DeYoung: A prayer for Mercy

“This was my pastoral prayer from yesterday. After hearing from several people in my church who asked for a copy of the prayer, I decided to post the video and a transcript of the prayer here on my blog.

‘O great God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God who created all things, the God above all gods, the God who was, and is, and is to come, the God who never changes, the God who never slumbers nor sleeps, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy upon us.

We are in the midst of a global pandemic. More than 100,000 lives lost in this country alone. We hear of new cases, new hospitalizations, new deaths each day.

Lord have mercy.

In the last three months 40,000 million Americans have entered the ranks of the unemployed. Many who still have a job are scared. Others are anxious, depressed.

Lord have mercy.

As states re-open some cities and neighborhoods, even some families and churches, are sniping at each other over masks or no masks, re-open quickly or re-open slowly, COVID is worse than you think or this has been a massive over-reaction.

Lord have mercy.

As Christians, we have grieved to be separated from the people we love and care for. We have been forced to give up meeting together for a time. So much about ministry seems harder, more uncertain, less fulfilling. We don’t fully know when normal will return, or what normal will look like, or what to do in the meantime.

Lord have mercy.

On Monday, a white police officer in Minneapolis put his knee on the neck of George Floyd for eight minutes, murdering a black man made in the image of God, while three other officers did nothing to stop the injustice.

Lord have mercy.

The anger and fear and pain felt in the black community isn’t prompted by this one incident alone. It comes out of the legacy of slavery, and Jim Crow, and too many times where power and force were used against them in ways that are evil and unjust.

Lord have mercy.

Every time we witness another tragedy like this we know it makes the difficult and honorable job of law enforcement almost impossible. Many police officers–risking their lives to serve and protect–will suffer unfairly because of actions done a thousand miles away, actions they condemn, actions outside their control.

Lord have mercy.

And now we see dozens and dozens of our great cities are torn apart by senseless destruction and violence. Businesses have been burnt down. Grocery stories destroyed. Neighborhoods ruined. Lives threatened or lost.

Lord have mercy.

You have our attention. O God, give us ears to hear. What do you want to say to us in your word? What should we do? What needs to change? How can we help?

Let us do as our own Catechism instructs us and obey the sixth commandment by preserving the life of ourselves and others, but resisting all thoughts and purposes, subduing all passions, and avoiding all occasions, temptations, and practices which tend to the unjust taking away the life of any. Let our lives be marked by charitable thoughts, love, compassion, meekness, gentleness, kindness, peaceable, mild, and courteous speeches and behavior. Let us forbear with others and demonstrate a readiness to be reconciled, and a patient enduring and forgiving of injuries. Let us comfort the distressed and protect and defend the innocent (WLC 135).

We pray for justice for the murder of George Floyd. We pray for those living in utter chaos and darkness in Minneapolis and St. Paul, or facing the loss of property or loss of life in Atlanta, Portland, Los Angeles, Seattle, Louisville, for facing rising tensions in Oakland, San Jose, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Chicago, Washington, D.C., New York City, and here in Charlotte. We pray for repentance for those who sinned against George Floyd, those who have responded in sin, and those of us–perhaps all of us–who have harbored sin in our hearts toward those who seem to be on the other side, part of the other team, those who vote for the other party.

We pray for whatever necessary reforms might give hope and healing and and dignity and the feeling of safety fo our black brothers and sisters, especially here in our church. We pray for bravery and safety, and fortitude for our law enforcement officers, especially here in our church. We pray for the Mayor of Charlotte, Vi Lyles and CMPD Police Chief Putney. Give them wisdom, strength, integrity, grace as they lead through these difficult days.

We pray for our political, religious, and civic leaders. May they be humble, honest, measured, principled, open to good ideas wherever they come form, self-sacrificing, disciplined, courageous, and compassionate. Where we have such leaders may we listen to them and follow them. Where our leaders do not exhibit these qualities, help them to change and repent. We seek the peace of our city and all the cities of this great country.

We weep. We lament. We mourn. But not as those who have no hope.

May gospel beauty rise from these smoldering, literal ashes. May truth triumph over lies and grace conquer lawlessness. May your people be one as you, O Father, and your Son are one. May the church–the body of Christ, the bride of Christ–rise up as an example of love and with a message of salvation for a weary and war-torn world. Give us grace to serve you, O God, and, if necessary, grace to suffer for what is right. Give us the peace and health and safety we do not deserve. Give us the reformation and revival we need.

Lord have mercy.’”

-Kevin DeYoung (PhD, University of Leicester) is senior pastor of Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina, board chairman of The Gospel Coalition, and assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte). He has authored numerous books, including Just Do Something. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have eight children: Ian, Jacob, Elizabeth, Paul, Mary, Benjamin, Tabitha, and Andrew.


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