Praying for Change: Daily Prayers for Anti-Racism (January-March 2022)
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JANUARY 3, 2022
Source of All Being, Creator of All Life, may Your goodness find its way into the hearts of all Your children.
May those who wield power do so with a balance of wisdom, justice and compassion. May those who feel powerless remember their intrinsic worth, and also act with a balance of wisdom, integrity and compassion.
May we all feel called to action based on the injustices of racism, and see ourselves not as enemies of one another, not in struggle with one another, but as human beings, created in the image of God, connected to one another’s well-being.
May all of us come to acknowledge the racism that is pervasive in our region and our nation.
May we commit to sitting down with one another in honest dialogue, opening our hearts in compassion to one another, bearing witness to the pain and fear of one another, even if … and especially if … “the other” looks and seems so different from ourselves.
May we commit to joining together in acts of justice that will bring about equality in education, economic opportunities, law enforcement and judicial proceedings.
May each of us come to understand that, ultimately, “my” experience of freedom, justice and peace is inextricably linked to the freedom, justice and peace of every other person in our county and city, our country and our world. May we open our eyes to the invisible lines of connection that unite us, and with clarity of vision, continue to work for a world where every person’s life is valued, cherished and loved.
A Prayer for Our Community by Rabbi Andrea Goldsetin, Congregation Shaare Emeth, St. Louis, MO, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, https://rac.org/selma-50th-anniversary-prayers.
JANUARY 4, 2022
Almighty God, Source of all that is, Giver of every good gift: You create all people in your image and call us to love one another as you love us.
We confess that we have failed to honor you in the great diversity of the human family.
We have desired to live in freedom, while building walls between ourselves and others.
We have longed to be known and accepted for who we are, while making judgments of others based on the color of skin, or the shape of features, or the varieties of human experience.
We have tried to love our neighbors individually while yet benefitting from systems that hold those same neighbors in oppression.
Forgive us, Holy God.
Give us eyes to see you as you are revealed in all people.
Strengthen us for the work of reconciliation rooted in love.
Restore us in your image, to be beloved community, united in our diversity, even as you are one with Christ and the Spirit, Holy and undivided Trinity, now and forever. Amen.
All Saints Episcopal Church, Portsmouth, Ohio, http://allsaintsportsmouth.org/racial-reconciliation-and-justice.
JANUARY 5, 2022
God of justice, in your wisdom you create all people in your image, without exception. Through your goodness, open our eyes to see the dignity, beauty, and worth of every human being. Open our minds to understand that all your children are brothers and sisters in the same human family. Open our hearts to repent of racist attitudes, behaviors, and speech which demean others. Open our ears to hear the cries of those wounded by racial discrimination and their passionate appeals for change. Strengthen our resolve to make amends for past injustices and to right the wrongs of history. And fill us with courage that we might seek to heal wounds, build bridges, forgive and be forgiven, and establish peace and equality for all in our communities. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
A Prayer for Racial Healing, St. Elizabeth Anne Seaton Parish, Shrub Oak, NY, https://seton-parish.org/prayer-for-racial-healing.
JANUARY 6, 2022
Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
in light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise.
-Walter C. Smith, “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise,” 1867, United Methodist Hymnal, 103
Why, O God of wisdom, is the light hidden from our eyes? Why are you so elusive, so invisible to those of us who claim to stand in your light? On this day of Epiphany, we indeed want the light to shine forth; we want to see you; we want to know you; we want to be surrounded by the wonder of your presence among us. Let us see, O Invisible One, let us see.
Unless you aren’t the one hiding. Maybe you are present in every face we see, smooth baby smiles that greet the world with wonder, and the weathered skin of experience that sees nothing new under the sun. If we looked, stopped hiding our eyes from those whose skin tone is different, whose accent is foreign, we might see the wonder of you, the gaze of the Creator hidden in the creation.
This day of Epiphany, open our eyes to see that which has been hidden by our short-sightedness. May we set aside the blinders of prejudice and see more than what is before our eyes. May we see glory all around us, this day and every day. Amen.
Derek C. Weber, December 2021
JANUARY 7, 2022
God of the past, present and the future at the start of the New Year, we look back with a sense of boldness and a thankful heart. We give thanks that you keep your promises, taking care of the poor, the weak, the oppressed and the marginalised.
This day, generous God, we are listening for your call.
We hear you say, where there is despair, and we respond
“Here we are Lord, transform and send us.
