My heart is heavy. For over two weeks, I’ve tried to write on the confusing murder of Jordan Davis, a black Florida teen shot for playing his music too loud. I read “Worthy“ by Austin Channing Brown then tried to write my own lament for the devaluation of black boys’ lives sanctioned by archaic laws. Unfortunately, those cries for deliverance rise too easily from my spirit. I am the daughter of a black Senior, the sister of a black twenty-something, the mama of two black boys, and the future pastor of black teens who look too much like Jordan Davis and Trayvon Martin. Fear of this happening to someone I know surrounds me.
I wanted to write my thoughts, but my lamentations were too raw, too hoarse, entirely too much for my blog, so I pulled into myself and cried for days over Jordan, Trayvon, Jonathan Farrell, and Renisha McBride. The more I cried, the more aware I was of the pain-stricken words patiently waiting for their moment.
Shortly after, I watched, Javon Johnson’s slam poetry about raising black boys in America, “Cuz He’s Black” for the eleventy billionth time, and I wanted to write y’all a poem of raising a black boy. I wanted to share how I’m constantly questioning my tween’s safety, worrying about preserving his innocence in this violent world, and my fears of depositing anxiety in his little heart when I talk about the very real obstacles he’ll face as a young black man. Even with a black president, even here in bleeding heart liberal Massachusetts, even within in the Christian community, even with his bi-racial heritage, my son has a long road ahead of him. By having a black mama, he’s inherited the yoke of chattel slavery that grips the African-American community even though our hands are no longer shackle-bound.
Honestly, I’m so sick and tired of living with this fear. I’m acutely aware of its presence. Her wings stretch over me blocking the light of hope. Her claws grip my heart crushing life and infecting my blood stream with despair. Cries for deliverance rose up again and I pulled back from their ferocious need to be spoken, written, released.
I remembered an article shared with me by my good friend, Courtney titled, “Black History Month Isn’t Making Life Better for Black Americans”. I couldn’t help but agree with Theodore R. Brown—why spend an entire month celebrating our past when our future looks so bleak?
Those keening cries of sorrow, fear, need, and for comfort were too much so, I wrote this Facebook message.
The next day, I sat down to write a prayer for all those affected by the racial tension caused by the “Stand Your Ground” laws in states like Florida. I quieted my heart to reach towards God’s and sensed this one direction, “call My people to pray”.
When I exhaled the waiting words, the broken lamentations to God, he breathed new hope into my heart. I know why those words waited; they were powerful words of prayer. They wanted to be my chosen weapon in this waging war charged by race and ignorance. We wrestle not against flesh and blood but powers and principalities in heavenly places. We wield not guns in shaky, terrified hands but the doubled-edged Sword the Spirit.
We’re going stand our ground…in prayer.
For the rest of the week, I’ve invited a few of my blogging friends to submit prayers as guest posts. We’re observing the rest of Black History Month, not with flowery praises of African-American heroes of the past, angry indictments of racism, or arguments of philosophy, but with sincere prayers to our good Abba who hears the cries of his children. We’re going to rise up like the people of the Cross that we claim to be. The cross is the great equalizer where all sinners, brown, black and white can find reconciliation both to God and then to one another. Each day will have two prayers one from a black woman and one from a white. We want to model praying together, in unity, for reconciliation. This is our jam Kingdom people, let’s sing it loud and in harmony!
For the rest of the week, we’re taking our sorrow to the foot of the cross and asking Jesus to speak resurrection power into these dark days. Let these precious lives be redeemed, Lord through our prayers and promises to never forget.
Today, I’m honored to start the series with my good friend, Jessica Kelley.
She is a wise and beautiful writer, but more importantly, she is a sweet and dear friend to me. She loves Jesus and she reveals him to me in poignant ways. I hope you find hopeful direction in her prayer.
On my face, I come.
I lay at your feet, my prayers offered in body-rocking sobs.
I lay broken by evil.
Broken by violence.
Broken by death.
Broken by birthday candles that will never meet breath. By graduation celebrations with empty chairs. By marriage vows
never to be exchanged. By grandchildren never to be celebrated. By parents who will die without their child at their side.
I lay before you, broken.
Rising to my knees, I come.
I come in kneeled repentance, hands clasped, eyes beginning to open. I see systems of oppression. Systems that have
benefited me. I see mothers on the losing end of these systems who are mourning. I’ve never seen them quite so clearly.
I’ve never heard their cries so loudly. I come in repentance.
I come pleading for comfort. When my son laughed the sun burned brighter. When my son died, that bright star fell,
leaving bitter darkness and unspeakable cold. I plead comfort for Jordan Davis’ mother, Lucia. I plead comfort for
Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina. I come pleading for the families and friends of these precious boys. I come pleading
for every soul wounded by every trauma and every death. I come pleading for comfort.
I come praying for perspective. Open my eyes wider, Abba. Open the eyes around me. Take us all back to our first
breaths, to the moments our mothers birthed us. We were cast into the world in shells unchosen. Every color stunning in your sight, every hue reflecting you. Sear into our awareness that beneath our differences run identical currents of love, playfulness, ache, trepidation, and hope. I come praying for perspective.
Climbing to my feet, I come.
I receive your outstretched hand, Abba, and rise to obey. I rise to use the voice you’ve given me. Though it quivers, I use it to speak your hope.
I speak your supernatural peace over the Martin family, the Davis family, and every aching soul.
I speak freedom from the fear that permeates humanity. I speak your transforming love over hard hearts and closed minds. I speak the power of your restoration into racial divides.
I speak light into darkness. I speak life over death.
I rise, Abba, and I speak Jesus.
