On March 7, 2021, scores of pastors and ministry leaders from around the Twin Cities gathered to pray at the Hennepin County Courthouse, where the trial for Derek Chauvin would commence the following day. I was asked to pray publicly regarding unity and reconciliation. Here is my prayer:
Our Heavenly Father, the death of George Floyd has underscored a hunger in our cities and around the world for justice, reconciliation, and renewal. We know the only way these come about, ultimately, and in an enduring way, is through the wonder-working power of Jesus Christ.
We call to you, Triune God, because we believe the racial hostilities of our world are deep, demonic, and destructive. Regarding such things Jesus offers His followers this principle: “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer” (Mark 9:29). Thus, we pastors and ministry leaders gather upon this crucial ground. Hear us, O Mighty God!
We pray for unity and reconciliation, but we acknowledge there is not genuine reconciliation and unity without genuine justice. True justice is “God’s rightness manifested in all our relationships, systems, structures, hopes, and dreams.” Such rightness is rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ: the good news that your Kingdom has come near in Jesus, and that through His death, resurrection, ascension, and session at your right hand, shame, fear, filth, injustice, discord, sin, condemnation, death, and the devil no longer have the final word. The Kingdom of Jesus Christ is good news for the whole world, and certainly a world caught in racial trauma.
We acknowledge that there is only one race—the human race. Yet it is divided by ethnicity, language, culture, color, location, and resources. Also, by jealousy, rivalry, contempt, hatred, and fear. Father, we thank you that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has broken down the walls that divide us. We are broken; sinful. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” We thank you that we who would call on the name of Jesus—in faith—might be reconciled to you and then to one another through His shed blood. “For Jesus is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility . . . reconciling us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility” (Eph 2:13-16). But God, may we, through the power that raised Jesus from the dead, live according to this new reality—repentant, humble, selfless, lamenting, listening, learning, serving, seeing—rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep. In short, loving like Jesus.
Father, as Pastor Rich Villodas has written, “We confess the gospel is good news for the oppressed and the oppressor. Both are raised up; both are liberated but in different ways. The oppressed are raised up from the harsh burden of inferiority, the oppressor from the destructive illusion of superiority. We confess that the gospel is your power to form a new people not identified by dominance and superiority but by unity in the Spirit” (The Deeply Formed Life, p. 80)
So, Heavenly Father, through your only-begotten Son, Jesus—naked, scourged, crucified, killed and risen—and the Holy Spirit sent to form us into one new, redeemed humanity, heal us. Unify us. Let us truly be a Christ-centered community for all peoples, moving toward Jesus and taking others with us. Let us experience on earth your will which is manifested in Heaven. Worthy is Jesus, for He was slain, and by His blood He ransomed sinners for God “from every tribe and language and people and nation—a Kingdom of priests to our God who shall reign on the earth” (Rev 5:9-10).
Help us to reign—to rejoice our communities with your eternal shalom. May we who are covered with the blood of Jesus stand together—pastors, ministry leaders, business women and businessmen, protestors, government officials, community organizers, police officers, teachers, judges—disciples of the bloodied, killed, yet risen Jesus. No matter our ethnicity, language, culture, color, location, or resources, unite us. May we be one new people who reach for your rightness to be manifested in our relationships, spaces, and aspirations. May we lament together when we fall short, rejoice together when we see fruit, stand together when the world, the flesh, and the devil seek to divide, and cling to the blood-soaked cross of Jesus with all humility, joy, integrity, courage, and, chiefly . . . love. May this be so for all followers of Jesus, on whatever paths they find themselves across this magnificent but broken globe.
Help us, O God, to manifest your truth, with love—as peacemakers, reconcilers, pilgrims in this weary land, who, through the power of your Holy Spirit are united together, for the glory of Jesus and the good of humankind, to see “justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24).
In the name of our glorious Lord and Savior, Jesus, who makes all things new, we pray. Amen.