(Editor’s Note: Our regular contributor Rich Villodas offered the prayer of lament below in front of the Queens Criminal Courthouse in New York City this past Saturday, prior to a two-mile protest march. We are grateful that he has allowed us to share this prayer with the Missio Alliance community. May we continue as the church to lean into a posture of prayer, lament, and repentance during these troubling times.)
To lament is to cry out to God, naming the pain and injustice in our world, and in so doing, receiving God’s strength to work for peace.
How long, O Lord? Will you forget us forever?
How long will you hide your face from us?
How long must we wrestle with our thoughts and day after day, have sorrow in our hearts?
How long, O Lord, will injustice fill this nation?
How long, O Lord, will the poor and powerless be treated as less than human?
How long, O Lord, will Black and Brown people have to carry the burden of living a society that drowns out our cries?
Lord, from the founding of this country, to the present day, we grieve that racism has been America’s enduring sin—that racism has been a strategy of evil powers and principalities.
Lord, we grieve, that the the protests and policy changes of the past have not eradicated the deep-stain of racial injustice.
Lord, we confess our anger, our deep sadness, our bewilderment, and our collective sense of weakness to see this world healed through our own strength.
Lord, we lament the way the church has often been complicit in racist behavior.
We lament the ways that the church has often turned its head, focusing on souls, to the exclusion of Black and Brown bodies.
Lord, we lament, that although we identify with the name of Jesus, we often don’t live like Jesus.
We lament that Ahmaud Arbery couldn’t go for a jog without putting his life in great danger.
We lament that Breonna Taylor couldn’t sleep peacefully in her own home, but was found to be unjustly killed in the middle of the night.
We lament that George Floyd would be callously killed by someone who was sworn to protect.
We lament that it takes millions of people to raise our voices to hold people accountable for wrongdoing and abuse of power.
Lord, we lament, that the powers of our society have often seen Black life as disposable.
So, God of justice, we call on your name.
God of righteousness, hear the words that signal our pain.
God of the oppressed, show yourself strong.
God of healing, make right everything that’s wrong.
Lord, we grieve that in this society, not everyone can breathe.
We grieve that Black men and women too often can’t breathe.
We grieve that Brown men and women too often can’t breathe.
We grieve that poor men and women too can’t breathe.
But Lord, in your kingdom, we ALL can breathe.
In your kingdom, the breath of life is for everyone.
In your kingdom, you breathe life and we come alive.
So, Lord, breathe on us.
Breathe on this nation.
Breathe on the lawmakers.
Breathe on the church.
Lord Jesus, your kingdom is good news for a world caught in racial injustice and hostility.
We ask that you would give us grace for the deep challenges facing our country.
And in the power of the Holy Spirit, empower us to see your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.
In Jesus’s name. Amen.