A LETTER FROM BISHOP BENFIELD (reprinted from today’s Diocesan’ Communique)
Praying with Eyes Open
In many of our congregations this past Sunday we offered up prayers for the victims of the mass shootings in El Paso and Detroit. It has become an all-too-frequent ritual: eyes closed, prayers said, and flags lowered to half-staff.
Some people might ask of what use it is to pray in such a situation. After all, God is not going to step in and reverse the carnage. But that is not the purpose of prayer. The purpose of prayer is to change our hearts and minds—and bodies. As the Book of Common Prayer reminds us, prayer is our response to God, and that response can take the form of deeds that involve hands and feet and voices that will not be silenced.
Thus, I am going to keep my eyes open when I pray for these dead or injured people and their families. I will not hide my eyes from the poor among us who are denigrated by some for their own gain. I will not hide my eyes from political leaders who remain silent or who put the blame these shootings on mental illness or video games. Christians ought not be blaming others for evils of our own making.
I will keep my eyes open when I pray as to see the innate worth and equality of every person as a child of God. I will keep my eyes open to see the resurrected Christ in every person, regardless of skin color—and then I am called to live accordingly. I will keep my eyes open to find political leaders who similarly keep their eyes open and who are willing to be shaped by the gospel—and who speak and vote accordingly.
If we have the courage to pray, be ready to act. In the long run it is the way that life will overcome the all-too-frequent deaths that, by our own willful blindness, we have allowed to take place. Pray—that is, do what it takes—to turn the kingdom of God from merely a future hope into a concrete, current reality.
Larry R. Benfield
Prayer for the week:
Grant, O Lord, for the sake of those whose
lives were lost this past week in violence,
and for the sake of the generation to come,
that our country and the nations of the world
may learn your way of peace; and that
all may have a chance to enjoy the life you have given us,
free from the senseless violence. May our hearts and
lives remain free of anger and aggression.
Through Your Son, our savior, Jesus the Messiah,
we pray you, oh Heavenly Father. Amen
(Adapted from a prayer by Roger Tomes)