Praying for Change: Daily Prayers for Anti-Racism
By Derek Weber
While the headlines may have receded, the sin of racism continues to be seen and felt on both individual and systemic levels. Dismantling racism is not a short-term task but a lifelong moving forward to perfection in love—to use founder of the Methodist movement, John Wesley’s words. Therefore, Discipleship Ministries and other agencies and bodies of The United Methodist Church will continue to provide resources and guidance on how to become anti-racist individuals and churches. Please seek out the help you need to maintain your efforts to transform your community into an anti-racist fellowship.
The Worship Team of Discipleship Ministries believes, however, that such a change will not happen unless the whole process is bathed in prayer every step along the way. To that end, we will continue to provide daily prayers to help keep us all centered on the ongoing journey of transformation. From Monday through Friday, a new prayer will be posted here for your use as personal devotion, to share in your small group, or for use in corporate worship.
If you wish to receive these prayers each day in your email, the process for signing up is outlined below. If you would like to submit a prayer for anti-racism, click here to contact us. Join with us in this season of prayer and change in our denomination and beyond.
August 12, 2022
You are our God during our weary years, and you are with us during our silent tears. You have provided a bridge for us over our troubled waters. Thank you!
A virtual call to worship summons us to an approximate togetherness. Sometimes we come to you with zoomed prayers and parking lot praises.
Our joyful noise can hide from the world the complaints of our souls and our aching hearts. With sorrows too wrenching for words, we moaned and breathed deeply our prayers to you. We speak to you in our music, our poetry, our dance, our art, and in our silence. From a doctor’s office, hospital room, or our kitchen table or from a pew in a sacred space, or on sidewalks or street corners, dirt roads or concrete pavements, on our jobs or standing in an unemployment line, we never cease calling upon you, because where-ever we are our very daily living is our prayer of hope to you.
We listen for you in our anguish and in our joy.
We listen for you in voices crying for justice, for peace, for health, and for strength.
We listen for the healing of our wounds and feelings of woundedness that are found in our reading and hearing your sacred words and in the grace-filled actions of those whose gifts make us laugh and feel good about being alive.
We pray for our nation that this time of its crisis be an opportunity for an old dream to have new life. A renewal to our mutual commitment that all of us have life, liberty, and freedom to pursue our happiness. Let us lay down by the riverside our burdens and all forms of human oppression and war.
We come to you O, God, as we are and with all we hope to be in this world.
We come to you O, God, standing on your promise to be with us always and to make a way when there seems to be no way to go or turn.
We come to you O, Lord, for in our faith in you we find strength to endure today and hope for tomorrow.
We come to you merciful God, to a holy pause in which to find rest for our souls.
We come to you with decisions to make and to celebrate our thanksgivings.
We come to you, our Creator, so that we can come to ourselves and know that we are precious in your sight.
We come to you with humility and yet also with the boldness of one who is your beloved and for this we give thanks. Amen.
Rev. Frederick J. “Jerry” Streets, Senior Pastor of Dixwell Congregational Church in New Haven, “Prayers for Us All in These Challenging Times,” Children’s Defense Fund website, https://www.childrensdefense.org/child-watch-columns/health/2020/prayers-for-us-all-in-these-challenging-times.
August 11, 2022
Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.
Psalm 85:10-11 NRSV
“Love and faithfulness,” “righteousness and peace”: these words seem to be from an alien tongue these days, O God of hope and promise. We are too often defined by hate and brokenness, by injustice and conflict. A glance through our social media “conversations” only confirms this negativity. So, how do we hold on to hope; how do we work for justice, when our leaders are bent on division and distrust? How do we lean in for this holy kiss, when we fear we will be bitten or burned instead? How long must we wait for fulfillment, for your kin-dom to be on earth as it is in heaven?
Or is it only in heaven? Open our eyes, Lord of this holy kiss, to see you at work through us. Help us see gestures of reconciliation, of equality, of justice. Help us promote the hands united across barriers of race or class. Help us lean into the grace of goodness, even in the face of systemic racism and inbred hate. Help us march on, God of promise and hope, till victory is won. Amen.
Derek Weber, August 2022
August 10, 2022
You made us in Your image,
With minds to know You,
With hearts to love You,
With wills to serve You.
But our knowledge is imperfect,
Our love inconstant and immature,
And our obedience incomplete and self-serving.
Help us day by day grow in Your likeness, which is so widely displayed in the diversity of creation.
Help us to understand our own prejudices and narrow-mindedness.
Help us to love our neighbour as we ourselves long to be loved.
Help us to serve others with humility and gratitude.
Do not hold our sin against us, but help us to repent of outdated and inappropriate world views.
Help us to mature in our thinking, loving and serving.
Prayers from resources prepared by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, from a PowerPoint from Upton Hall School, UK, slide 5, https://www.uptonhallschool.co.uk/_site/data/files/prayers/8B496EECD901E4537B12EECE1A5A32AA.pptx.
August 9, 2022
Dear God, in our efforts to dismantle racism, we understand that we struggle not merely against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities – those institutions and systems that keep racism alive by perpetuating the lie that some members of the family are inferior and others superior.
Create in us a new mind and heart that will enable us to see brothers and sisters in the faces of those divided by racial categories.
Give us the grace and strength to rid ourselves of racial stereotypes that oppress some of us while providing entitlements to others.
Help us to create a Church and nation that embraces the hopes and fears of oppressed People of Color where we live, as well as those around the world.
Heal your family, God, and make us one with you, in union with our brother Jesus, and empowered by your Holy Spirit. Amen.
“A Prayer for Uplifting Human Dignity (May 25, 2018), Written by the Pax Christi Anti-Racism Team, Dominican Sisters of Peace, https://oppeace.org/blog/2018/05/25/prayer-uplifting-human-dignity/.
August 8, 2022
Most merciful God,
We confess that we are mired in sin and cannot get free on our own. We have judged others based on skin color, sex, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, ability, financial and social status. We have preferred the ease and simplicity of placing others into boxes to the complexity of getting to know one another as siblings. We have contributed to and often benefited from systems that maintain the power of a privileged few. We have remained silent in the face of racism, sexism, heterosexism, transphobia, ableism, and other forms of prejudice. Through both our action and inaction, war, poverty, and environmental degradation continue on massive scales. We have ignored your prophets and turned from your command to put you first and neighbor second. We have permitted the ends for which we live to become confused with the means by which we live. Forgive our ignorance. Forgive our weakness. Forgive our sin. May your love overwhelm us, your peace disturb us, and your spirit move us so that we cannot help but do your will at all times and in all places, always glorifying your name.
by Rev. Elizabeth Rawlings, “Confession of Complicity in Injustice,” Disrupt Worship Project, http://www.disruptworshipproject.com/confession-of-complicity-in-injustice/.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.