Prayer of Lament - June 18, 2017

In light of the events surrounding the shooting of Philando Castile, Pastor Bryan wrote this prayer of lament from Psalm 22 and prayed with Trinity City Church on Sunday, June 18th. 

God, have you forsaken the Castile family? 

Have you abandoned the African-American community? 

Why are you so far from saving them, 

so far from their groaning?

They cry out to you by day, but you do not answer, 

and by night, but they find no rest. 

You’re holy, enthroned above the praises of their churches. 

They trust in you.

But they are dehumanized and not treated as image-bearers. 

They’re scorned by mankind and despised by people. 

They’re mocked, and the privileged wag their heads. 

“He should have not said anything about the gun.

He should not have reached in his pocket.”

Lord, don’t be far from your people. 

They’re surrounded by adversaries.

Care and protect them like a mother for her child. 

Because their strength is gone, 

their courage has melted away, 

and they’re weakened by fear because death continues to approach them. 

Injustice surrounds them. 

Their feet and hands are bound. 

What they have left is taken from them. 

Lord, don’t be far off! 

Come quickly to the aid of the oppressed and afflicted. 

Deliver them from injustice and death. 

Save their precious life. 

We will tell of your name to our brothers and sisters. 

We will praise you together. 

Because you have not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted. 

You have not hidden your face from them when they cried to you. 

The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; 

they will praise you, Lord!  

All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, 

all those in power and authority will be brought to their knees

because you rule over all things. 

May the privileged be brought low and worship,

and the afflicted raised up to praise. 

So that the coming generation, 

and those yet to be born, 

may know that you are good, 

you are just, 

and you deserve all the glory. 

In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Prayers of the People - From March 19, 2017

Here are the prayers for the Prayers of the People portion of our Sunday Gathering last Sunday:


Father, we thank you for this opportunity to come together to worship you.

We thank you for the brothers and sisters who work faithfully to make this opportunit a reality at Trinity City Church. 

Father we thank you that you use broken people to do beautiful things. 

God we are so thankful that when we were lost and stuck in our filth, that you adopted us, and now you now call us your sons and daughters. 

We pray that with this mindset that we would see the broken, the hateful, the unlovely, and that we would love them. 

We ask that your Holy Spirit would indwell us and give us a love that overcomes hate and fear. 

We pray that your Holy Spirit would shine through us in this dark world, that we wouldn't be another group with an agenda, but that we would be a people transformed by your power. 

We pray that Trinity would begin to resemble the first church in Acts, that we would be united in serving each other and those around us. 

We thank you for Jesus, for his example of what a true servant looks like. We ask for the strength to emulate that kind of service for this church.

Lord, in your mercy.

Hear our prayers. 

We pray for those within the church who are or feel disconnected. They are not forgotten by you or us. We pray for singles, people who are struggling with or coming out of addictions, couples who are struggling with infertility, and for many other stories we could name. 

We pray for a boldness to go towards other people. We pray they would fight against the feeling of being pushed to the edges of the church. We pray for a single mindedness toward you, and what you are doing in their lives. This is a sacred thing and we forget that. Father, it's so easy to see what you're not doing in our lives, to see you as not working, it takes effort and fortitude to not retreat away. Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit, we are asking you to send away the despair and insecurities that make us prone to do our unhealthy lives. We've become comfortable in our sin or complacency.

Would you be a shield about them, protecting them from the arrows of judgement; judgement from others, satan, and especially from themselves – that they would fight for the light in the dark nights of their soul. Especially for those who are wandering through the dessert, questioning you and doubting you. You have given them these circuitous routes, and yet, we pray they could also see the manna you provide, the water you give from a rock, how you lead them with a cloud by day, a fire by night. how you provide provision that is careful, intentional, and intensely personal. You have the power to bring about your promises – whenever it pleases you. May they seek to be led by you and look forward to the day when their sun shall no more go down, nor the moon withdraw itself; for the Lord will be their everlasting light. As they ache and feel your timing that is not their timing, as they feel the brokenness in this world, may they ultimately long for heaven, and long for Jesus to come. In many things and in many ways, please bring healing. Finally, we pray for mercy in not leading them into temptation but delivering them from evil. The battle of physicality and strength is real. Help them to choose that God knows what's best for them, trusting his laws and commands are for their blessing and joy in following him.

