When faced with social injustices, most people are told to simply pray for change. While prayer is powerful, it’s “easier said then done” in these situations for a couple of reasons.
Perhaps the more obvious reason is it’s hard to pray when we’re hurting. When things are good, we can praise God for what He’s done with a thankful heart, but when things look hopeless, we’re often in states of desperation or anger and often even at a loss for words.
Which leads me to the second reason:
“When prayer seems like the only option, what do I say to God?”
A lot of people truly do believe that prayer is their only answer, and although it’s hard to digest that notion at times, prayer should at least be a first response for believers because it has the power to be a very effective tool, if used correctly.
So what does one pray in situations of injustice?
1. Pray for those directly affected.
Someone’s parent, child, sibling or friend was unfairly murdered so we mourn with them. God hears our cries, especially when we don’t have the strength to say anything of substance. But if we can muster a few words, we pray that God would give those directly affected peace that passes all understanding. That He would protect the rest of the family — mentally and physically. That He would comfort them and provide for them — spiritually and financially. We pray not that the burden be removed from them, but that somehow their mess would turn into a message, and maybe even a movement.
2. Pray that the hearts of the oppressors will be softened.
This one is hard. It’s hard to value or even care about the heart of someone who could cause so much harm to an innocent life. But still, this prayer is important because if no one is praying for people like them, then what type of progress do we expect to see? If their hearts aren’t changed, then how will the senseless violence permanently stop?
Luke 6:28, “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
3. Pray for solutions (and to be part of the solution).
Faith without works is dead. I could repeat this one phrase a thousand times. Faith without works is dead.
Prayer is great, and necessary even, but we need to learn to pray with our feet. Ask God for guidance for ideas that can make a difference. Ask Him how we can use the gifts and talents that He gave us to be a part of the change that the world so desperately needs.
I think this is the part of prayer that is so often forgotten. People like to ask God to “somehow make things better,” but forget that if everyone is praying that same prayer, then nothing is actually getting done — nothing is getting better. In no way, should we devalue the power of prayer itself, I believe God that can do the impossible, but we must remember to be doers of The Word and not hearers only. Typically, God uses human beings to get His work done. So talk to Holy Spirit throughout your day to get guidance about each step you should take and each word you should say on your journey for justice.
4. Pray for yourself.
Lastly, do not forget to pray for yourself and for your loved ones. Cover those in your circle with prayer in hopes that they do not become the next hashtag. Pray for the condition of your heart and your mind. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by the injustices of this world that we become desensitized, angry or even unstable. Prayer is one way to practice self-care and ensure that we’re alive and well to see another day and fight another fight.
It’s okay to be angry about injustice, but The Bible says, “in your anger do not sin.” Turn to prayer instead. Pray by yourself, pray with others, journal or cry out when it hurts too much and you simply can’t find the words to pray.
Ask God the tough questions because honestly injustice just does not make sense.
In addition to talking to God, talk to others as well. Take to social media, coffee chats, etc. to make your voice heard and then, prayerfully take action.