Prayer from Raphael Warnock
Interfaith Day of Prayer
May 7, 2020
Gracious and Loving God. It seems that the prophet Joel very well could have been speaking of our times when he said, “Hear this, O elders, give ear, all inhabitants of the land! Has such a thing happened in your days, or in the days of your ancestors?”
Never in our days have we seen anything like this. Churches are empty, office buildings are empty, stadiums are empty, auditoriums are empty, schools, colleges and universities are empty, and purses are empty. Hotels cannot fill their empty beds and hospitals cannot find enough beds. What, O God, can we do?
Hear the prophet: “Put on sackcloth and lament, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly, cry out to the Lord.” Lament?! We confess that it is in our culture a difficult lesson for us to learn. Lament?! We have no time for it in our work because we are too busy. We have no space for it in our worship because we have reduced worship to celebration and praise. And, we have no place for it in our worldview because our wealth and technology have convinced us that we do not need God.
But indeed we do. So, we lament. We cry out to the God who can deliver. We lament because suffering needs a voice and pain needs a place where it can argue its case before the courts of divine justice. We lament because it is an honest response to the contradictions of the human condition. We lament because it is a faithful word of resistance to the cultural noise and myths of empire determined to return to “business as usual.” We lament because we know that our God can and will deliver us. God, deliver us, even from ourselves. We lament. We wait. We trust our God. Amen.
The Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock
Pastor, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, author, social, political activist, and public theologian.