Our church held a prayer service last Sunday at 10:00, in between worship services, for our nation in the wake of Dallas, and the shootings last week of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. We invited members of law enforcement to join us.
During the service, I offered the following prayer:
Almighty God, avenger of innocent lives cut down in senseless acts of violence; our righteous judge who condemns evil; the lover of our world who sent his Son into it to defeat evil, suffering, and death—and to save us from the wages of our own sin: We pray for the families and loved ones of Alton Sterling… and Philando Castile… We pray for the families and loved ones of Dallas police officers Brent Thompson… Lorne Ahrens… Patrick Zamarripa… Michael J. Smith… and Michael Krol… We pray for the protection of men and women in uniform throughout our country whom we ask to do the most difficult job of all: to lay down their very lives, if necessary, in order to protect and defend innocent lives. We are immensely grateful to you for the gift of their service. We grieve that five of them were asked to give the last full measure of their devotion to us last Thursday night in Dallas.
In their sacrifice we see, as through a dim mirror, the sacrifice of your Son Jesus for us, on the cross. In their sacrifice, we see Christ-like love lived out. Their example inspires us. Their deaths horrify us.
We pray that if there are others right now in our country who are contemplating murder—whose souls are so warped that they imagine that taking innocent life somehow avenges innocent life—that you would please stop them from inflicting harm!
In spite of the constant dangers that public safety personnel face as they go about their good work, we pray that you would continue to call people to this work. Give them courage. Give them strength. Give them wisdom. Protect them. Enable them to perform their duties with sound judgment.
Enable all of us Americans to work as peacemakers in this world—to work for a more just and peaceful world—so that the work of police, law enforcement, and public safety personal will become safer.
Melt our hearts with your love and the love of your Son Jesus. Root out within our own hearts everything that stands in opposition to the way of Christ our Lord. Empower us to follow our Lord’s courageous example of love at all times and in all places.
We pray this in the name of your Son Jesus, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever. Amen.