Tag Archives: Answering God

Praying for our hatreds

“It is easy to be honest before God with our hallelujahs; it is somewhat more difficult to be honest in our hurts; it is nearly impossible to be honest before God in the dark emotions of our hate. … We must pray who we actually are, not who we think we should be.  … The way of prayer is not to cover our unlovely emotions so that they will appear respectable, but expose them so that they can be enlisted in the work of the kingdom.  ‘It is an act of profound faith to entrust one’s most precious hatreds to God, knowing they will be taken seriously.’  Hatred, prayed, takes our lives to bedrock where the foundations of justice are being laid.”

~ Eugene Peterson, Answering God: The Psalms As Tools For Prayer

Hatred.  What do we do with it?  More often than not, we act on it and direct it to the person or group of people that we hate.  We speak it or display it with harsh words or actions on picket signs, in public and private practices.

America has a history of hatred that continues to impact the relationships that we as Americans share with each other.  Greed coupled with an unjustified hatred of persons of African descent led to the enslavement of these human beings.  This hatred reduced people to property and saw them as nothing more than objects to be used and exploited.  The persons who “owned” them hated them but loved what they could do for them.  It was a hate- love relationship.

This unfortunate reality and the hate crimes that continue to headline our news speak to our continued misunderstanding of the purpose of human relationships.  We are confused by capitalism, race (and its false promise of supremacy) and other social systems.  But, hatred is a crime against our humanity and the humanity of others.  We do not glorify or praise God in it.

And many of us know this to be true.  Perhaps, this is why we split our identity.  We are black Christians, white Christians, red Christians, brown Christians, yellow Christians, beige Christians.  One part is for God and the other for race.  We know that we are commanded to love our enemies, to bless those who persecute us.  But, we have a history to defend.  If we forgive them, then what?

Heal.  Start over.  Trust.  Build new relationships.  Love.  We must take our whole selves to God including the hateful part, the power that empowers us and that we lord over the unforgiven, that maintains our position as judge, jury and jailer.  We must confess our hatred and ask God to heal us of it, to take it away from us.  I am certain that we cannot do it on our own.

Yes, we should praise God for the things that He is doing with us and through us but, we must also talk about our struggles to love and accept all those that God has created.  We must talk to God about our hatred.  He’s concerned about it and He knows what to do with it.

Race-less and Prayer-Filled

“We are unfinished creatures– longing, reaching, stretching towards fulfillment.  We express these desires for completion in prayer.  Prayers articulate our seeking after the best.  Prayers give voice to aspiration towards the highest.  Everything that is distinctly human gets formulated in prayers: our pathos, our nobility, our creativity.  Also interestingly, everything that is disreputable in us– lust, avarice, pride, pettiness– disguises itself in prayer in order, if possible, to get us credit instead of shame.  But either way, whether in disguise or in reality, prayers show us at our best.”

~ Eugene Peterson, Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer

The race-less life is a prayer- filled life.  You cannot make this kind of declaration without your mind and heart being filled with a conversation that did not begin with you.  I didn’t start this dialogue.  I am merely responding to a prodding, to His questions and answers.  Eugene Peterson teaches us in Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer that prayer is answering God: “What is essential is not that we learn to express ourselves but that we learn to answer God.”

You cannot set your feet to this path, to decide to take this race-less journey if you have not packed prayer.  I continue to proclaim the race- less gospel of Jesus Christ not because of the encouragement of others but because of my conversations with God.  The hymn writer says, “He walks with me and He talks with me/ And he tells me that I am his own…”  I know that I will need it and that others may not be able to pray these kinds of prayers for race-lessness so I pack my own.

I am held together by prayer.   It is what keeps me together, what keeps my mind from wallowing in my history, what keeps my mouth from thinking the former things, what allows me to look in the mirror and see the new creature that God is creating.  Yes, it is true: “prayer changes things” but more importantly, prayer changes us.  I am race-less because I am prayer- filled.

During this season of Lent, why don’t you pray about becoming race-less.