Yesterday (Saturday, January 14, 2023) I participated in the MLK Unity March in downtown Apex. It began at the historic Apex First Baptist Church on Salem St. and then proceeded through the downtown to the Apex Town Hall. This is the third year of the event, and in each of the celebrations I have offered one of the prayers. It has been a great representation of the city's government (Mayor Jacques Gilbert, Police Chief Jason Armstrong), local pastors, and Christians from various churches. I continue to be encouraged by the direction of the event.
This is the prayer I spoke:
Heavenly Father, gracious Lord, the One who rules and reigns with perfect holiness, perfect justice, and unblemished goodness,
We come to you this morning to repent, to give thanks, and to pray.
We want to repent of sins that come from darkened hearts and foolish minds and misguided loves.
What we should love, we hate. What we should hate, we love. What we should consider wise, we consider foolish. What we should consider foolish, we consider wise.
And on this day we are especially aware of how this has affected how we see others. We should see through eyes of true Christian love—a love that rejoices in truth, celebrates differences, and embraces people from very different backgrounds from our own.
And yet, heavenly Father, our love so often falls short of this. Change us, O Lord.
And we come to you as citizens in a vast and diverse society. A society with a history that is like our own hearts—a mixture of the noble and good and the shameful and wicked. O Lord, let us be part of seeing a transformation of this society into one that brings glory to you and allows our fellow men and women to flourish.
Your inspired Word tells us that governments are to reward the good and punish the evil, but we know earthly governments so often do not. They so often punish the good and reward the evil.
O Lord, let this nation be filled with a generation of men and women who understand true good and evil and work to live that out in our laws, our policies, our policing—even down to the level of simple conversations in stores and restaurants right here in Apex, NC.
Father, we pray from a place that 200 years ago would have seen people divided into slave and free; where 100 years ago there would have been a bitter separation into whites and colored. This history can feel ancient, but it isn’t. The effects remain.
O Lord, let us be humbled by these sins of the past and determine to see real change in the future.
Let us be a part of fulfilling the great vision you give to us in your Word where the apostle John says,
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev 7:9–10)
Lord, the salvation of our souls and the salvation of our society can only be found in you. We reflect on the crimes and sins and failures of our society and know that its “salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
We finish by praying once again a prayer that has been lifted up hundreds of thousands of times in our nation,
Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (Amos 5:24)
We pray this in the great name above all names, the Lord Jesus Christ.