Pray Without Ceasing

This week's events in Charlotte would be tragic anywhere, but it does feel much closer to home this time. Like Charleston, Charlotte is close, most of us have experiences there, and many of us have people we care about there.

Sally and I watch videos of her hometown, streets outside where we had our rehearsal dinner, streets my brother-in-law uses to get to work, and our hearts break a little more.

We see the violence and hear the pain in the voices of the interviewed and think about Sally's sister, our brother-in-law, and their three African-American children who live very close to downtown. We think about their immediate safety, but also their long-term prospects. It's complicated and it's sad.

This just brings home what we've been feeling since those children have come into our lives, but what many families have experienced forever: legitimate worry. I have worries about my two nephews wearing hooded sweatshirts and backpacks in ways that I do not have for my son. All three boys have good homes with plenty of resources and are taught to respect authority. The difference is their skin color.

We watch Charlotte realizing that there is much we do not know. Was there a gun? Was there not? What other ways could it could have been handled? How much at risk were the police/law enforcement/public safety officers/cops (even what we call them matters in how we perceive them)?

What we do know is there are simply too many incidents like this and so many complicated factors involved - education, poverty, enclaves of despair and hopelessness and joblessness, racial profiling that leads to expecting the worst at the sight of someone who fits a particular description, fear that leads to defensiveness and anger.

We're asked to pray for these situations - and we should, but we should pray for them realizing that prayer is not merely sitting silently and asking for God's intervention.

Paul speaks of praying without ceasing, which does not mean having your head bowed 24/7. Praying without ceasing means living a life of God's presence - receiving and offering it. It means seeking God's will to be done and advocating for it. It means listening - to God and to God's children. It means more than hoping things will get better in Tulsa and Charlotte and Florence, but working toward it.

Please pray (without ceasing).