Prayer

Weekly Prayer for an End to Racism

Each Thursday at 7:00am, in whatever time zone you find yourself in, we are encouraging everyone to stop and pray for an end to racism.


Devotional and prayer for Thursday, March 29:

Last Saturday, I was present for the March For Our Lives in Washington, DC. I attended with my young adult daughters and thousands upon thousands of people. It was a powerful day.

Like many of you, I have been transfixed by the courageous and articulate students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. They reminded all of us that this human and politicized problem of gun violence adversely affects persons of color. And they rightly chided all of the adults listening that these stories of gun violence and suffering have not been heard.

It is our students and young adults who have taken to heart the words of Scripture which challenge us to speak for the poor, the disenfranchised, the marginalized and the traumatized. They bring energy, hope, and determination to creating that “Beloved Community” across our nation. And they are correct to call us out for being indifferent or complacent.

As stated by The King Center:

Dr. King’s Beloved Community is a global vision in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth. In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger, and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry, and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.

I haven’t been free of racist attitudes and micro-aggressions, nor always been aware of how my privilege as a white, straight female has affected my perceptions. I certainly have not always spoken up when I witnessed prejudice and racism. But The Beloved Community can come to life around us if we who are parents, leaders, writers, preachers, and teachers respond to the prodding of our students to bring about change.

Pray with me:

Holy One,

Over and over, You have shown mercy and kindness to us, teaching us and rebuking us when our hearts do not reflect Yours when our words and actions do not represent Your love for all of Your people.

Forgive us, change us, and make us one, for Your love is the groundswell of power that will change our nation and our world.

By the power in the Name above all names,

Amen.

Rev. Deborah Vaughn, BCC is a hospice chaplain endorsed by the Alliance of Baptists, and serves as Assistant Minister at Twinbrook Baptist Church in Rockville, Maryland. She is also the Coordinator of Christian Feminists Today and blogs at An Unfinished Symphony. Along with some of the other writers of these Thursday prayers, she is part of the ACT Now! Prayer and Spirituality committee.


Prayer for Thursday, March 22:

O God, our heavenly Father, You have made us of one blood, all nations to dwell upon the earth. You created the human family to be at one with each other, “to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).”

We confess, O God, that instead of recognizing and celebrating our oneness, we have divided ourselves into races, classes, colors, and nationalities. ….

We have witnessed the brutality, the lynching, the hatred, the prejudice, the segregation, and the denial of freedom and justice for all.

The cancer of racism is gnawing away the moral fabric of our nation. …

O God, we pray that you will open our eyes and heal the brokenness of our nation and world. … Help us know that we are one, and help us overcome racism, bigotry, and hatred. Help us be instruments of your love so that where there is hatred, we might bring love. …

In the name of Jesus, our Lord, who is the Christ, we make this request.

Amen.

Rev. Vernon Shannon is the Ecumenical and Governmental Representative of the Philadelphia and Baltimore AME Zion Church Conference.

Excerpted from United Against Racism: Churches for Change
Joseph V. Crockett, Ed.D., CEO and Editorial Director. Friendship Press, April 4, 2018.


Devotion and Prayer for Thursday, March 15:

If you always assume
the man sitting next to you
is the Messiah
waiting for some simple human kindness-
You will soon come to weigh your words
and watch your hands.
And if he so chooses
not to reveal himself
in your time–
It will not matter.

I have always loved this poem by Danny Siegel, (A Rebbe’s Proverb: From the Yiddish).  How often we forget that we were all created B’tzelem Ehohim (“in the image of God”). This core Jewish value, this fundamental human value, guides our holy work in fighting systemic racial injustice in our world. May we always lead our lives in a way that is fully present and filled with love and deep understanding. And may the Divine spark within each of us lead us to a glimpse of the messianic age, where the world is perfected, and hatred and bigotry are banished.

Prayer:

Holy One of Blessing, may Your loving guidance help us find our way to unify our hearts, our voices and our communities so we may we be called to action to dismantle the pervasive racism, bigotry and hatred that still exists in our broken world.

Through Your infinite love, may we stand up – stronger together – and confront the pain that persists, recognizing that although we have come far, we still have a long way to go to fight systemic racism and xenophobia in this country.

Dear God, in Your infinite mercy and compassion, help us to find ways to take meaningful action together, always recognizing that we are each created “B’tzelem Elohim”, in Your image, serving a common purpose to build a more just, humane, and compassionate world.

Amen.

Cantor Jacqueline Rawiszer serves Congregation of Reform Judaism in Orlando, Florida and is Vice President of Member Relations and External Partnerships of the American Conference of Cantors (ACC), a member of the Urgency of Now Criminal Justice Campaign Leadership Team of the Religious Action Center (RAC) and a Member of the Commission in Social Action of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ).


Prayer for Thursday, March 8:

By Rabbi Shoshanah Conover

El Roi, Source of Vision, Source of Life,
Let us see beyond the mountain top
Into the Promised Land
As did Your great prophet Moses millennia ago.
Let us behold this nation’s promise
As did your modern prophet Martin decades ago.
Embolden us to feel the fire shut up in our bones,
Burning to tell the stories of injustice.

Remind us—just as Aaron and his sons carried names of twelve tribes
Atop precious stones on their shoulders,
Gems as memorials across their hearts,
We carry them, too:
Reuven, Shimon, and Levi
Judah, Isaachar, and Zebulun
Dan, Naphtali, and Gad,
Asher, Joseph, and Benjamin.

To those names we add:
Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner,
King, Heschel, and Nash,
Baldwin, Brooks, and Angelou,
Rice, Zainab, and one gem with no name
For all those who lived with purpose and died without recognition.

