June 18, 2015 / Missio Alliance

Our Prayers of Lament for Mass Shootings

(image credit)

This post was originally written after the Charleston shooting. Tragically, it continues to remain relevant.

In the wake of the tragedy so many tragedies, we offer these prayers of lament…

(check back as more are added throughout the day)

How long, Lord, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted.

Habakkuk 1:2-4

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit. 

Psalm 34:18 

Lord, we come to you today with hearts that are heavy and confused. Thank you for your promise that you are near to the broken-hearted. Be near to us and to the families and friends who grieve the loss of nine of our brothers and sisters in Christ at the Emanuel AME Church.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Almighty God, We are grateful for the life and witness of the nine people who were killed during a time of prayer with You. We echo the prayer of the psalmist – “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” (Psalm 116:15) May their lives of prayer and obedience to you be an example and encouragement to us.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Jesus, Lamb of God, in this time of grief and confusion, we affirm that you are the Alpha and Omega, who is, and who was, and who is to come. In the midst of our pain, we choose to trust you in all things.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Almighty God, you have asked us to pray for our enemies, and so we also pray for your grace to cause transformation in the life of the shooter.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Jesus, form us into people who live for your Kingdom now – a kingdom of peace, healing, forgiveness, and redemption. May your kingdom come and your will be done in Charleston and beyond. Come, Holy Savior, and heal all that is broken in our lives and in our streets.Holy Spirit, give us the grace to be agents of reconciliation and transformation in our community as we witness to your immeasurable power and love.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Almighty God, give us the gift of your Holy Spirit to move our hearts and the hearts of the people of our country to break down the dividing walls between people of different races and cultures. May our barriers crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease. Bring healing to our country so that we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, our Mediator and Advocate. Amen.

– Prayers from Saint Peter’s Church, Mt. Pleasant, SC

It’s messy. Life in the neighbourhood.
People let you down.
They talk big but fall through.
They hurt.
They hold grudges, get angry, pout, procrastinate
Get depressed, addicted, discouraged, sick.
They die. And then what?
Grieving families. No explanations.
We sit.
We listen.
Can we continue to trust?
To listen?
To know that life has meaning and you are God.
The God who loves.
The God who has been in the mess. Who hovers over it right from the beginning. And in the desert. The darkness. The despair and doubt.
In messy gardens, alleys, homes, hearts.
You are with us. Faithful and true. Not as a doctrine or a decree. As a person.
Be real to our neighbours. Be real to us. We love You.
We long for Your Kingdom come.
We know Your Kingdom has come…near. On earth as it is in heaven.

– A prayer from Karen Wilk, Edmonton, Alberta

LORD, my heart is deeply grieved over this tragedy which took place within a historic institution that serves as a refuge and force of reconciliation and justice. Guide us Jehovah as we continue to pilgrim through a land of violence, division, and captivity to the matrix of race. May the Church rise in this tragic moment as a movement of transformation.

– A prayer from Efrem Smith, Bay Area, California

“White Gunman Kills 9 Inside Black Church”

Lament I

God, what is wrong with us

What is wrong with us…

How does black and white lead to red?

Red on the rock of an ancient church,

Red on the body of a beloved pastor,

Red on old and young,

Woman and man,

Blood on the floor and on our hearts and hands.

God, what is wrong with us

What is wrong with us?

Our sin too.

Red on the wood of a cross,

Red on the body of our Lord,

Red poured out for us,

Blood on the cross and on our hearts and hands.

We kneel on the rock and call your name.

Come out of the tomb for us this dark day.

Still the insanity of our hearts and hands.

Holy Spirit pour out on us.

Pour out on us.

We circle together in prayer

Around this ancient church

Around our brothers and sisters.

Come, Lord Jesus, come.

Heal us and call us.

Heal our hearts

Call us to stand as black and white

That red should flow no more.

“Mother Emmanuel”  

Lament II 

Mother Emmanuel

Mother God with Us

Mothers covering babies

Mothers leaving orphans

Mothers of Mothers bleeding out

Mothers sons’ gone from human embrace

Mother God with Us

Who sees and knows

Who loves and watches

Clutch us in your pinions

Cover us with your wings

Draw us to the safety of your breast

We cannot breath

This is too awful for us

We are disgusted, ashamed

Cover us with your wings

Draw us to the warmth of your breast

We hide. We rest.

We hope for a humbled new day.

– Prayers of lament from Mary Kate Morse