A Prayer of Lament - For St. Paul, Baton Rouge, and Dallas

Here's the prayer of lament from yesterday's Sunday Gathering.

Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Awake! Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget the afflicted and oppressed? For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our bellies cling to the ground.

Our hearts are broken once again and our voices cry out. Our hearts mourn the death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge. Our hearts mourn the deaths of five Dallas police officers – Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, and Lorne Ahrens. Like Baton Rouge and Dallas, our city is in pain and despair because of the death of Philando Castile.

Lord, may we repent of the sin that kills and divides one another. May we turn away from prejudice and racism against another’s skin, and may we turn away from anger and hate towards another’s vocation.

May we turn away from using tragedy to stir up fear and hate, and may we turn away from using tragedy as an opportunity to divide rather than unite. Lord, once again, we keep turning against one another when we ought to be turning to you.

Help us, oh Lord, to understand the evil and sin in our own hearts. Help us see, and turn from the sin in us that seeks to destroy and divide. We need your forgiveness and your grace – all of us.

Give us the grace that is only found in the cross and empty tomb. Help us see your grace as the means by which peace will come to our city. Help us, oh Lord, find our role as peacemakers in this city.

We not only want to pray for the pain in our nation and city, but we also continue to bring before you the hurting in our church family. So we continue to lift up the [names and families in our local church]. Bring comfort and your healing power in their time of grief and sickness.

Lord, have mercy on us. Don’t be far away. We need the sacrifice of the cross to bring forgiveness and justice, and we need the power of the resurrection to bring restoration and renewal. We have no other hope for everlasting peace.

So rise up, O Lord. Come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!

We pray this confidently in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.