Racism Needs A Vaccine


Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery (l-r)

As if a global pandemic wasn’t enough, this week the President of the United States co-opted sacred space for political antics and partisan pandering while jeopardizing lives and using the military as props in an ongoing drama that has turned into America’s nightmare. On Monday, military police were asked to unleash tear gas, rubber bullets and other weaponry on peaceful protesters at Lafayette Park across from the White House—an undeniable show of force all for the President to pose for a photo-op in front of a church, Bible in hand. It was an outrageous scene—unequivocally not Christian. All Christians should hold the President accountable for gratuitously violating sacred Christian symbols for political gain.

I imagine that Jesus was turn-the-tables-over-in-the-temple angry


St. John’s Church in Washington, D.C.

at what transpired in front of St. John’s Church. A church. The place where there is sanctuary from the burdens of the world. The place where we find peace and refuge for our troubled souls. The place where we rejoice and give thanks, marry and nurture children in the faith and say our last goodbyes to loved ones. Churches are not meant to be used for political grandstanding in response to protesters demanding justice for an unarmed, handcuffed Black man whose life was snuffed out by those sworn to protect and serve.

My house shall be called a house of prayer; but you are making it a den of robbers (Matthew 21:13, NRSV). Those are the words of Jesus. Found in the Bible that was on display but not being honored. You see, George Floyd’s life was stolen from him, a church was robbed of its sacred space, and God’s people were robbed of their dignity and right to stand up and speak out. The sanctity of the lives of the protesters was callously disregarded for a publicity stunt gone wrong.

How will we recover from this?

At a moment in our nation’s history when there is a desperate need for leadership and healing, the person with the title and position most able to deliver both instead decides to further divide us while putting Americans in harm’s way and defiling sacred space. Surely, we have reached a new low where there is no bottom.

Sadly, that is not all. Amid the global crisis of COVID-19 is a parallel and equally deadly pandemic—racism. While we were equipping ourselves with masks and gloves, socially

Leslie aundreia jen at the WH

Praying at Lafayette Park in front of the White House on May 31, 2020

distancing and washing our hands profusely to ward off the coronavirus, we never properly geared up for another round of racial incidents. And, now our nation is at a tipping point. Continue reading

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My Twelfth #PrayerofChristmas

Dear Gracious, Sufficient, and All-Wise God,

Thank You for the privilege of prayer.  Thank You for leading us to Your throne of grace and for Your altar always being open to us. Thank You for holding us in Your bosom and for being better to us than we’ve been to ourselves. Thank You for watching over us and keeping us in spite of us. Thank You for leading us and guiding us. Thank You that Your word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Thank You for not leaving us to our own devices but loving us enough to correct us and set us straight when we need it!

God, You know that sometimes we are foolish. Sometimes we are stubborn. Sometimes we insist on doing things our own way. Sometimes we have been idolatrous and have not learned from our mistakes. We are prone to wander. Forgive us, O God. Help us to have hearts, minds, and actions that are in line with Your will and reflective of You.

On this eve of the Epiphany, we pray for Your church. We pray that we would embody who You’ve purposed us to be. We pray that we would be faithful to the tasks You have entrusted to us, even as You have been faithful to us. Help us to rise up and be Your hands, feet, and mouthpieces in this world. Let us not be so busy doing church that we forget to be the church. Let us not be so caught up in form or fashion or tradition that we end up playing church, not exemplifying it. Help us to be authentic in the ways we show up on Your behalf. Let us exhibit Your compassion, love, joy, righteousness, mercy, grace, peace, wisdom in all that we endeavor to do. Help us to walk in the power You have given us!

We pray that we would fully embrace every opportunity to be light and salt in this world. Help us to walk in Your love, Your light, Your wisdom. Let us not hide under a bushel…or be silent…or turn a blind eye to injustice in this world. When our voices are needed, when our help is needed, when we are needed, let us be marked present and accounted for. In moments when we might deliberate too long or be slow to take a stand, move us to act on behalf of others and personify Your love, we pray.

Let us not be swayed by smooth talk, vain imaginations or the empty promises of this world. Help us to be grounded in You and not influenced by wolves in sheep’s clothing. Give us discernment, strength, and courage, we pray. Equip us and prepare us. Mold us and shape us, transform us into who You would have us to be.

And, for those who have been hurt by the church, we pray for Your forgiveness and their healing. None of us is perfect, O God. When our imperfections are detrimental to others, we pray that You would help us to fix it. In the same way, help us to be slow to take offense, to be open and honest with one another and quick to reconcile. Hear our prayers, O God.

We also pray that we would love our neighbors and our enemies, as You have instructed us. Help us to put aside pettiness and selfish ambition. Help us to see the world and Your people with Your eyes. Help us to hear and listen with Your ears. Help us, O God, to be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves.

It’s in the Name of Jesus, in whom hope, joy, and love spring eternal, we do pray. Amen.


