By Rev. Dr. Timothy James, National Convocation
Sometimes the storms of life may rage so furiously it can be hard to pray. When a pandemic, a disease that covers the world, is more hazardous among African Americans and persons on the margins, how do I pray? When African Americans and persons of all races declare BLACK LIVES MATTER, march against police brutality and 400 years of racist oppression, I cannot readily take a knee to pray. When our President wants to rally in the city of my birth, where this week we commemorate “The Tulsa Riots of 1921”, where 300 African Americans were massacred in what is known as the destruction of “Black Wall Street”. This does not put me in the mood to go down into “knee-bone valley” and call on the name of the Lord.
In these times when it is hard to pray, I need help. I love the Lord today because He gives me help. “Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness: for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows, what is the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8: 26-27. God helps us in order that He may hear from us.
God hears and answers prayer. Therefore, it behooves us to pray and to ask for help when it is hard to pray. As members of the church and saints of the Body of Christ, prayer should be our common practice. God said, “For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”
God wants to hear from us. God can use our prayers to change things. I have heard it said, “Prayer is the hand that moves the Hand that moves the world.” It is a wonderful privilege to carry everything to God in prayer. We are reminded to, “Confess to one another and pray for one another, so that we may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.” James 5:16. As African American Christians its important that we know who we are and Whose we are.
The Apostle Paul reminds us, “Indeed, we live as human beings, but we do not wage war according to human standards, for the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:3-5). Well church, we have some strongholds to destroy. With the help of the Holy Spirit, our prayers can change things. We fervently pray for healing for all those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and other sicknesses and disease. We earnestly pray for and end to the institutional and systemic racism that has plagued our people for 400 years. We passionately pray that love will conquer hate and that evil will be overcome by good. And we humbly pray for the President, “Lead him Lord, lead him in Thy righteousness, Make Thy way plain before Thy face.” (S. S. Wesley). Lord, turpentine his imagination and soften his heart, for Your glory. With the help of the Holy Spirit, this is our prayer. J. W. Johnson wrote, “God of our weary years, God of or silent tears, Thou, who hast brought us thus far on the way; Thou who hast by Thy might led us into the light, Keep us forever on the path we pray.”