Colossians 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
I went to a peaceful protest Sunday evening. I went with my 16-year-old daughter. In my mind I was thinking it would be a rally for peace and against racism. So, we went. Upon our arrival we saw the chief of our local police department had shown up to keep the peace. We also shook hands with one of our city councilmen – not sure if he was there to support or just observe.
I quickly realized that it was not what I had thought. There was a very small group of people at a busy intersection holding up signs with the names of black men and women who have been killed by the police in the last several years. I wanted to leave, but it was exactly what my daughter had thought it would be. I support my daughter, so I stepped to the background and stood next to the police chief and let her peacefully stand up for what she believed. She spent forty-five minutes holding a George Floyd sign. There was no trouble. Of course, there had to be one guy with an anti-police sign standing next to my daughter. So I suggested she stand down at the other end of the line.
A few drivers voiced their disagreement, but many showed their support with their horns. It turned out to be a group of people peacefully standing up and speaking out for what they believe. It is one of the most sacred rights we have in this country. I think that is what is at the heart of the protests going on today. There is racism in this country and people are rallying against it. Unfortunately, like our one guy, there will always be opportunistic troublemakers who show up – that’s where the violence comes from.
Later that same evening, in my position as chaplain for the local fire department, I responded to an accident involving three young people; one of them had been killed, the others had very minor injuries. I stood with the two survivors for over an hour as the scene was processed. I spoke with them about the accident, making small talk with long gaps of silence in between. I hoped to help them process their trauma, but I couldn’t help but feel effectively useless. The only difference I seemed to make was when I told them I would be praying for them.
I think the church should be a much bigger part of the movement against racial injustice. I think we should organize our own rallies of prayer for peace. Though, like standing in silence with two trauma victims, it can seem as if we are doing almost nothing – it’s just too little, too late.
Our feelings can deceive us, and Satan encourages that deception. Prayer is the most influential action the church can take. I’ve seen the slogan, “Silence is violence”; that doesn’t apply to prayer. It may be quiet – but it is heard by a mighty God who has the power to change the hearts of people bringing peace and revival to our nation.
If there is going to be any lasting change in our country, it will have to start with the church, and it will have to come from joining together in prayer and fasting.
However, it cannot stop there. We must speak out against injustice. We must speak out with the voice of our Savior, Jesus. We must speak with His love and His grace.
The truest statement I have heard in the midst of this tragic time of civil unrest has come from one of my heroes, Tony Dungy. He said it better than I ever could, “We have to be willing to speak the truth in love, but we have to recognize that we are not fighting against other people. We are fighting against Satan and his kingdom of spiritual darkness.”
We must know our enemy and we must battle him with Spirit-led prayer. We cannot be yet another voice feeding the chaos. We have to stand on our knees.
James 5:16 …The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.