationships needed between our diverse law enforcement communities and our diverse communities in our nation.

Father, please, supernaturally work in every aspect of our nation to bring to light every element of individual racism in our hearts and every element of systemic racism in our many systems, organizations, and institutions. When these things are brought to light, please give those in our nation, with the ability to make both individual and systemic changes for the better of all ethnically diverse image-bearers in our country, the courage, support, and strength to work with a renewed commitment to educate our nation, our families, and our communities, to make better decisions as both law enforcement communities and civilian communities, to implement policies and procedures to improve community and race relations in our nation, and to elect vetted and qualified leaders from diverse ethnic groups to help make our nation’s systems, institutions, and organizations anti-racist in ways that would bring glory and honor to you, to your Son, Jesus Christ, and to your Word, and in ways that would help ethnically diverse image-bearers in our nation to flourish.

O’ Father, we also pray that you would grant repentance to many in our nation today so that they would turn from their sins, turn to Jesus Christ, and place their personal faith in Jesus’ wrath-bearing, cosmic-disarming, cosmic-renewing, and reconciling-accomplishing death and victorious resurrection from the dead. Father, may many in our nation love you, your Christ, and your Word, and may many in our nation be filled with your Spirit and walk in step with the Spirit.

Father, please help many in our nation to see that you, your Christ, and your Spirit care deeply about the suffering of all of your ethnically diverse image-bearers in our communities from every tongue, tribe, people, and nation and that you love the diverse colors of the skin of your image-bearers in our communities. Father, please, bring repentance on these issues to our nation where we need repentance. Please, bring trust to our nation where we need trust. Please, bring peace to our nation where we need peace. Please, bring racial justice to our nation where there is racial injustice. Please, bring restoration to our nation where we need restoration. Please, bring conciliation to our nation where we need conciliation. Please, bring reconciliation to our nation where we need reconciliation. Please, bring forgiveness to our nation where we need forgiveness.

Father, we pray for the many people in our nation who work around the clock in both public and private ways to make our country safe and to keep it going. Please, Father, keep these image-bearers safe as they protect and serve our country in many ways. Please, Father, help these image-bearers to do their jobs with honor to the best of their abilities in these troubling times in a way that would bring you pleasure and great glory.

Father, you owe our nation NOTHING. We owe you EVERYTHING. Still, we beg you, Holy Father, please bring a spiritual awakening to our nation. Please, transform many lives in our nation by the resurrecting power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Please, give the many gospel-believing churches in our nation the courage, strength, and eagerness to preach, obey, and apply the gospel of Jesus Christ and your perfect Word in our churches in ways that will help your people submit every area of their lives under the lordship of Jesus Christ and in ways that will help your people to live and think in Spirit-empowered ways about the current challenges facing our nation. Please, give many gospel-believing churches a faith that shows itself by Spirit-empowered works in the communities in which they live, work, and play during this very difficult time of national and local racial tension, during this global pandemic, and until Jesus Christ returns a second time.

Finally, Father, please, work in our nation to accomplish your perfect will and to bring your perfect kingdom to earth as it is in heaven. Father, may you find your people, who profess faith in Jesus Christ, to be faithful to do your will on earth as it is in heaven until Jesus Christ, your Son, our Savior, and our Lord, returns from heaven to earth to make all the wrongs right, to transform the entire creation, to judge the living and the dead, to save his people from your wrath, and to begin his eternal reign on earth in a transformed, glorified, and perfect creation with his ethnically diverse people whom he has redeemed from every tongue, tribe, people, and nation throughout the world!

Father, in Jesus’ crucified, resurrected, and glorified name we pray. Amen.

Jarvis J. Williams, PhD
Jarvis J. Williams is an associate professor of New Testament Interpretation at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He’s the author of Christ Redeemed ‘Us’ From the Curse of the Law: A Jewish Martyrological Reading of Galatians 3:13 and a forthcoming Galatians commentary in 2020 in the New Covenant Commentary Series.

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