A popular book that includes a prayer asking for God to “help me to hate White people” is receiving additional attention after a Virginia pastor posted excerpts from the book on Twitter and urged Christians to be cautious about such theology.
The book A Rhythm of Prayer, edited by Sarah Bessey, is the No. 1 book in Amazon’s Christian Meditation & Devotion Section and is also available in Walmart’s Christian Life/Prayer section and Target’s Religion/Beliefs section.
It includes a collection of prayers and meditations, including one by Chanequa Walker-Barnes that has sparked a controversy.
“Dear God, Please help me to hate White people. Or at least to want to hate them. At least, I want to stop caring about them individually and collectively. I want to stop caring about their misguided, racist souls, to stop believing that they can be better, and they can stop being racist,” writes Walker-Barnes, a clinical psychologist and ecumenical minister.
Bessey adds that the White people she wants to hate are the “Fox News-loving, Trump-supporting voters who ‘don’t see color’ but who make thinly veiled racist comments about ‘those people.’ The people who are happy to have me over for dinner but alert the neighborhood watch anytime an unrecognized person of color passes their house. The people who welcome Black people in their churches and small groups but brand us as heretics if we suggest that Christianity is concerned with the poor and the oppressed.”
Ryan McAllister, the lead pastor at Life Community Church in Alexandria, VA, posted pictures of the entire chapter on Twitter, saying one of his church members sent him the images after discovering the book at Target.
“This kind of thinking is a direct result of CRT and is completely anti-biblical,” McAllister wrote, referencing Critical Race Theory.
The pastor’s tweet led to more than 200 comments. Some defended the chapter and prayer, with one person saying it was “deeply honest & right in line with the imprecatory psalms.”
Walker-Barnes ends the chapter by writing, “Let me be like Jonah, unwilling for my enemies to change, or like Lot, able to walk away from them and their sinfulness without trying to call them to repentance. Let me stop seeing them as members of the same body. Free me from this burden of calling them to confession and repentance.
“... But I will trust in you, my Lord,” she writes in conclusion. “You have kept my love and my hope steadfast even when they have trampled on it. You have rescued me from the monster of racism when it sought to devour me.”
On Saturday, one of the members of my church sent me these images of a “devotional” she found in Target. This kind of thinking is a direct result of CRT and is completely anti-biblical. I shared the first page on Saturday but let me now share the whole thing for context: pic.twitter.com/oiRxHQXY53— Ryan McAllister ن (@RyanTMcAllister) April 5, 2021
Walker-Barnes defended the prayer, saying it’s modeled after the Psalms.
“I took my rage to God in prayer. I owned it. I was truthful to God about what I was struggling with,” she tweeted. “And I prayed for God not to let anger and hatred overwhelm me.”
Apparently a screenshot of my prayer from “A Rhythm of Prayer” is floating on the socials. The folks critiquing have clearly never read Psalms (other than 23 & 100). Cause then they’d recognize what it’s modeled after.— Dr. Chanequa (@drchanequa) April 5, 2021
McAllister, in a follow-up tweet, urged Christians to debate the prayer with charity.
“I encourage continued discussion of this prayer, but I implore you to keep it focused on the ideas. Attacking the person will not bring about anything other than resentment. We are, as followers of King Jesus, ‘ministers of reconciliation,’” he wrote.
I want to emphasize something: we must critique ideas, not people. The people are who we are trying to persuade. We ought to do as Christ commands, “Pray for our enemies.” Have compassion and empathy for them, but not their ideas. Take those ideas to task. https://t.co/aADLGYjaSd— Ryan McAllister ن (@RyanTMcAllister) April 5, 2021
Photo courtesy: Tom Hermans/Unsplash
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.