Bystanders and mourners cast shadows on the walls and the makeshift memorial at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston

To the God who made one human race from the dust of the ground,
who made us after his image that we might reflect his nature
and that we might reflect his character,
we come to you with minds that are confused and hearts that are broken,
in a tongue that is laboring to give birth to words and emotions
too powerful to be constrained by our impotent vocabulary;
so we cry and stomp and tremble, hoping you hear.

Again, Father, our conscience has been pricked by the angry bullets of hate;
the blood of the victims and the tears of their families cry out to you for justice.
We beg for your wisdom, for we do not know where to go or how to get there;
we beg for your courage, because we allow our fear to paralyze us from doing what is right;
we beg for your mercy, for we often turn back from what we set out to do.

We pray for the families of the victims whose loved ones were slain in cold blood,
that your healing love will keep their hearts from becoming frozen
by the pain of bitterness and resentment.
We pray that you will comfort them in the middle of their pain
and give them the resolve to continue
when they will be tempted to give up.

We pray for the shooter, that his heart will soften
and that he will repent and seek your forgiveness.
We pray for the shooter’s family, that you might comfort them
and that we might show mercy toward them.

We pray that this tragedy will serve as another wake up call,
an alarm that will wake us from a racist nightmare of indifference.
Help us, Lord, not to push the snooze button and continue to sleep,
but to wake up and soberly face the struggle before us.
Help us, O God, to work on the problems together,
because many hands make the work light.

Help us work together, because the problems are too big
for any one person or ethnic group alone to fix.
Help us work together, because the humanity that unites us
is stronger than the perspectives that divide us.

Help us to lean on you, because at the root of all evil,
whether passive or purposeful,
is a sinful heart that can only be cleansed and strengthened
by the blood of your Son.


~ a prayer by Bobby Green, minister for the Metropolitan Church of Christ in Charleston, SC