Jessica Kelley has a BS in Psychology from Virginia Tech and a MS in Counseling and Human Development from Radford University. Since the tragic loss of her 4-year-old son, Henry, she has been writing and speaking about God’s role in suffering. Jessica processes her faith-journey at JessicaKelley.com and is also active on Twitter and Facebook.
COMMENT POLICY THIS WEEK:
Ok. Y’all know I’m all for healthy dialogue, but here’s the deal: I’m a Third Way Woman, so Ima be honey badger mama protective with the comments in this series. Please save your push back on racism or gun laws for another time. You can email me privately at Osheta at gmail dot com, if you just need to process this issue. I’ll try to engage you, but this is not the space for that. So many of my white blogger friends are terrified to share these prayers. Race is one of those topics we forget ourselves and get all types of nasty with each other. Not here. Not on my watch! We’d love it if you’d offer an “AMEN” or if you’re so inclined, write your own prayer. Jess or I will comment, “Amen” to let you know that we’ve got your back. But, seriously y’all, let’s not act a fool this week. ‘k?
Standing for Shalom,
41 thoughts on “Standing Our Ground…In Prayer”
Pingback: Standing Our Ground in Prayer | coffeesnob318
The sadness from these tragedies is overwhelming. The scourge of racism and hate is an evil plague as unnatural as the cancer that took our precious grandson Henry. My heart
aches for the families.
Give all of us voice to speak up, stand up, rise up. Especially now for our black boys, men, brothers, fathers, friends. What we do to them reflects on us all. Help us better reflect Your glorious image with love, hope, compassion, value. To all, by all, through You.
Lord, hear our prayers. See our tears. Come, Lord Jesus, and sit beside us in this unspeakable grief. Place your hands upon our heads and speak comfort and hope to our hearts. As we join hands, create through us a better future for all; a future without fear, without oppression, without prejudice. Lord. Hear our prayers. May it be so.
Joining you in this prayer. Thank you for hosting this series, Osheta.
I’m so glad you’ve joined us in prayer, Leigh!
Beautiful Osheta. Beautiful in the face of ugly.
I pray that your boys will be as safe as my girls. I pray that people blinded by prejudice will be blinded to racism. I pray for the peace of our city, the peace of our neighborhoods, the peace of our communities.
Thanks for baring your hurt to us.
Thank you, Stephen! Amen and amen!
my heart aches and is yet so filled with hope, at these prayers of the people rising. He hears, and things will change. I know they will. on earth as it is in Heaven.
honoured to be part of this.
mine too, rachel! mine too!
Amen! And I lift up Corey Stingley, a young black man in my community, one among so many, who died, because some citizens felt his life worth less than the bottle of booze he tried stealing. And I ask forgiveness for the many times I have not been outraged at these deaths, but have excused them because “he shouldn’t have been doing that.” O God help me and us. Thank you Osheta….Peace.
Oh, Mark. Thank you for sharing and calling our Corey’s name before our God. I join you in praying for his family and your community. Let there be peace and comfort there, Lord. Amen.
Yes, amen, Mark!
Amen and amen. Osheta, again I say thank you for calling us to the Throne.
May His Peace invade our hearts and ease our pain.
Amen! I’m so thankful for your voice, Chelle. Your prayer coming up tomorrow is gorgeous. I’m looking forward to posting it.
Thank you, Chelle. And yes, amen, “may His peace invade our hearts and ease our pain.”
Amen, thank you for calling us to prayer. May the whole body of Christ learn to weep with those who weep. I will join in prayer with you.
Thank you Jessica for this prayer. And thank you Osheta for giving her the space to share it. Blessings on both you ladies. I know this will touch so many.
Blessings on you too, Alyssa! Thank you for joining us 🙂
Osheta (and Jessica), I am moved and convicted by your openness to the spirit and your conviction in prayer. All too often I want to jump in to figure out what I can do long before I go before The Lord. Thank you for being so honest and vulnerable and calling us into the most powerful action we can partake in, in a situation that is heartbreaking and if I am honest, feels completely overwhelming. I stand with you as I confidently beg The Lord for racial reconciliation.
Standing our ground in prayer.
This right here, your approach to the travesty, is the third way sweet sister.
Love you, love your heart.
Standing with you in prayer.
Welcome and thank you, Tina!
Amen and amen. Standing with you …
Amen. Thank you for this series and the call to prayer, Osheta. Our God can do mighty things.
Amen! Yes he can!
I stand guilty and convicted of indifference but God is working.
Thank you for your vulnerability. I’m praying for you.
Osheta! This is brilliant. And beautiful. And exactly, exactly what we need so desperately. Thank you for making this happen in your wonderful space. And Jessica? Your words are stunning. I humbly bow with you and cry, “Mercy, Lord!”
Thank you, Diane! Yes, Lord mercy and grace, wisdom and courage, let us reflect your love for all people and your justice.
Thank you, it was my honor to share and I’m blessed to join with you in prayer.
Amen and amen. This white girl raising her white babies with her white husband wants desperately for us to see differences as an expression of the greatness and goodness of God, and not a reason to be afraid. Perfect love casts out fear. Jesus give us that perfect love.
Amen, I’m so glad you’re here Melissa! Thank you! Yes, Jesus give us that perfect love.
OH Lord, let your kingdom come here on earth, as it is in heaven.
Pingback: Breakfast Sandwiches and Banner’s of Love: What I am into February 2014 | Accidental Devotional
Embrace all the young men who have been lost in the heat of fear, anger and disdain. Hold those children close to you along with those who lament in sorrow. Cause all those who have elected an attitude of superiority to feel the impact of shame and regret. Lord. Taking a life and living with the act is not easy. Help us remember that violence has two victims: the killed and the killer. You created all people, Lord. You told Cain to master his anger. Help us all to master ours. In Your Name, I petition you, Amen