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My Eleventh #PrayerofChristmas

ocean city md summer 2019

Ocean City, MD 2019

Dear Gracious and Way-Making God,

How majestic is Your name in all the earth! We magnify and exalt You, today. We lift up Your name and give You praise. Thank You for last night’s rest and for seeing us through another day. Your faithfulness is immeasurable and Your blessings are endless! Thank You, O God!

On this eleventh day of Christmas, we lift up those who are waiting for a way to be made out of no way. We pray that You will move mightily on their behalf. Your word lets us know that You will supply all of our needs according to Your riches in glory. We pray that the floodgates would open for Your people: Continue reading

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My Tenth #PrayerofChristmas

rooftop view of Geneva, Switzerland

A rooftop view of Geneva, Switzerland, July 2019

Dear Gracious and Awesome God,

Thank You for Your love. Thank You for not giving up on us. We thank You for looking past our inconsistencies and our deficiencies and blessing us anyhow! In spite of our flaws, in spite of our imperfections, You do not cast us aside. Instead, You envelop us with Your lovingkindness and tender mercies. Thank You!

We recognize today that if we had ten thousand tongues, we could not thank You enough for all that You’ve done for us. When we reflect on Your goodness, our hearts leap with joy and gratefulness! The way You show up in our lives leaves us in awe of You! Even in our most difficult moments, we can call on Your Name and know that You will harken Your ear to our cries!

Today we lift up our nation to You. In so many ways, we are in trouble and in need of help, O God. We know that bad decisions by our leaders can have deadly consequences. We know that leaders who operate purely out of selfish ambition and without regard for Your people can cause a rippling effect that negatively impacts generations. We pray for our leaders today.  Have mercy, O God!

We ask that You give our leaders on every level, local, statewide and national, a heart for Your people — all of Your people. We pray that they will embody public service and not self-service. We pray that they will create and advocate for policies that will not just help the richest and privileged among us, but the poor, the orphan, the widow, the most vulnerable. Those, O God, you have called the least of these. Prick their hearts. Change their priorities. Give them wisdom and insight. Touch their minds and alter their agendas, we pray.

We also pray that we would not abdicate our own responsibility to hold our leaders accountable and to help our neighbors. Give us a heart to serve. When we find ourselves in leadership positions, help us to lead responsibly. Let us show up in the places and spaces we are needed. Adjust our focus so that we can see both our needs and those of our neighbors. Help us to look out for the interests of others and not just our own. Help us to bring positive transformation to our communities because so many desperately need it right now!

We further pray for Your covering and Your protection. Your word lets us know that there will be wars and rumors of wars. Deliver us from evil. Shield us from being the collateral damage of egotistical leaders wielding power unnecessarily and irresponsibly. Help them to feel the weight of every decision they make that will impact others. Let no decision be made lightly. Let Your kingdom coming be evident all around us. Let there be peace — visible, tangible peace in our homes, communities, nation, and throughout our global village, we pray.

And, for those who do not know Your peace and for whom calling You good, gracious, merciful, awesome, seems like empty words; we pray that they would encounter You this day. We pray that they would know You intimately. We pray that they would experience You and know Your love, peace, and joy for themselves. For those seeking to be leaders, we pray that they would not do so at all costs but with humility, integrity, and purity of heart and motivations.

In the Name of Jesus, whose love abides in us and who promised to be with us always even to the end of the age, we pray and ask these things. Amen.

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My Ninth #PrayerofChristmas


This rock, which bears a cross, is near the marker in Old Point Comfort, VA, where the first enslaved Africans were brought. To me, it signifies that freedom was always inevitable.

Dear Gracious and Delivering God,

We thank You for a good, new day! We give You thanks because Your mercy endures forever. Thank You for being a Deliverer. Thank You for being a Strongtower. You have watched over us and kept us. Thank You for catching us when we have stumbled and fallen. Thank You that Your character overrides our poor decision-making. Thank You for Your grace!

We celebrate You for Your mighty acts, O God! When we were bound by inaction, insecurities or fear, You set us free. When we were trapped by other people’s opinions, You delivered us. When we were relegated by others to a box that underestimated and devalued us because of who You created us to be, You liberated and opened doors for us.

Help us to walk in freedom and make sure others are able to do the same. Help us to be a liberating force in this world. Where there is poverty, oppression, injustice, disease, help us to fight it with the empowering force of Your love and the resources You have entrusted to us. When we are enslaved by ideologies or practices that diminish others or keep them bound, deliver us from ourselves. Help us to see others as You see them and then do what we can to make sure their lives and circumstances reflect Your vision. Continue reading

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My Eighth #PrayerofChristmas

rainbow after rain

I captured this photo of a rainbow following torrential rain

Dear Gracious and Promise-keeping God,

Thank You for the blessing of a New Year!  Thank You for a fresh start and a new beginning. Thank You for new mercies and Your great faithfulness! We thank You for being a Promise-keeper and a Burden-bearer. You have made a way out of no way. You have been good to us! We thank You for Your promises and that every promise in You is Yes and Amen. We thank You that You can be trusted in all things. There is none other like You in all the earth! Praise Your holy name! 

