Today, we find ourselves grieving again for lives lost. With frequent acts of terrorism abroad and domestic shootings at home, it seems not a week goes by without national news reminding us of the state our world is in. Yesterday, three police officers in Baton Rouge, LA tragically lost their lives to a gunman who was killed by other officers during the shooting; four other police officers were severely injured in the attack.
“The officers [killed] were Montrell Jackson, 32, Matthew Gerald, 41, and Brad Garafola, 45. They were part of the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Department.”
This shooting follows a string of national killings involving three separate men shot and killed by police as well as 5 police officers shot and killed in Dallas, TX by a sniper and another 7 officers injured in that attack.
“Baton Rouge has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. There were not many #BatonRouge tweets until 12 days ago, when the news of Alton Sterling’s killing surfaced.
And yesterday, it struck a still darker tone. After a tense week and a half of protests—some peaceful and others violent—an act of hate has left our city stunned and frightened. Three police officers have been killed in the line of duty; four others have been severely wounded by a gunman who turned his hatred into puddles of blood in our streets. We can feel the tensions ratcheting up all over our city. Tonight, Baton Rouge groans for peace and redemption (Rom. 8:20–22).”
The Baton Rouge community is filled with heartache and fear. As believers, we need to understand how fear works and how it can affect our lives and the lives of others. Conner explains,
“Fear causes us to blame others rather than seek to understand them. Fear shouts 'My needs first!' instead of asking 'How can I serve you?' Fear seeks revenge instead of healing. Rather than give in to fear, we must remember that only God can overcome this evil and bring peace—and he does this in our in our communities through the lives of his people.”
Fear brings darkness and hatred, but as Christians we can respond differently. We can respond with God’s love for those who are afraid and we can respond with the gospel, which is a light that no darkness can put out. We can weep with those who weep, and we can grieve with those who are grieving. We can pray alone, we can pray with others, and we can pray corporately with our church.
Conner provides these 5 specific prayer requests for Baton Rouge:
1. Pray for the family of Alton Sterling—especially his wife, Quinyetta, and 15-year-old son, Cameron—who are still grieving his death at the hands of a police officer.
2. Pray for the families of the three slain police officers. Today there are wives and children mourning this terrible tragedy. Our hearts ache for them. Pray for God’s hand of grace to comfort those facing the deepest kind of pain. Pray also for the four wounded officers, that God would preserve their lives, restore their health, and guard their families in the days ahead.
3. Plead for God to raise up men and women out of the churches in our city to be peacemakers for the sake of Baton Rouge. This is the work of the church. God saved us for days like today. There has never been a better time to be a follower of Jesus.
4. Pray for our city leaders, policemen, and first responders. These past two weeks have been exhausting for each one of them. Pray for God’s hand of protection on them all.
5. Pray that the praise of Jesus will be on the lips of the redeemed and the words of peace will flow not just from our lips, but from our lives. Pray that our gospel song will resound in the streets and neighborhoods of Baton Rouge as we hold out Christ as the only hope for true peace.
To read Conner's article in its entirety please visit TheGospelCoalition.org.
Pastor and Crosswalk Contributor, Brad Russell, shares this prayer for times of grief:
“Your presence is our peace and comfort. Your nearness is our hope. Many are brokenhearted today. Draw near and bring them comfort and peace. But many of those who are hurting today can know no real comfort today, not only because of their immense temporal loss, but because they do not know You. Today families are grieving without hope. Lord, draw near to them in the crushed spirits. Bring believers with the Gospel into their lives to speak grace, truth, love and eternity into their hopeless hearts. Bring them to hope even today, Lord.”
Will you join us in prayer for the Baton Rouge community, for the Dallas community, for all the families who lost loved ones in these killings, and for the communities abroad who have suffered terrorist attacks? But most of all please join us in prayer for the furthering of the gospel—for God’s Word and love to be shared as a light in our dark world.
The Urgency of the Hour
Publication date: July 18, 2016
Liz Kanoy is an editor for Crosswalk.com.