We hear you say: where there is injustice, pain and brokenness, and we respond:
“Here we are Lord, transform and send us”
We hear you say: where there is prejudice, indifference and exclusion, and we respond
“Here we are Lord, transform and send us”
We hear you say: spread my way of generosity, healing and reconciliation, and we respond
“Here we are Lord, transform and send us.”
God who answers prayers and keeps promises, on this day we call to you, (pause)…..answer our call. Hear us Lord as we work for a better world. All this we do through the strength of the Holy Spirit.
“Here I Am Lord, Send Me” (Based on Isaiah 6:1-13), Zaidie Orr for Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, Resourcing Racial Justice Sunday, 2019 https://ctbi.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Resourcing-Racial-Justice-Sunday-2019.pdf, page 4.
JANUARY 10, 2022
You give us prophets, holy God, to cry out for justice and mercy. Open our ears to hear them, and to follow the truth they speak, lest we support injustice to secure our own well-being.
Give prophets the fire of your Word, but love as well. Though they speak for you, may they know that they stand with us before you, and have no Messiah other than your Son.
Jesus Christ, the Lord of all. Amen.
The Worship Book: Services, The Westminster Press, 1970, posted on “Prayers for Racial Harmony,” faithward, https://www.faithward.org/prayers-for-racial-harmony.
JANUARY 11, 2022
God of mercy and compassion,
We come before you today in grief, in anger, in mourning over the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castille, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Sean Bell, Sandra Bland, George Floyd and the litany of names of men and women who have died at the hands of those charged to protect and serve. You know each one of them by name, and we know that each were wonderfully created in your own image and likeness. Their lives matter to you and to us, and so we ask you, God, to etch their memories forever on our hearts.
Lord, we are tired of the senseless acts of violence, the injustices, the oppression, the racism, and the ignored laments of black and brown communities. Hear us, Lord. Open the hearts, minds, and ears of all your children to hear and understand the cries of pain, of sadness, of trauma, and of immense loss.
Your Son, Jesus came to us that we “may have life, and have it abundantly.” May each of us be committed to sharing life and love in our world. May we speak truth to power. May we allow the Spirit to lead us to act for justice. Lord, we invite you to use us so that we might bring about a transformation in our world; a transformation that makes a beloved community real here on this earth.
“A Prayer for Racial Justice,” Grotto, https://grottonetwork.com/keep-the-faith/prayer/prayer-against-racism.
JANUARY 12, 2022
On this day we confess that the sin of racial hatred and prejudice distorts your divine plan for our human lives:
You created us in divine likeness, diverse and beautiful: In every person, every race is your image. But too often we fail to recognize your image in all: Forgive us.
You created us in divine freedom, to be free: In every decision, every choice is your possibility of justice. But too often we fail to choose to advocate for your justice for all: Forgive us.
You created us for divine abundance, to tend and share: In every garden, every social structure is your seed of community. But too often we fail to create that community which includes all, and gives to all equal access to your abundant life: Forgive us.
Open our eyes to distinguish good from evil. Open our hearts to desire good over evil. Strengthen our wills to choose good over evil, so that we may create among us your beloved community.
“Prayer of Confession for Racial Justice,” United Church of Christ, posted on the website of Action of Greater Lansing, https://www.actionofgreaterlansing.org/prayers-for-justice.
JANUARY 13, 2022
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6 NRSV
Varieties, Lord? Yes, there are times when variety is good, even beautiful. But too often variety leads to disagreement, which leads to conflict, which leads, inevitably these days it seems, to violence. Wouldn’t it be better if we were all the same? Had the same opinions, the same hopes, and the same dreams? Wouldn’t it be easier if we all looked the same and sounded the same and lived the same? I’d risk boredom for safety, Lord, for the peace of sameness.
Yet, that doesn’t seem to be your plan for creation. From the very beginning, there was variety; there was a multi-hued, multi-gifted, multi-voiced foundation to all that there is. And the unity you invite us into is not the unity of sameness, but the harmony of difference that sings in a symphony of variety.
Help us, then, rid ourselves of the fear of variety, the divisions of difference, and find unity through your Spirit in service with those like us and those unlike us. Let us be bound together in love with all the varieties of gifts and service and activities, that we might find hope in this new year.
Amen, and thanks be to the God of variety.