For all of us God, may your love be more compelling than that of this world, that you would strengthen those to follow after your will and still have hope, in and for the long haul. May we find our worth and healing in the safest of places.

Lord, in your mercy.

Hear our prayers.

We pray for our political leaders. Men and women who have been entrusted with leadership over our country, states, cities, and towns. We pray that they would be given wisdom, humility, and ability to lead where they have been called to lead. Give them servants hearts that work for the common good vs their own name and career. Give them understanding to solve difficult and complex problems. Give them the ability to inspire those that they lead to join in unity the effort to preserve the good things that you have blessed this country with, but also to renew what which is broken and in need of renewal. Give them fortitude to persevere in doing what is right when things are difficult, but also humility to repent when they err.

Lord, in your mercy.

Hear our prayers. 

For all the peoples of the world, that they might see the glory and power of your creation: “the earth is the Lord’s” and “those who dwell therein.” Our Father, you “laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of [your] hands.” “For by [you] all things were created…all things were created through [you] and for [you]…[you] are before all things, and in [you] all things hold together.”

For the body of Christ, that we may be stewards of the gifts you have given us. That we may prophesy, serve, teach, exhort, contribute, lead, and do acts of mercy. “…Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” and pursue your will wholeheartedly.

For ourselves – your people with whom you have entrusted with the gospel and who are bound to give an account – we pray for wise and discerning minds. “As each [of us] has received a special gift,” help us to “employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

May we be joyous caretakers of your creation. For it is written: “…whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully… God is able to make all grace abound to [us], so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, [we] may abound in every good work.” “Not to us, Lord, not to us, but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.”


Light of Life, Dispel My Darkness - A Christmas Prayer

Here is a prayer from our Christmas Eve service (quoted from The Worship Sourcebook)

Come and stand amazed, you people,
see how God is reconciled!
See his plans of love accomplished,
see his gift, this newborn child.
See the Mighty, weak and tender,
see the Word who now is mute.
See the Sovereign without splendor,
see the Fullness destitute;
the Beloved, whom we covet,
in a state of low repute.
See how humankind received him;
see him wrapped in swaddling bands,
who as Lord of all creation
rules the wind by his commands.
See him lying in a manger
without sign of reasoning;
Word of God to flesh surrendered,
he is wisdom’s crown, our King.
See how tender our Defender
at whose birth the angels sing.
O Lord Jesus, God incarnate,
who assumed this humble form,
counsel me and let my wishes
to your perfect will conform.
Light of life, dispel my darkness,
let your frailty strengthen me;
let your meekness give me boldness,
let your burden set me free;
let your sadness give me gladness,
let your death be life for me. Amen.

Candlelight Service, 2016

Candlelight Service, 2016

A Post-Election Prayer

One of our deacons wrote this prayer, and read it for Call to Worship on Sunday, November 13th. 

Heavenly Father, we are a nation divided. We have been increasingly so for a long time, but this year laid it bare in new and unexpected ways. I admit that I have sometimes looked to a political solution for things I should have looked to you for. As it says in Jeremiah 2:13, I have forsaken you and turned to broken cisterns that hold no water. Forgive me.  

Lord, where division has occurred in families like mine…someone on all sides and even the sidelines…where there is hurt or misunderstanding between generations or brothers and sisters….as it says in Malachi 4:6, I ask that you would turn the hearts of fathers to their children and children to their fathers. 

Within our neighborhoods, there are those who voted differently than us--who may have no interest in bridging the divide. As far as it is up to us, as it says in Romans 12:18, let us live in peace with everyone. 

