On Tuesday, I read about ANOTHER shooting of an unarmed black man by a police officer. Today I finally gathered the courage to watch the video. I am sickened, horrified, and deeply disturbed. I feel anger, desperation, and grief. Sadly, “shocked” is an emotion that didn’t make that list. And the fact that these shootings are so commonplace sickens me all the more. My heart aches for the families who have lost brothers, sons, and fathers to these killings. As I look out on my quiet suburban street, I know that many men, women, and children in my nation don’t feel the same safety I’m privileged to feel outside their own home. This nags at me and gnaws at my insides. I hate it. The only comfort I find is in knowing God hates it too.
Also on Tuesday, 147 people were killed in Kenya in a brutal terrorist attack on a university. There are countless tears being cried over each precious life, unjustly taken. As I watched my daughters playing today, I marveled over how smart they are already. And I recognized they have the privilege of pursuing their education without fear of death, unlike many in Kenya right now. My stomach ties in knots thinking about the mothers who are choosing between safety and education for their children. And I know God is enraged by this injustice.
When I’m faced with the violence and evil that is happening all over the world right now, it’s hard to even know how to process it. I rarely know what to pray. Sometimes I find myself whispering “Lord, have mercy.” And sometimes when I see the images and read the stories and desperately grope in the dark for the words I need, I remember the prayer of Jesus:
“Our father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come.
May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.”
Our father. Yes, not just mine. Ours. May we recognize who you are, and adore you for it.
Bring your kingdom-the place where all is put to right, where the lion and lamb lay down together and peace and justice reign. May your perfect, loving, kind, righteous will be done here in this hurting world.
Give us what we need for today. We can’t handle more, we can’t get by with less.
Forgive us, God. A thousand times over, forgive us. Forgive me for the hate and anger welling up in my own heart-it scares me half to death. Forgive me for the ugliness I see in myself so often. You are the great forgiver, and I offer myself up to you, throwing myself on your mercy.
God, help us to forgive. Forgiveness is the only way forward into your light.
God, protect us from the corruption around us and within us. May we stand unyielding to temptation-to the forces that seem to overpower us and pull us in the direction of fear and finger-pointing and us-versus-them. Rescue us from evil.
That is my prayer most often, lately.