It may strike some as odd or even inappropriate for me (a white male) to write a prayer for those who have been the victim of racism. I have not personally experienced the pain. But I have personally witnessed this pain carried by people I love dearly. My ethnically Puerto Rican wife has many times experienced sideways glances and derogatory or offensive comments, both to her directly and disguised under the breath. Racist comments, actions, and attitudes aren’t normally directed toward me, but they directly impact my half-Black niece and nephew. Intercession is valuable not merely because others need our prayers, but because it also increases our heart for those whose needs are different from our own. It is an act of selflessness and a reminder that prayer’s purpose is often more about what God wants to do in us than expressing what we want God to do for us.
Heavenly Father and Judge of all the earth, we are angered at the brokenness of our world and the injustices done in it. In our feelings of anger, pain, fear, and helplessness, help us to put our trust in you. You are not a distant and disconnected God, but the God who sees us and hears our cries. My heart breaks with and for my brokenhearted brothers and sisters in Christ who have experienced the pain of racial stereotyping, profiling, prejudice, hostility, insults, sideways looks, racial slurs, or physical violence. I ask that in your lovingkindness you would bind us up together (Is. 61:1). I thank you that you are a stronghold for the oppressed in times of trouble. You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. You are the one who avenges blood, and you are mindful of us. You do not forget the cry of the afflicted (Ps. 9:7-12).
God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction (2 Cor. 1:3-7), I thank you that in the person of Christ, you have entered the brokenness of our world. I thank you, Father, for sending Jesus as a helpless baby to be born in a community of historically oppressed people, to suffer unjustly at the hands of oppressive authorities for our sake. I thank you that Jesus is a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, that he knows what it is like to be despised and rejected by men (Is. 53:3). Your Son uniquely understands the pain of those who have endured both verbal insults and physical assaults. Surely, he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows (Is. 53:4).
As one pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities, who brings us peace and heals us by his wounds (53:5), though himself completely innocent of sin (2 Cor. 5:21), Jesus knows the searing pain of suffering unjustly. He suffered the penalty of our sins on the cross (Is. 53:7). Having all power and authority to call thousands of angels to his aide, Jesus interceded for the very ones who put him to death (Luke 23:34). Grant that by the power of your indwelling Spirit all your beloved children may have the same heart toward those who unjustly cause us pain and sorrow. In our pain, guard us against the temptation to hurt those who have hurt us, yet give us courage to speak out against injustice and stand up for the oppressed. Help us to overcome evil with good, and remind us that vengeance belongs to you alone, and that you will justly repay all evildoers (Rom. 12:14-21). Even now, Lord, we ask that you would break the teeth in the mouth of the wicked, rendering them powerless to harm us and others (Ps. 58:6).
Father, I praise you for making in Christ one living and reconciled people from every tribe, nation, tongue, and skin color. We were once dead in our sins and strangers to your grace, but you have called us by name and made us brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, a loving family united by our relationship to you, our Heavenly Father. Give us voice to sing praises to you who sits enthroned in Zion! Give us the courage to tell others of all you have done for us! May the world know we are Christ’s disciples by the love that we share for one another (John 13:35).
Father, hear our cries. Strengthen our hearts. Bind up our brokenness, and give us the grace to carry one another’s burdens well (Gal.6:2). Open my eyes to the pain of my brothers and sisters in Christ who have been wounded by the poison of racism. Give me, and all your people, the courage to stand up for what is right and good and true in the face of injustice. Free us from sin and sorrow and cause us to see and savor the beauty of Christ and his gospel. As we share Christ’s sufferings now, help us to remember the hope of sharing Christ’s glory when He returns to bring true justice and make all things new. Forgive us our sins, cleanse us of all unrighteousness, and have mercy on us according to your steadfast love. May we one day be able to comfort others with the comfort we receive from you. Amen.