This extraordinary new book guides through daily prayer for the marginalized in U.S. society (and the world) through all four years of the Trump presidency…
Praying for Justice: A Lectionary of Christian Concern
Anderson Campbell and Steve Sherwood
Paperback: Barclay Press, 2017
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From the introduction:
“It’s easy to look at the campaign rhetoric during the previous eighteen months and conclude that the next four years are going to be profoundly difficult for the vulnerable in our society. The reality is that, for them, every year is difficult. Most of the Founding Fathers were slaveholders. Franklin Delano Roosevelt interred more than one hundred thousand Japanese American citizens. Liberal and conservative presidents led a country that for decades allowed Jim Crow laws to remain in place and denied women the right to vote. John Fitzgerald “Jack” Kennedy dragged his feet on civil rights reform. Ronald Reagan’s policies on mental health led to an explosion in the number of homeless in our country. Bill Clinton ushered in the mass incarceration of young African Americans. Barack Obama has deported more undocumented immigrants than any president before him. If one is convinced, as we are, that God’s heart is uniquely for those without power, without recourse to justice, then there has never been a time in our nation’s history when the powers that be have been in alignment with this passion of God’s.”
My endorsement for this book:
Although many Christians in the United States — across the political spectrum — are deeply concerned by the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency, it is not entirely clear how we should faithfully respond. In Praying for Justice, we find a modest proposal for a way forward. By praying for the justice God intends for those on the margins of society, our hearts, minds, and bodies will be oriented toward faithful action in the way of Jesus. I, for one, look forward to praying these prayers daily over the next four years!
– C. Christopher Smith, founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books and co-author of Slow Church.
As a sample…
Here are the first three weeks of this lectionary:
Week 1: January 20-21, 2017
People are free to choose the political system they want, but not free to do whatever they feel like. They will have to be judged by God’s justice in the political or social system they choose. God is the judge of all social systems. Neither the gospel nor the church can be monopolized by any political or social movement.
– Oscar A. Romero, The Violence of Love (119)
Friday, January 20 – Inauguration Day
Vindicate me, my God, and plead my cause against an unfaithful nation. Rescue me from those who are deceitful and wicked. Psalm 43:1 (NIV)
Saturday, January 21
Rise up, Lord, confront them, bring them down; with your sword rescue me from the wicked. Psalm 17:13 (NIV)
Week 2: January 22-28, 2017
There can be no love apart from suffering. Love demands that we expose ourselves at our most vulnerable point by keeping the heart open.
– Howard Thurman, Mysticism and the Experience of Love (21)
Sunday, January 22
For You save an afflicted people, but haughty eyes You abase. Psalm 18:27 (NASB)
Monday, January 23
He knew what they were thinking and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.” Matthew 12:25 (NRSV)
Tuesday, January 24
For You have been a defense for the helpless, a defense for the needy in [their] distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat. Isaiah 25:4a (NASB)
Wednesday, January 25
You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you say, “How have we wearied [the Lord]?” By saying, “All who do evil are good in the sight of the Lord, and [the Lord] delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?” Malachi 2:17 (NRSV)
Thursday, January 26
Oppressing the poor in order to enrich oneself, and giving to the rich, will lead only to loss. Proverbs 22:16 (NRSV)
Friday, January 27
Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and [God] hears my voice. Psalm 55:17 (NIV)
Saturday, January 28
Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor. Romans 15:2 (NRSV)
Week 3: January 29—February 4, 2017
Love makes it necessary to find the way of truth, understanding, justice and peace. My kind of religion is a very active, highly political, often controversial, and sometimes very dangerous form of engagement in active nonviolence for the transformation of our world.
– Jean Zaru, Occupied with Nonviolence: A Palestinian Woman Speaks (7)
Sunday, January 29
Moreover, Absalom would say, “Oh that one would appoint me judge in the land, then every[one] who has any suit or cause could come to me and I would give [them] justice.” 2 Samuel 15:4 (NASB)
Monday, January 30
If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? Luke 16:11 (NRSV)
Tuesday, January 31
But as for me, I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; Lord, do not delay. Psalm 70:5 (NIV)
Wednesday, February 1
When the wicked are in authority, transgression increases, but the righteous will look upon their downfall. Proverbs 29:16 (NRSV)
Thursday, February 2
The Lord is far from the wicked, but [God] hears the prayer of the righteous. Proverbs 15:29 (NRSV)
Friday, February 3
It is better to be of a lowly spirit among the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud. Proverbs 16:19 (NRSV)
Saturday, February 4
Therefore, thus says the Lord God, “Behold, My servants will eat, but you will be hungry. Behold, My servants will drink, but you will be thirsty. Behold, My servants will rejoice, but you will be put to shame.” Isaiah 65:13 (NASB)
Stuck with these prayers so far?
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C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com
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