Prayer Guide for Day of Lament, Prayer, and Fasting (06/08)

If you are taking part in the day of prayer, lament, and fasting for the situation in our country, the following is a suggested prayer guide to help direct you. Thank you for your participation!

Please begin by reading Psalm 12, a psalm of lament.

  • Pray for our leaders (1 Tim. 2:1-2). Pray that God would give them wisdom and humility in leading our country, our states, and our local communities (Prov. 8:15). Pray for our president, our members of Congress, our Supreme Court, our governor, and all the others we have elected to make decisions for this country. Pray that they would seek to honor God in right and equal administration of justice for all (Ps. 82).
  • Pray for those who have been the victims of the unjust misuse of power and authority (Prov. 17:15; 6:16-19). Pray for the families of those who have died at the hands of murderers in high places. Pray that the Lord would deliver those who are suffering from injustice in any form (Ps. 68:5-6). Pray that the Lord would reveal to you ways in which you can be of service to those who are suffering injustice.
  • Pray for those who are the victims of racism (Gen. 1:27). Pray also for the repentance of those who hate others because of the color of their skin, their nationality, or any other foolish excuse for hatred. Pray especially for those who profess to be Christians and yet harbor racist or xenophobic prejudices (Gal. 3:27-29). Pray that believers would love each other (John 13:34) and that we would honor God by loving our neighbor as ourselves (Matt. 22:34-40; Luke 10:25-37).
  • Examine your own hearts and confess to the Lord any ungodly prejudices you might have, seeking to turn from your sin and by the power of the Holy Spirit put to death the deeds and attitudes of your sinful nature (Rom. 8:13). Know that for those who confess their sins, God is faithful and just to forgive their sins and to cleanse from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9).
  • Pray for those who are looting and rioting. Pray that justice would be done in their situation as well, and that they would repent (Rom. 13:3-4). Pray for the business owners who are suffering through the sinful actions of these looters. Pray also that the actions of the rioters would not mute the message of those who are peacefully seeking change.
  • Pray for the police. Many police officers are just as sickened by the events in Minneapolis and elsewhere as the protestors are. Pray that God would protect and strengthen those officers who are truly seeking the protection and welfare of their neighbor; pray that they would not be unjustly villainized.
  • Pray that the protests do not lead to an upsurge in cases of the coronavirus; pray for the safety of both the protestors and the police and National Guard who are congregating in large numbers.
  • Pray that Americans will work together, despite political differences, for the good of all.

 

Parents and grandparents, this would also be an excellent time, before or after prayer, to talk to your children and grandchildren about the issues that are facing our country. Be open to their questions and help them to understand why Christians reject the sin of racism. Teach them that all human beings are made in God’s image (Gen. 1:27) and are descended from the same first parents. Teach them that they are to treat everyone with dignity, regardless of color or nationality, because all human beings are God’s image-bearers. Teach them also that those who belong to Christ Jesus, who are united to Him through faith, are one people, though we come from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, and that this is God’s good and beautiful purpose and for His glory (Rev. 7:9-10).

See also https://epc.org/news/june8lamentfastingprayer/

A Word Against Injustice

By this point, most who would be reading this have seen the horrific video, or at least heard the horrific news, of the death of George Floyd, murdered by a Minneapolis policeman. Thankfully, that former policeman is now in custody, and has been rightly charged with murder. But, that is not the end of it.

And which of us, seeking to be empathetic to other human beings made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26), does not understand why this can’t be the end of it? Over the past several decades we have seen the unjust death of numerous black men and women; unjust, because they never saw the courtroom, their right to a trial by jury was taken from them by the actions of a police officer who had taken upon himself the office of executioner. Try to imagine being a black man or woman after having seen pictures and videos of other people of color being murdered by police; as a white man, I can’t imagine fully the fear that they must have of the police, those who are meant to be the servants of peace and order. It’s one thing to be afraid of the authorities when we have done something wrong; indeed, the wrongdoer should fear the authorities! (Rom. 13:4). But there are many in our country today who have not broken the law, have no intention of breaking the law, live their lives as outstanding citizens and contributors to the good of the community, who, when they see the blue and red lights, are nevertheless afraid.

Perhaps you might retort that there are plenty of police officers who would never think of committing such heinous crimes as what we have seen replayed over and over again for the past several years. And you would be absolutely correct! I am thankful for those wonderful officers who have dedicated their lives to the peace and protection of their communities (sometimes even sacrificing their lives for those communities). But, the recognition remains that even if there is only a rotten number from among the whole, it is enough to give pause, to inspire fear of injustice, and it is certainly enough to merit peaceful protest for the betterment of our country.

Is it fair that law enforcement as a whole should be labeled as racist? No. Is it fair that people of color should live in fear of being unjustly targeted by law enforcement? No. Are there changes that need to be made in this country concerning the relationship between law enforcement (among other aspects of our society) and minorities? Yes. And that is why peaceful protest is called for. Indeed, that is why peaceful protest is a right given to every American citizen, regardless of color, religion, or social standing.