As we rise in a new year, we pray that we will also rise to the occasion of being Your disciples wherever we go. Help us to bear fruit and exemplify love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. We bind up discord, wrath, envy, selfish ambitions, idolatry, hatred, quarreling, and dissensions–anything and everything that would hinder us from being Your witnesses.

We pray that we would be instruments of Your peace. Give us the discernment that we need to respond to every circumstance with wisdom and courage. Empower us with Your Spirit, O God. Help us to move and be present in the world in ways that glorify and honor You. Let us be the answer to someone else’s prayers.

In the year ahead we know that there are dangers both seen and unseen. Continue reading

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My Seventh #PrayerofChristmas

swan swimming Geneva cropped

Dear Gracious and Providing God,

Thank You for Your provision. Thank You for clearing a path for us to follow. Thank You for all of the times You made a way out of no way for us and met our needs right in the nick of time. In our dry seasons and seasons of struggle, You have shown us again and again that You are faithful and You can be trusted. Thank You!

We give thanks to You today, O God, for You have done great and marvelous things in our sight! When we look back over this year and think about all that You’ve brought us through; when we consider all that You’ve done for us, when we recognize that we made it and we are still here, our souls shout the highest praise, Hallelujah! Thank You, Jesus!

Thank You for keeping us. Thank You for watching over us. Thank You for correcting us. Thank You for blessing us day after day after day! Your goodness has filled us when we were empty. Your lovingkindness has overtaken us. Your mercy has flooded our lives. Our cups have run over!

While we don’t know what the next year will bring, we do know that Your record is good with us! Continue reading

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My Sixth #PrayerofChristmas

Dear Gracious and Living God,

Thank You for being active in our lives. We know that we can call on You and You will hear us and answer. We thank You for Your love, which abides in us and is evident in our lives. Help us to abide in You as we journey through this thing called life. Help us to remember that Your yoke is easy and Your burden is light and we can cast our cares on You. We do not have to carry them alone. We do not walk alone. Thank You!

We have some burdens today, O God. From our last prayer to this one, so many things have happened that weigh on our hearts. We’ve gotten bad news about a loved one’s health. We’ve seen hatred rear its ugly head again. We’ve recognized the folly of our own inaction. We’ve heard about wars and rumors of wars. We have seen violence beget more violence. Have mercy on us, O God!

We pray for all who are personally affected by this upheaval. We pray for our communities. We seem to have a hard time learning lessons from one tragic situation to the next. Rise up in us, O God, so that the transformation You have done in us will pour out into the world. Continue reading

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My Fifth #PrayerofChristmas

waterfall at retreat center for Grace deacons retreat cropped

On the grounds of Tarrytown (NY) Estates and Conference Center in 2017

Gracious and Redeeming God,

Morning has come and we are grateful. Thank You! Thank You for the blessing of another day and another chance to get it right. Thank You for not counting our faults against us. Thank You for seeing past our issues and shortcomings to see our possibilities and our needs. Thank You for Your redemptive work that is still at work in us.

Fortify us on this day, O God. Grant us Your peace and restore our souls. For so many, this has been a “walking through the valley of the shadow of death” kind of season. Still others have cried out because it seemed like ruin was all around them. Loss has been compounded with loss. The chewing locust and the swarming locust and the crawling locust and the consuming locust seem to be making their way through the lives of Your people. Yet, we can celebrate because Your word says that You will restore all that the locusts have eaten (Joel 1, 2). Restore Your people today, O God!

Let there be new wine and new wineskins. Let there be living water flowing through us. Do a new thing in us and let it spring forth, spilling over into our families, communities, and nation! And, we, Your people who have been redeemed, will be mindful to give You praise, honor, and glory! Bless Your Holy Name! Continue reading

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My Fourth #PrayerofChristmas

Sunrise Myrtle Beach 3 cropped

Sunrise in Myrtle Beach, SC, Sept. 2018


Gracious and Sustaining God,

Hallowed is Your name! Thank You for Your peace that kept us through the night and Your loving hand that woke us up this morning. Thank You for the many ways that You show up for us throughout each day. Thank You for the reminders that You care for us and we can count on You to come through, even in our midnight hour.  We declare today that You are GOOD! Holy is Your name!

Today, we come before You lifting up those for whom the midnight seems to be lasting a long, long time. God, we pray that they would be enveloped by Your love. Your word tells us weeping endures for a night but joy comes in the morning. Yet, for so many of Your people, the clock seems to be stuck in the darkest hour of the night.  We pray for their endurance and strength. We pray for there to be a brook in a dry place for them. Let an encouraging word be said to them when they need it the most. Let someone else’s testimony of morning joy, of renewed hope, of peace that passes all understanding, saturate their very souls so that they can know that difficult circumstances are not the end of their story. Help them to run on to see what the end shall be! Continue reading

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