Prayer as activism
Perhaps you’ve been confronted more recently by injustice. George Floyd and the scourge of racism, political and social unrest in Hong Kong, the list goes on. When we see injustice, we feel compelled to do something about it: maybe take to the streets, post something online, donate to an organisation that’s fighting for justice, petition authorities. These can be worthwhile ways of making a stand, but we should not forget the most powerful form of activism: prayer to our Sovereign God.
If we’re convinced that God sees all, rules all, and controls all, we’ll realise that bringing our concerns and petitions to him is an incredible means of seeking justice. Our reluctance to pray reflects not just a disbelief in the power of prayer, but also a failure to see God as Judge. We prefer to interpret justice through our own eyes, not his; to take it in our own hands, not to trust in his timing.
We should not forget the most powerful form of activism: prayer to our Sovereign God.
The Bible is filled with examples of impassioned prayers to God for justice. They inform us about how we can pray when we see injustice. Let’s take Psalm 94 as an example.
First, we lament the injustices. Lament involves godly, trusting complaint. It’s when we see something that distorts and ruins God’s creation and we say, ‘That’s not how things should be!’. The psalmist complains of the wicked saying, ‘They crush your people, LORD; they oppress your inheritance. They slay the widow and the foreigner; they murder the fatherless’ (verses 5-6). Lament is a way we can process our pain, that leads to trust and praise to God.
Second, we stand for truth. The psalmist says, ‘you fools, when will you become wise? Does he who formed the eye not see?… The LORD knows all human plans; he knows that they are futile’ (verses 8-9, 11). Injustice exists because of a refusal to believe that God is the Judge, and to follow his ways. In prayer, we confess God’s righteousness and ask for his ways to be done.
Third, we rest in God’s promises. ‘But the LORD has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge. He will repay them for their sins and destroy them for their wickedness’ (verses 22-23). In prayer we recalibrate; we remember to find our peace in God. People default on their promises because of either their inability or unfaithfulness. God is neither, so we can rest in him.
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