Derek C. Weber, January 2022
JANUARY 14, 2022
God of heaven and Earth, you created the one human family and endowed each person with great dignity. Aid us, we pray, in overcoming the sin of racism. Grant us your grace in eliminating this blight from our hearts, our communities, our social and civil institutions. Fill our hearts with love for you and our neighbor so that we may work with you in healing our land from racial injustice. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
From “Mass of Peace and Justice,” Sept 9, 2020, SS Peter and Paul Cathedral, Indianapolis, Indiana, posted on “Prayers for Racial Healing in Our Land,” The Criterion Online Edition, https://www.archindy.org/CRITERION/local/2020/09-18/racism-prayers.html.
JANUARY 17, 2022
Dearest Jesus, come and sit with us today. Show us the lies that are still embedded in the soul of America’s consciousness. Unmask the untruths we have made our best friends. For they seek our destruction. And we are being destroyed, Lord. Reveal the ways the lies have distorted and destroyed our relationships. They break your shalom . . . daily. Jesus, give us courage to embrace the truth about ourselves and you and our world. Truth: We are all made in your image. Truth: You are God; we are not. You are God; money is not. You are God; jails, bombs and bullets are not.
And Jesus, give us faith to believe: Redemption of people, relationships, communities and whole nations is possible! Give us faith enough to renounce the lies and tear down the walls that separate us with our hands, with our feet, and with our votes!
Martin Luther King, Jr., collected by Lewis Baldwin, professor at Vanderbilt University, and author of Never to Leave Us Alone: The Prayer Life of Martin Luther King Jr. https://prayerandpolitiks.org/articles-essays-sermons/prayers-of-martin-luther-king-jr.
JANUARY 18, 2022
O Lord our God, in your mercy and kindness, no thought of ours is left unnoticed, no desire or concern ignored. You have proven that blessings abound when we fall on our knees in prayer, and so we turn to you in our hour of need.
Surrounded by violence and cries for justice, we hear your voice telling us what is required, “Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Mi 6:8). Fill us with your mercy so that we, in turn, may be merciful to others.
Strip away pride, suspicion, and racism so that we may seek peace and justice in our communities. Strengthen our hearts so that they beat only to the rhythm of your holy will. Flood our path with your light as we walk humbly toward a future filled with encounter and unity.
Be with us, O Lord, in our efforts, for only by the prompting of your grace can we progress toward virtue. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, posted on “Prayers for Racial Justice and Reconciliation, jesuitresource.org, https://www.xavier.edu/jesuitresource/online-resources/prayer-index/prayers-for-racial-justice-and-reconciliation.
JANUARY 19, 2022
God of freedom, we pray for our nation and for all nations of the world: for peace and justice for all your people; for the crumbling of boundaries that divide us along lines of race, class, color, language, or religion; for our leaders, that they may serve the common good with integrity and goodwill. Inspire all people with courage to speak out against hatred, to actively contend with and never make peace with evil, especially the sins of racism and white supremacy. Unite the human family in bonds of love.
Silence — Add your prayers silently or aloud
God of freedom,
Hear our prayers for the world.
Excerpted from Prayers of the People During Time of Racial Unrest and Pandemic, The Episcopal Diocese of Newark, https://dioceseofnewark.org/sites/default/files/resources/Intercessions%20-%20Racial%20Justice%20and%20Pandemic.pdf.
JANUARY 20, 2022
One God, in Three Persons, creator of one human species, in many hues:
All who pray to you are descendants of Adam and Eve, all members of one race called “human.”
Forgive the blindness that causes our eyes to notice and magnify those things we regard as different from ourselves in others.
Teach us to see clearly, that we, your children, are far more alike than we are different. Help us to put aside the racial prejudices embedded within us, and to see within every person the Child of God you created, our sister or brother, destined for Glory.
In the name of One who died for all persons, of all colors, Jesus Christ.
From Race & The History of Tyler, Texas Timeline website, http://www.tylerhistory.org/prayers-for-justice-week-1/.
JANUARY 21, 2022
God of History and God of Now,
In this week when we remember the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we are not at all surprised to see his words and his image continue to be quoted and presented. There is so much that we still need to hear from his witness and his life. There is so much challenge and so much hope contained in this remembrance. May we listen and learn, and most importantly, act on these words and by this witness.
What does surprise us, God of truth, is how even his words can be made to say anything and everything, including the exact opposite of what he said. To use a quote from Dr. King to squash any conversation about how oppressed people have been and continue to be treated in this nation is an affront to the very witness we are called to remember and celebrate.
So, let us be mindful of words, Lord, Dr. King’s words, our words, even your words. Let us remember the power of words and the power of our sinfulness to misuse that power. And let us remember that lie we used to believe, that words can never hurt, as we live for truth and unity and peace. In your name and by your grace, Amen.
Derek C. Weber, January 2022