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A Lesson On Prayer From Rev. William Barber

Rev. William Barber, the founder of the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina, wrote an open letter to the clergy who recently met and prayed with the president. It reads, in part:

Dear Reverends Jack Graham, Johnnie Moore, Greg Laurie, Paula White, Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell, Jr., and others,

I write you with a heavy heart as a fellow Christian and a fellow preacher during a trying time in our nation’s public life. Last week, Capitol Hill police arrested me along with other clergy and people with health issues outside Senate Leader Mitch McConnell’s office for doing what you and I do every week in our pulpits, over dinner tables, and in the public square: reading the Word of God and attempting to let the Spirit speak its ancient truth through me into the present.

While we may differ on Biblical interpretation, we do share a common effort to understand God’s Word and discern God’s will. I have noted your doubtless sincere public statements in recent months that such gospel proclamation is needed in America. I listened as President Trump signed his executive order on religious freedom, praising the prophetic legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I watched as you applauded, echoing his sentiment in public statements and letters to your supporters and celebrating an administration that is willing to listen to your counsel. Like millions of Americans, I saw the photo that included several of you praying for President Trump in the Oval Office last week, asking God to give him guidance.

The nation needs our prayers, and no doubt the president does, too. But the Scripture cautions us to lay hands on no man suddenly, lest we become a party to his sins. (1 Timothy 5:22) We cannot simply p-r-a-y pray over people while they p-r-e-y on the poor and vulnerable among us. The teachings of Jesus are clear about caring for the poor and the sick, and we are called to share His message; we cannot simply serve as chaplains to imperial power. If we pray for a person engaging in injustice we must offer prayers that lead to conviction, not prayers that further embolden them in their wrongdoing. And since faith comes by hearing, we must speak prophetically and truthfully to them about using political power to inflict public pain. If they refuse to listen, we must put legs on our prayers and demand that those leaders attend instead to the weightier matters of love justice and mercy.

The full text of Rev. Barber’s letter can be read HERE.




Rev. Michael Piazza

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