It is hard to love those we don’t understand; please as you tell us to ask for in James 1:5, give us wisdom to know how to communicate in peace. 

There are those who are afraid--truly afraid because of the outcome. Please give us an opening to speak, and to weep with those who weep [Romans 12:15]. "How we treat the people that are anxious and afraid over this new presidency will reveal how much like Jesus we really are" [quoted from here]. 

For our outgoing president and our new president-elect, I know that the heart of the leader is in the hand of the Lord. (Proverbs 21:1) I pray that you would give him and his advisers health and wisdom. I pray too that you would be glorified in the next four years, that it would be your name that is praised, your will that is done. 

In Jesus name we pray. Amen. 

The Community Prayer Service at Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church

Matt Porter participated in the Community Prayer Service at Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church on July 11th along with others from Trinity City Church. Church leaders organized this time of prayer because of the tragic loss of lives in St. Paul, Baton Rouge, and Dallas. In this post, Matt summarizes this amazing evening of unity, lament, and prayer. Pictures are from Transform MN and Carl Nelson.  

Joining hands in prayer and unity.  Photo credit: Carl Nelson

Joining hands in prayer and unity.

Photo credit: Carl Nelson

“Where sin runs deep, Your grace is more. Where grace is found is where You are. And where You are Lord I am free. Holiness is Christ in me.” On Monday night at 7:00, several hundred brothers and sisters in Christ from many races, generations, and congregations around the Twin Cities worshipped God together with these lyrics in the tightly packed sanctuary of Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Minneapolis.

Rev. Billy Russell speaks to the crowd.  Photo Credit: Transform MN

Rev. Billy Russell speaks to the crowd.

Photo Credit: Transform MN

Greater Friendship Reverend Billy Russell, President of the Minnesota State Baptist Association, started the night’s discussion by impleading the church, “We need to be together at a time like this . . . This Christian life is a life of love, and that love is expressed in unity.” He spoke about the recent tearful tragedies in Dallas, Baton Rouge, and especially the Twin cities with the shooting deaths of Philando Castile and two-year-old Le’Vonte King Jason Jones. Reverend Russell encouraging the church that “As long as there is love, we will stand.”  

Pastor Jason Meyer of Bethlehem Baptist Church led congregants in lamenting not only recent events, but the larger history of the church’s toleration and even justification of slavery, discrimination, and a host of societal ills. He encouraged the church to gather at the throne of God. Only from strength found at the throne of God can we show the truest love and pair loving words with loving actions.  

Karl Nelson of the church-equipping ministry Transform Minnesota introduced local pastors and church leaders, including Bishop Richard Howell of Shiloh Temple International Ministries, Bethel’s Campus Pastor Laurel Bunker, and North Minneapolis community ministry Hope United’s Executive Director Reverend Richard Coleman, who led congregants in corporate and small-group prayer. Bishop Howell and Reverend Coleman referenced the story of Jesus’ weeping and raising Lazarus from the dead found in John 12, noting the importance of lamenting what the church has allowed our society to become, yet also trusting in the resurrection power of Jesus Christ.  

Pastor Bunker instructed “It’s important that the church be people out on the streets.” She encouraged Christians to think about places of darkness in society where we may be uncomfortable going, and praying for God to burden our souls with those communities until we take action. Pastor Bunker will be joining an expected one million people coming together in Washington, DC on July 16 to pray for our nation (more information at Reset 2016).

Reverend Alfred Babington-Johnson, CEO and President of the ministry Stairstep Foundation, reminded the church that “we have work to do” and read Ephesians 2:10: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (ESV).” He reported action steps that Pastors of the local African American Church Coalition have recently discussed and approved in order to combat violence in the community that is largely attributable to economic and educational deprivation of as well as discrimination against the African-American community. The four major action steps Reverend Babington-Johnson reported are:  

  1. Raise $100,000 over the next 12 months in order to put youth workers into the community.  $25,000 has already been raised toward this goal.

