King of Justice, Great God of Mercy:
Ours is a time of great distress, pain and outrage. We are burdened with grief, shocked by behaviors in the public square, and unsettled by the events of recent days. Hear us we pray, for the good of your people – and not for our sake only, but for the mercy and justice of our Savior to be made known throughout the earth.
We are an arrogant, prideful and haughty people. We presume to know the secret thoughts and intentions of others, and then we place them in our own inner court room and judge them for ourselves. Help us to see that if we are to judge anyone, then we must first put ourselves on our own bench. We trust that if we submit ourselves to you, you will humble us, and lead us in the way that is right (Psalm 25:9). You are mighty, you raise up leaders and tear them down again (Daniel 2:21). Who are we to assume the power of a throne?
You are a God of truth (Numbers 23:19), and you want your people to speak the truth in all things (James 3:1-12). Help us to be able to discern the truth, that we might act mercifully and justly toward others. Lead those in the public square, and in courts across this nation, to rightly seek the truth in all things. Protect the name and reputation of the innocent; punish those who have done wrong.
You lead us in a just way (Isaiah 30:18), and task us with fighting for justice in this world (Hosea 12:6, Amos 5:24). As news of trauma and abuse fill the headlines, our hearts break for all those who are reliving past wounds and hurts. Shame is a powerful feeling, for it tells us that we are flawed, broken, unworthy of acceptance, and that we don’t belong. Yet you are a God who seeks the broken and ashamed (Mark 2:17, John 4:1-45) , cleanses them from all sin (Zechariah 3:3-5, 1 John 1:7), makes them new (2 Corinthians 5:17), and gives us a new family in which to belong (Ephesians 2:19-22, 1 John 3:1-2).
We lament that we have not stood up for victims of abuse and oppression as you would have us do (Proverbs 22:22-23, Psalm 82:3-4, Jeremiah 7:5-7, Malachi 3:5, Matthew 5:7). Forgive us for our apathy and sin. We pray that you would minister your comfort to all those who are wounded, and that they might find refuge in our Savior. Teach us to be ministers of comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-7) to all those who suffer in this way.
We pray also that you might raise up men and women to bring about cultural and judicial reform in our country and around the world. Help us to better care for the abused, the weak, those who are in great fear of coming forward. We know that you are angered and displeased when there is no justice in the public square (Isaiah 59:14-15), how great must be your anger when the oppressor goes unpunished (Psalm 12:5, 146:7-9, Jeremiah 21:12)!
May you reform your church also to be a place of trust, confidence, mercy and care; that those who have been abused and traumatized might find refuge in the arms and hands of your people.
Finally, during these times of great outrage and distress, teach your people to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9, James 3:17-18). Help us to look past our political ties and opinions, our ideologies, and our idols, to be agents of your peace, justice and mercy. What a privilege it is to know that through the work of your Son, you have already accomplished peace for your people (Ephesians 2:14, Colossians 1:20-22, 3:15, 1 Thessalonians 5:13), and we now have been tasked with extending your peace to others (John 20:21, 2 Corinthians 13:11, Ephesians 4:3).
Thank you Lord for the work of your Son, who pleads our case now before your throne (Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25), and who will one day come again to execute perfect justice and mercy in this world (Matthew 25:31-46, 2 Timothy 4:1, Revelation 16:5-7).
Hear us, we pray, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.