Injustice is not a political issue; injustice is a moral issue. The Republican who seeks to hide behind his supposed “conservatism” while espousing the idea that the problem is not really a problem fuels the fires of injustice. The Democrat who hides behind his “liberalism” in support of the violent riots, suggesting that the unjust destruction of the property of others is justified, likewise gives fuel to the fires of injustice. How much injustice has been done in this country under the hellish monikers of “Republican” and “Democrat” (or any other political party that bids one check their conscience at the door)! It is enough to condemn this nation a million times over!

The Scriptures bid us, rather, to exercise our consciences according to the revealed will of God! “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” (Rom. 12:9). “O you who love the LORD, hate evil!” (Ps. 97:10). God is just! And, as He is the Source of all that is good, we must recognize that injustice – no matter where we find it – is evil, and it is hypocritical to claim that one loves God and neighbor when one does not hate the evil of injustice.

A wise mother once told her kingly son: “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Prov. 31:8-9). Right now, our nation is boiling over because the rights of the poor and needy have not been defended, because those who were meant to be representatives of law and order have not judged righteously (that is, they have not judged with justice), and because the rights of the weak and destitute have often not found an authoritative voice to speak for the voiceless in the halls of our government, and that at every level.

This is why peaceful protest is necessary. And this is why I stand with those who are peacefully protesting. I also stand with those police officers who work hard every day defending law-abiding citizens and enforcing the law and who have sadly been lumped in with the wrongdoers. I believe that every part of our justice system needs to be evaluated so that equal justice is indeed given to all citizens of this nation. I believe that justice in our government honors God, and as a voting citizen in a republic, I believe that as far as I am lawfully able, I should see that my country’s government does not dishonor God through injustice.

God alone is Lord of the conscience; I cannot and would not seek to persuade anyone to act against one’s conscience. But, inasmuch as my conscience has been informed by the teachings of the whole of Scripture, I believe that if I truly love God, if I truly love my neighbor made in His image, I must hate injustice! And, if through lawful means I might speak on behalf of the voiceless, it is my duty to do so. I am not an adherent of the “social gospel”; I do not believe we can legislate or revolutionize man to godly perfection. From first to last, the issue at hand is sin, make no mistake, and that is only dealt with truly by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on behalf of sinners and the regenerating and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. At the same time, just because I believe that the time is coming when perfect justice will be done, the Day when Christ brings His kingdom at the great consummation, it does not mean that I, or any who look forward to His coming, should be unconcerned about social ills in the here and now. Quite the opposite! Because Christ is coming back and bringing complete and perfect justice to this world, let us seek always to do justly and be advocates of just doing, or else we ourselves will be condemned on that Day with those who have unrepentantly practiced injustice.


 

On Monday, 8 June 2020, our church, along with many other churches in the EPC, will be recognizing a day of lament, prayer, and fasting, seeking God’s help in the midst of this crisis. A guide for prayer will follow in the coming days. Please consider joining us as we lift our country, our leaders, our police, and those who have experienced injustice up to our gracious God and King in prayer! The Lord bless and keep you, beloved!

Order of Service 05/31/20

Call to Worship     Luke 1:46-55

After this, whoever is leading worship (regularly the father or grandfather of the family) should pray for himself and his family as they join together to worship the Lord, that their attention would be captivated by the glory of God, and that they would rejoice together in the Lord.

The Apostle’s Creed     recite together the essential tenets of our faith

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day He rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Hymn     “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNq0WtMSmIY

Confession of Sin

As is our custom, begin with a few moments of silent, personal confession, and then join together in our corporate confession:

Almighty, everlasting God and Father, we acknowledge and confess that we indeed were conceived and born in sin and, therefore, inclined to all evil and slow to all good; that we unceasingly transgress Your holy commandments, and corrupt ourselves more and more. But we are sorry for this and desire Your grace and help. Therefore, have mercy upon us, most gracious and merciful God and Father, through Your Son our Lord Jesus Christ. Grant to us and increase in us Your Holy Spirit, so that we may recognize our sin and unrighteousness from the depth of our heart, feel true contrition and grief for them, die to them completely, and please You wholly in a new, godly life. Amen.

At the end of this confession it is appropriate for the person leading to read 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

The Gloria Patri     either spoken or sung

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Family or Personal Prayer

Please spend this time in prayer for one another, for the church; for our community, our county, our state, our nation, our world; pray for our leaders; pray for all those who are being impacted by this crisis, and for all those who have contracted the virus or have lost someone who has; pray through the prayer requests that are shared via our OneCall system; pray freely in the Spirit and lay your anxieties and concerns at the feet of our gracious Lord in full confidence that you are heard through Jesus Christ our Mediator.

The Lord’s Prayer     to be prayed together

Scripture    1 Samuel 2:1-11

Sermon     https://soundcloud.com/user-374933433/1-samuel-21-11

Hymn     “O Worship the King”   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0a1Pq9avbg

Closing Prayer

It is appropriate at this point for the father to bless his family, the husband to bless his wife, and all to bless each other. Afterward, as it is the Lord’s Day, I recommend that you spend the rest of the day in the Word, in prayer, worship, and rest. God bless you all!