  2. Provide job training for former inmates, addicts, and others “folks coming out of the dark into the light.”

  3. Continue partnership with Stairstep, Merge, and other ministries and Minnesota legislators to secure GED funding.

  4. Train 100 pastors in “mental health first-aid” and equip black psychologists to better address the “state of trauma” that the African-American community is living in.  

Reverend Babington-Johnson encouraged local churches to join in prayer and cheerful giving in order to make these goals a reality. More information on this recent initiative can be found at Transform MN's website.  

After songs of worship, Urban Refuge Reverend Terrence Rollerson concluded the service with prayer. Many gathered stuck around after the service for fellowship and to make connections.

Feel like you missed out? Don’t worry—Reverend Billy Russell was happy to say “We’re gonna do this again.” Stay tuned at Transform MN for more information on future gatherings.

Pastor Jason Meyer address the crowd.  Photo Credit: Transform MN. 

Pastor Jason Meyer address the crowd.

Photo Credit: Transform MN. 

Taking Action When Your City Groans

Crowds form outside of governor's mansion. 

Crowds form outside of governor's mansion. 

My city, like Baton Rouge and Dallas, is in deep pain and despair. These cities are groaning with the whole creation as in the pains of childbirth (Romans 8:22) because of the violence and injustice against Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the five officers killed in Dallas.

What can we do? What should we say? These are hard questions that need answers from many different voices and vantage points. I want to provide just one important answer as a pastor ministering in Saint Paul: Let’s pray.

Christians may hesitate to give this answer. In the aftermath of tragedy, some communicate a desire for more action, not just prayer. The assumption here is that if all Christians do is pray, then our hands are passively folded in sanctuaries rather than actively engaged in the public square. There is an element of truth in this critique of prayer. If prayer is one’s way of saying, “I wish you well,” then we do need more action.

However, the Scriptures teach both that prayer is an effective action in itself, and that prayer also leads to more action.

I’ve been praying much these last couple days. I got up yesterday morning and biked down to the governor’s mansion to pray, listen, and observe. My family and I went that evening to the vigil at J.J. Hill Montessori School as a local pastor led the crowd in a prayer of lament. We prayed while we marched from that school to the governor’s mansion. We drove to Larpenteur and Fry to lay flowers at the site of the shooting, and to pray and reflect.

This morning, I joined with church leaders from all over the city at a Saint Paul police station to pray for restoration. Looking around that room, I saw different generations, different ethnicities, and different races. In Christ, our differences made no difference as we united in prayer.

My experiences of prayer these last couples days are far from being inactive. Yet these experiences of prayer in my city are only a small part of the action of prayer. I have just described prayer on the horizontal level but not the vertical.

The Scriptures teach that our Father in heaven hears our prayers because of Jesus Christ our Lord (John 14:13-14), and the Holy Spirit helps us “when we don’t know what to pray for as we ought” (Romans 8:26). In prayer, we pour out our desires for everything we need, as our Lord taught us to pray (Matthew 6:9-13). Prayer not only changes us, but in prayer God calls us to change the world (Isaiah 6). Indeed, to “clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world” (Karl Barth).

I don’t know all the answers right now. I’m still learning and listening from others about social and political solutions to these injustices. Finding solutions in these areas is important and necessary. However, what good are human solutions without the help of the one who holds all things together (Colossians 1:17)? What kind of reconciliation will we achieve without the one who reconciled to himself all things at the cross (Colossians 1:20)? The brokenness before us needs more than human strength and solutions. We need the strength of the one who defeated sin and death on the cross, and who reconciles us both to God and to one another. It will take the power of the resurrection to bring renewal to our groaning cities.

Jesus, we need you, and only you can help! May Saint Paul, Baton Rouge, and Dallas be as it is in heaven. And give us today what we need to bring about restoration in our communities.

So take action, church, by praying.  

Church leaders gather to pray at a Saint Paul police station.

Church leaders gather to pray at a Saint Paul police station.

This post is by Pastor Bryan Lair.