Call to Prayer for our Nation

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, then I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
                                                                               2 Chronicles 7:14

This past week’s events have left many people wondering, what can I do?  Over the months ahead, there will be many suggestions and opportunities to live out our faith as Christians in loving our neighbor, no matter who that might be.  But right now, I want to invite all of my friends to unite in prayer for our nation and her people.

To that end, I invite you to take time each evening this week to pause for a time of prayer and reflection.  A National Week of Prayer began Sunday evening at 9:06 pm.  Perhaps you would pause at 9:06 each night.  If that isn’t a convenient time, select another time and commit to praying each evening.  I invite you to pray for an end to violence in our communities, for safety both for our police and for persons of color.  Ask God to intervene and raise up a way forward through which we can be united as a people.
And you may want to pray for direction from God on how you personally could act to be salt and light to the community around you, helping to find peaceful ways to strengthen community relations and ensure justice for all people.
You are welcome to pray using your own words , but if you would like some direction for your prayer and meditation, the prayers and Scripture below may prove helpful.  Let us unite our hearts and minds together in prayer, knowing that God is present, working in ways seen and unseen, to bring about a world of peace, justice and love.
1 Timothy 2:1-4
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.
Psalm 33 selections
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.
From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all humanity;
From his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth – 
he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do…
We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.
From Alan Paton in the midst of Apartheid
O Lord, open my eyes
that I may see the need of others,
open my ears that I may hear their cries,
open my heart so that they need not be without succor.
Let me not be afraid to defend the weak
because of the anger of the strong,
nor afraid to defend the poor
because of the anger of the rich.
Show me where love and hope and faith are needed,
and use me to bring them to these places.
Open my eyes and ears that I may, this coming day,
be able to do some work of peace for thee.
Prayer of St. Francis
“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.”

And finally, from Bishop Desmond Tutu – Prayer for South Africa but just as applicable to the United States
Bless our beautiful land, O Lord,
with its wonderful variety of people,
of races, cultures and languages.
May we be a nation of laughter and joy,
of justice and reconciliation,
of peace and unity,
of compassion, caring and sharing.
We pray this prayer for a true patriotism,
in the powerful name of Jesus our Lord. 
The Rev. Dr. Bronwyn Yocum

Martin Luther King Day Musings


But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
Amos 5:24

“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”
Galatians 3:28

I invite you to do a little experiment. Set a one dollar bill on the table, and beside it, place four quarters. Now ask yourself, which is worth more – the dollar bill or the quarters? They look different: one’s paper, one metal; they have different uses: one can go in a parking meter and the other can’t. But they are both equal in value, the one dollar bill and stack of quarters. There is no difference in how much they are worth.

We human beings come in different sizes, different colors, different gifts and abilities, but we are all equal in God’s eyes. The black skinned Nigerian who was murdered by Boco Haram terrorists is of no less worth than the Parisian cartoonist murdered by AQAP terrorists at the offices of Charlie Hebdo. And yet, last week over 40 world leaders and millions of people gathered to protest the deaths of seventeen people in France, while Nigerians, almost alone, mourned the deaths of hundreds, possibly even thousands in rural villages and continued to remember the hundreds of girls kidnapped by Boco Haram.

As we move toward Monday’s observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we must recommit ourselves once more to justice and equality as God’s children. Let justice be offered not only to those who look like us but to all people. Let our outrage at terrorism be as great when it occurs on the African continent as in Europeans. When diseases like Ebola strike, let’s not wait for mounting death tolls to include people like us – let’s work to bring healing and hope no matter where, no matter what the victims look like. Let’s remember, that while we may look different from each other, we are all of equal value before God’s throne of grace. As our youth sing, “What color is God’s skin? It is red, it is yellow, it is black, it is white. Everyone’s the same in the good Lord’s sight.”

Prayer: Gracious God, open my eyes to see the world as you see it. Open my heart to love all your children equally. Open my hands to serve your people and seek justice for each of your children, regardless of where they live, how they look or what language they speak. For I ask it in the name of Jesus Christ, who died that all might live. Amen.