A Pastor’s Prayer for Minneapolis and our Nation
Last week I was out of town so I recorded Sunday's sermon early in the week before the grievous footage and fate of George Floyd played out in the streets of Minnesota, and the grievous aftermath unfolded last weekend in streets across America. If I was doing the service live, I would have mentioned these events in the message and/or in my opening prayer after reading the text of Psalm 46 before preaching. Here's what I'd say and pray:
We read in Psalm 46 of nations that rage and the burning of weapons and the peace that can come to a city amid turmoil. We pray that peace for our cities, for Minneapolis and many cities across our nation, for protests to be peaceful and for violent striving to cease, that sinners might be still and know that you are God. Be exalted above racism or rioting or responding in wrong ways, and utter your voice in this earth to melt hearts and hatred.
The psalm says we will not fear, but there are many who fear. Moms fear prejudice and violence like this can happen to their son even as he cries out for her and begs for mercy like George did. There's fear in communities where vandalism, violence, and vigilantism has destroyed local businesses beyond what a virus could. There's fear among good officers seeking to uphold the law in dangerous situations. Be a mighty fortress, our God, to preserve all human life you've made in your likeness. We grieve a brutal death of your image bearer at the hands of a "peace officer" sworn to protect and serve. Bring hope and healing to the Floyd family and these communities and bring greater understanding and empathy and above all, bring your love and grace in Jesus that is greater than all our sin.
May your church rightly lament, look beyond pre-conceived ideas or politics to the people impacted, listen to and learn from our black brethren who hurt, and may love overcome hate. As your Word says "For we ourselves were once ... hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy..." - Titus 3:3-5. God help us to ultimately lead people or conversations to Christ as our refuge and strength and the gospel's very present help in time of trouble. Help us remember the ultimate injustice of the cross brings ultimate mercy to any shade of skin or ethnicity, sin or enmity, as Jesus can redeem and reconcile all. In His name we pray.
John Piper has pastored in the inner city of Minneapolis for decades and prays as an insider for his city. Here's part of his prayer we played this link from the 5 minute mark in our family devotions as we talked about this and how to pray for all those involved:
"For those who knew George Floyd best and loved him most, bring them your consolation, and direct their hearts to the God of all comfort.
For Derek Chauvin, who put his knee on Floyd’s neck for seven minutes until he died, we ask for the mercy of repentance and the judgment of justice. For officers Thomas Lane and Tou Thao and Alexander Kueng, who stood by, we pray that grief and fear will bear the fruit of righteous remorse; and may the seriousness of the killing and the cowardice of the complicity meet with proper penalties.
For the upright police who have watched all ten minutes of the unbearable video of Floyd’s dying, who consider it “horrific” and “inhuman,” who find it unbelievable that Chauvin did not say a single word for seven minutes as the man under his knee pled for his life, and who lament with dashed hopes that they must start again from “square one” to rebuild what meager trust they hoped to have won — for these worthy servants of our city, we pray that they would know the patient endurance of Jesus Christ, who suffered for deeds he did not do.
For police chief Medaria Arradondo, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, our Mayor Jacob Frey, and our Governor Tim Walz, we ask for the kind of wisdom that only God can give — the kind king Solomon had when he said, “Cut the baby in half” (1 Kings 3:16–28), and discovered the true mother.
May our leaders love the truth, seek the truth, stand unflinching for the truth, and act on the truth. Let nothing, O Lord, be swept under the rug. Forbid that any power or privilege would be allowed to twist or distort or conceal the truth, even if the truth brings the privileged, the rich, the powerful, or the poor, from the darkness of wrong into the light of right.
For the haters and the bitter and the hostile and the slanderers ... we pray that they will see “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4). We pray that the light will banish darkness from their souls — the darkness of arrogance and racism and selfishness. We pray for broken hearts, because “a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17).
We pray that our city will see miracles of reconciliation and lasting harmony, rooted in truth and in the paths of righteousness. We pray for peace — the fullest enjoyment of shalom, flowing down from the God of peace, and bought at an infinite price for the brokenhearted followers of the Prince of Peace.
And as the scourge of COVID-19 has now killed 100,000 people in our nation, and still kills 20 people a day in our state — most of them in our city — and as the virus wreaks havoc with our economy, and riots send lifetimes of labor up in smoke, and the fabric of our common life is torn, we pray that the compounding of sorrows will not compound our sins, but send us desperate and running to the risen Savior, our only hope, Jesus Christ.
O Jesus, for this you died! That you might reconcile hopeless, hostile people to God and to each other. You have done it for millions by grace through faith. Do it, Lord Jesus, in Minneapolis, we pray. Amen.