Social & Political Issues

To the white church who did not pray for the black man on Sunday

Sturbuck Community Church

I know that your heart is good. I see it nearly every week in your pastors and services, in the softness of your hearts toward God, in your love for each other and for your children. I see it when you serve the community with vacation bible schools and fundraisers for wells in Africa and city wide clean ups. I hear it in your songs and in your prayers, in your Sunday schools and in your sermons.

But Sunday, if you did not pray for the black man right alongside the police man, you missed the heart of God. If a black man had sat in your midst and heard you pray only for the police man and the police man’s family, but not the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and the decades of innocent black men killed by police men, I would not have blamed him for standing and shouting out in the middle of your prayer, “What the hell about me?! Do you care about me at all?!” And I would not have blamed him if he stormed out of your sanctuary and wept on your steps, desperate because he found no sanctuary in your midst.

Where were you on Sunday, white church who could not see past its own skin? How long will you stay silent while your brothers and sisters suffer?  You wonder why people of color do not join your ranks or stay when they visit you…perhaps it has something to do with the people in your pews who smirk to each other and whisper, “I’m so sick of this #blacklivesmatter thing” when they don’t know you’re listening. Perhaps it’s because you don’t even notice that you didn’t pray for their pain or acknowledge their anguish and you are still stubbornly defending your self-righteous actions. Perhaps it’s because they are worn thin of hearing Jesus tossed about as an excuse to dismiss centuries of racial oppression supported by their very walls.

You may accuse me of being angry—I know that’s not an acceptable way to communicate in our culture—but I can no longer swallow my sorrow silently while you pretend that nothing is happening. More than just police families are weeping for their sons and husbands and fathers, and they have been doing so for centuries. Failing to pray for them is akin to turning your back, sticking your fingers in your ears, and squeezing your eyes shut tight. We are not first graders, family—we are followers of a God who holds a deep and mighty love for the police man and the black man in equal measure; and we will not grow up until we start praying like it.

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17 thoughts on “To the white church who did not pray for the black man on Sunday”

  1. I don’t think the lack of Prayer for Sterling was because he was black, I think it’s because he’s viewed as a criminal. Had Sterling been white, and the murdered cops been black, I think you would have seen the church praying for the black officers, and not praying for white suspect who was killed by cops.

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    1. If he were viewed as a criminal, all the more he needed the prayers of believers. There’s no excuse. The Lord talked about visiting those in prison. He didn’t say just visit the innocent. Prisoners, period.

      If the Lord values that, I wonder how much He values our prayers as well.

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  2. There are two America’s as Dr King said before he died. We live under foolish thinking like Jr’s that preachers all accross this country teach their congregations. That is black and white preachers. So here is what I am doing, rethinking where and who I spend my money with. This system understands one thing MONEY and where I spend mine will be my focus until the day I die. I as a black man have never felt inferior to any man. I think that is the mistake some of these folks just don’t get. Not all of us live under the oppression of that narrative. This I am sorry is something prayer won’t fix. Prayer will never fix racism. Simply making a decision to change and stop it whenever you see it or hear it will fix it. From the joke in the office to the pillow talk with your spouse. You be the change you want to see. I often tell my friends a good test to see how supportive of diversity you are is to take a look at your next dinner party or cook out to see how many blacks or whites are there. For most folks they eat with, vacation with folks who look just like them. How will you ever forge change like that…..just a few random thoughts.

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  3. your words are excellent and brave. as a black woman, i have sat in white churches and experienced exactly what you described. HEART/SOUL surgery is urgently needed…it won’t be easy and some may never get it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry for your experience, Cynthia. Thanks for commenting… you’re right – some won’t ever get it, as will be demonstrated in some of the comments that start showing up here – but I do think that some are also beginning to. There are white people who care – they just don’t understand.

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  4. Dividing the church…satan’s agenda

    Absalom had a way of judging everything by his own criteria. His brother, Amnon, sinned and Absalom determined that he deserved to die, so he arranged the execution of his own brother. Instead of seeing himself as a murderer, he saw himself as a hero, worthy of a Medal of Honor or some other kind of special recognition for his noble achievement. He was twisted in his thinking.

    In the same manner, a modern Absalom gets offended at leadership, then, secretly arranges the subtle “execution” of the leader’s reputation, achievements, or integrity.

    An Absalom spirit typically harbors camouflaged bitterness, unresolved offenses, disappointments, and anger, as we see in his treatment of his brother’s offense. His father, King David would never have approved the murder of Absalom’s brother, so he plotted it all on his own.

    When a modern day Absalom’s ideas are not accepted or promoted by the leadership, as he believes they should be, he becomes offended. Once a person takes on an offense, and does not resolve it, he becomes offended at everything, no matter how minor. He will carry that unresolved offense in his heart often searching for others to agree with him in the offense (2 Samuel 13:20-29

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      1. We are no longer focusing on forgiveness, true forgiveness. We abhor the authority in our lives and secretly feel justified by the actions that have recently taken place. Now without insight, this post shows the propagation of divisiveness that the enemy thrives on. He divided Adam and Evening from God, Judah from Christ, and now the white/black church.

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        1. Are you saying that white people are authority over black people? Is this what you mean? Your point is still unclear to me. It would be helpful if you clarified who exactly you’re speaking about.

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          1. That is definitely not what I am talking about. I am talking in reference to the original post. What I am speaking on isn’t about color. The authority in line with the post are the police. The higher authority is God who has commanded us to love and not hate. We are so busy judging everyone on our own criteria that we can no longer see that God doesn’t care about the color of skin but the willingness to live our lives in his will.

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            1. Thanks for clarifying! So does that mean that no one should speak if authority is abusing its power or the people are distracted by themselves? The biblical prophets set no precedence for this. Jesus himself called the pharisees a brood of vipers and asked us to repent of our own sin. Ephesians 5:11 tells us to “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”

              The church has never been perfect, and never will be. Calling out the sin we see is not necessarily divisive; sometimes it can be biblical. People with power (in this case the white people) tend to use the argument of authority to maintain power, especially when they are abusing it.

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  5. Whoa…
    WOW…
    THANK YOU!
    One lesson I learned in my Christian walk is that it is impossible to adequately pray for those you secretly despise. In fact, these are they that never come up on the prayer radar. If we desire to learn to pray unrestricted prayers, what we need here in America is heart surgery. But this kind surgery will never takes place without consent. We must be willing to submit to this process of heart transformation, especially those that call Him the “Great Physician”.

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    1. You are so correct….I look at what is going on politically and the divide that exists……I have seen COUNTLESS individuals claim to be “true” or “Conservative” Christians, yet say the nastiest, cruelest things about other people, particularly those of other races….conversely, I have seen “liberals” accept everything and use the blame game when convenient….I have been away from the church for a long time and quite honestly, when I see people who profess the love of God in one breath, then spew hate in the next, it makes me question the church as a whole and what principals Christianity stands for!!

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