Let Us Pray
Prayer from Don Oliver
Oh God, our creator, your Son, our Savior, suffered many, many disruptions during his times of prayer and meditation, most notably the cross. And yet, in our efforts to be like him, it’s been said that, “we can not be anything more than a rich fabric stitched together by your Grace.” We do believe that, wholeheartedly. Paul tells us in Romans 8, “…that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth nor any creation or creature, shall be able to separate us from your love…” As such, this is another stitch in the fabric of your amazing Grace. We thank you Lord.
It has been our special privilege to be counted among the many who serve you, but yet, we are troubled. That twenty (20) foot wide and 60 foot long temple veil, as thick as a man’s hand was somehow torn apart during your crucifixion, laying bare what had been a secret place for prayer and meditation. So, this prayer is not just about respecting any sense of divine privacy or quietude that you may have required to keep us focused and attentive to your grace. Rather, it is the contrary, your special presence has been unveiled and exposed to noise, lots of noise, and disruption.
Oh God, our creator, we are surrounded by noise, COVID-19, killing more than one hundred thousand people (100,000) in this country, more than 5.6 million cases confirmed and 353 thousand deaths confirmed around the world. We are left with narrow slivers of hope to somehow buffer the noise, so much noise, and more noise.
On the home front black lives are once again up for grabs: George Floyd kneed in the neck by a police officer in Minnesota. He loses his life, after crying out, ‘I can’t breath, I can’t breath,’ reminding us of the late Eric Garner in New York who sold cigarettes for a living.
Noise, and more noise, a 25 year old African American jogger, Ahmaud Arbery chased down by a retired and former unlicensed police officer and his son is murdered with a shotgun, and still there is more noise.
A barking dog, being choked by its owner, the white female owner calls the police to say this black man is threatening her – she does not say this the black man was speaking up for her dog, noise, noise, and it becomes ever more intense.
As horrific as these challenges have been, coming one after the other, the sheer volume of it all, the noise, makes it difficult for us to find the solitude, the privacy and quietude that we need to pray for all of these whom I have mentioned, let alone stay focused on your grace without devotional disruption. But, once again, there is not only the noise but there is the cross.
Oh God, our creator, your Son is our Savior who does not shield us from what the late AME scholar Dr. James Cone once called the Cross and the Lynching Tree. The Gospel of Mark tells us that “Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” exposing everything – Oh God, we now see everything.
We hear all of the noise, nothing is hidden, the world in all of its beauty but also in its ugliness, torn in two, has become our winding shield. We pray constantly, to be shielded rather than exposed to both the beauty and ugliness of this life. We do not have the answers. It is at times like this when I am reminded of the late Donnie Hathaway, mired in the depths of depression and in great spiritual pain, singing those lyrics: We need you right now…” man has gotten out of hand, with his evil ways, …he is not strong enough – … please come down and give us a helping hand – cause we need you. We need you right now. “We are in the world, oh Lord, but we know that we are not of it.”
Lord bless these prayer warriors who have put their trust in you, and in one another. Be with them, may some of the noise in their lives be turned down, at least buffered briefly, for such a time as this. In your name and for the sake of your only begotten Son, I pray.