I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to pray in the midst of a time like this. A time when all you have to do is get on Twitter or television and you’re bombarded with images and videos from our local community and across the nation of people in anguish and fear, and the ways others are responding to it.
This morning, I arrived at church and went to the sanctuary to pray as I always do and I was at a loss for what to share with the Lord. I felt like I had no words to offer in regard to everything being experienced.
From protestors being hit by police cars, to the President tear-gassing a church so that he could have a photo opportunity with a Bible in his hands, to the countless images of violence being perpetrated against those who are demonstrating peacefully.
It’s difficult to know how to put into words how I’m feeling, how to communicate it to God, and how we should (perhaps) all be feeling about this. And I was reminded this morning, particularly as a pastor who feels like I always have to be coming up with new, fresh, and insightful things to say, that I can rely on the words of others.
And, in particular, I can rely on the prayers of others.
Karl Barth once said, “To clasp hands together in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.”
That’s how I try to think of prayer whenever I pray whether it’s individually or corporately.
Therefore, I would like to share a prayer from someone else, a prayer that has meant a lot to me, and feels even more important considering the condition of our current condition:
Lies We Wrap in Love – Stanley Hauerwas
Lord, we often ask you to invade our lives,
To plumb the secrets of our hearts unknown even to ourselves.
But in fact we do not desire that.
What we really want to scream,
If only to ourselves,
Is “Do not reveal to us who we are!”
We think we are better people if you leave us to our illusions.
Yes, we know another word for a life of illusion is hell.
But we are surrounded by many caught up in such a hell –
People too deficient of soul even to be capable of lying,
But only of self-deceit.
Dear God, we ask for your mercy on all those so caught,
Particularly if we are among them.
The loneliness of such a life is terrifying.
Remind us, compel us to be truthful, painful as that is.
For without the truth, without you, we die.
Save us from the pleasantness which too often is but a name for ambition.
Save us from the temptation to say to another what we think he/she wants to hear
Rather than what we both need to hear.
The regimen of living your truth is hard,
But help us remember that any love but truthful love is cursed.
The lie wrapped in love is just another word for violence.
For God’s sake, for the world’s sake, give us the courage to speak truthfully,
So that we might be at peace with one another and with you. Amen.
So, whether it’s with your own prayers, or the prayers of those who came before, I pray that today you find a way to clasp your hands in prayer such that is a beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.