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Are You Awake?

God’s people are to be an awakened people.


Typically, sermons begin with a prayer for illumination and end with a prayer of application. The preacher starts by asking God to open their hearers’ eyes and hearts to receive their word for the day, then concludes by asking God to do his part and help hearers do their part to apply that word in today’s world. This morning, I’m reversing that order.

I recently came across a prayer for social justice that has been ringing in my mind ever since I first read it. It goes like this:

Righteous Lord God, you love justice and hate evil, and you care for the weak, vulnerable, needy, and the oppressed. Bless our country and its leaders with the wisdom of righteousness and peace. May they secure the right of protection for the unborn, equality of educational opportunities for the young, work for the unemployed, health care for the sick, and food for the hungry. Help management and labor to cooperate for the common good, giving honest work, and receiving a fair wage. Deliver our land from all tribal, social, and religious strife, and make our national life more pleasing in your holy sight, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

I’ve been unable to get this prayer out of my head for three reasons. The first is its timeliness. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re aware of the ongoing social unrest that’s shaking our nation to its core. Cries for social justice and for people of all stripes to wake up to the plight of our black neighbors especially are ringing from shore to shore. Yet strangely, this prayer wasn’t voiced by an American believer in recent weeks but by the British Anglican priest John Stott who died in 2011. His prayer has a certain timelessness about it.

I haven’t ...

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Gregory Hollifield is the Associate Dean at Memphis College of Urban and Theological Studies at Union University and Book Reviews Editor for the Journal of the Evangelical Homiletics Society.

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