HaKadosh Baruch Hu, Holy One of Blessing,
Bless us with renewed courage.
As You promised Your prophet Ezekiel,
Replace our stony, beleaguered hearts
With revived spirits and determined souls.

While trouble is in the land; confusion all around,
May we yet see Your legion of stars in this darkness.
Let us recognize Your majesty
And gentle touch in our lives.
Beckon us to reflect Your light. 

Shomea Tefilah, God Who Hears Our Prayer,
Teach us to build our nation
As our ancestors built Your Tabernacle
With tapestries of unity, fine linens of dignity,
Skins of righteousness and offerings of joy.

Illuminate the sacred inscription we each wear:
“Holy to God.”
We are all made in Your image.

Let us hear Your eternal call:
Chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek
Be strong, be strong, and may we be strengthened.

O God, through Your guidance, with Your wisdom, and by Your love,
May we know that Your presence rests in the work of our hands.

 


Devotion for Thursday, March 1:

Thirty years ago, I was asked to start a new African American congregation in a predominately white denomination, The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The person who asked confessed that she was a participant in this sin of racism.  I had no idea at the time of how starting a new congregation would cause such a spiritual struggle and how racism was at its roots.   

It really reared its ugly head when we were going to have to close the congregation.  The majority of the congregation were children with no income and many individuals who fell between the margins economically. All needed Jesus, and a place to belong, believe and become.  Isn’t that why the church exists?  The church is God’s and not ours.  If we are called to break down the walls within, we need to see what God will do.

Though very painful, I have discovered the walls of racism can fall down and are eradicated when we develop partnerships with one another.  When you learn about one another, are honest with one another, and spend time with one another, and above all pray, you develop the faith that God will do what we cannot.   

Solomon says in Proverbs 3: 5-6 (NIV)  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

STAY THE COURSE!!    Don’t give up.  I thank God I stayed.  God is working it out!

David says it so well in the Psalm 23:4  “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for you are with me……….

Prayer 

Eternal and Most Powerful God, 

Please fill us with the power and presence of your Holy Spirit, your forgiveness and love.   Help us remember not to get weary in well doing for you are with us.   Because of your love for us, we pray – Amen.

Rev. Brenda Cardwell
Founding Pastor of Pilgrimage Christian Church, Suitland MD
Co-Author of “Journey Toward Wholeness”
Past Chair of the CCCA Pro-Reconciliation Anti Racism Team


Devotion for Thursday, February 22:

Serve Humanity

When I was twelve years old, my sisters and I encountered racism while enjoying an outing to the theatre with our cousin. After the movie, we stopped at a nearby diner for lunch. We seated ourselves expecting to be served rather quickly. Other patrons came in, seated themselves, and placed their orders. We noticed that no server had come to take our order.

My cousin motioned for a server and she made it clear how long we had been sitting with no service. The server, a white woman, grimaced when she spoke words that I will never forget as long as I live: “We don’t serve your kind here.” My cousin said, “Our kind. What do you mean by our kind?” They were both angry and the server made her words even more clear; “We do not serve black people here.”

My heart dropped and I could see that my sisters felt the same pain. I had heard stories about racial incidents and seen pictures depicting the experiences of freedom riders in the south, but never did I expect to face such blatant racism in the 1970’s. I thought racism was over because of the activism against segregation, but I realized it was still alive. I made a commitment in my heart that I would never live in hatred toward another human being because of the color of their skin, but that I would serve humanity.

With the painful experiences I suffered and witnessed, I have held to my childhood vow to serve humanity. We can serve together in an effort to eradicate racism from the face of the earth. This is a cause well worth the fight. ~ Peace

Prayer:

Heavenly Father,
Teach us that the whole body of humanity is only one element of Your creativity.
Convict us of our prejudices against others and of our cultural biases.
Send Your healing balm and teach us how to serve humanity;
in Jesus’ mighty name ~ Amen.

Rev. Sharon Sanderlin Cheek, a Licensed Mental Health Therapist operating in God’s healing power and committed to the work of intercession for souls all over the world, is the first female to serve as Pastor of First AME Zion Church, San Francisco in its 165-year history.


Devotion for Thursday, February 15:

When Trayvon Martin was killed, I served a church in Maine, in a very white town you might call a ruburb – a cross between a growing suburb and the rural town that once was. One of the church families who had been there many generations included three biracial grandchildren. They lived just down the road from church with their grandparents. The town bordered on a more affluent suburb; the two towns formed one school district, and I often saw the two older grandchildren walking along the country road between the two. Before Trayvon’s death, I worried about their safety because the road had so little shoulder, but after, well. After I worried about who might think they did not belong in the town, who might wonder if the boy, in particular, posed a threat, and who might feel empowered to do something about it.

“Nothing like that could ever happen here” is a lie we keep telling ourselves until it happens where we are.

The only chance to stop it is to start saying, “Things like that can happen here, and will happen here unless we talk about why we believe they should not.”

It may feel like hard work. It is hard work. The forces that support systemic racism are strong. But this is not the first time that God’s people have faced seemingly overpowering enemies.

“Cast your burden on the Lord — God will support you!

God will never let the righteous be shaken!” (Psalm 55:22, Common English Bible)

With God’s help and our commitment, justice can and will prevail.

Prayer: Great Holy God, we rely on you. Empower us to bring about an age of righteous understanding and radical acceptance. Amen.

The Rev. Martha Spong is a United Church of Christ pastor, author, and Executive Director of RevGalBlogPals.