A call to prayer and fasting in order to combat racism and injustice

June 4, 2020

George Floyd’s blood speaks to me. I have responded to it with grief, anguish, and anger. His death reminds me of the pervading presence and power of racism in our nation. But, it also has left me feeling helpless and powerless. Yet, there is a blood that speaks a better word (Heb. 12:24). That blood has strengthened me and also reminded me that striving violently for peace in our nation—though not physically, and not against flesh and blood—requires an increase of power (Eph. 6). 

Increase in power 

Racism has its roots in demonic strongholds that aren’t easily bound. They are primarily spiritual. These beliefs have been subliminally thread into the fabric of our society and persons over the span of centuries. To assume that racism can be eradicated from our society by mere political ascendency, legislation, or by modest enhancements to the great American experiment is to assume too much about the power held in the visible realm. 

It is the power within the invisible realm that must be obtained and vigorously exercised. Increased faith is the power we need. Specifically, we need an increase in Christian faith, because that faith has an assured hope and a conviction in the promises of a renewed place and people (i.e,. new creation)—a place of shalom, where justice reigns and people forever perpetuate righteousness and much more. That faith hopes and trusts in the promise that it will one day see the person from which it emanates. He is the object of this faith—the Prince of Peace, Jesus—and that faith is always striving to see a renewed place and a renewed people, which he brings about. 

Faith is not static or stoic. Christian faith is a gift of power dispensed from God to overcome evil. And the power of faith is intended to grow. As followers of Jesus, we grow in faith to overcome trials and wage war against darkness (1 John 5:4). As we grow in Christ-likeness, faith grows more vibrant—even in the midst of death. True faith, in fact, grows more aggressive toward the powers of death. 

Nevertheless, in the Gospels, the disciples were given power to heal the sick and cast out demons. Yet, there was an instance that the power they had been given was met with a power they could not overcome—a demon possessed boy (Mark 9:14-29). When Jesus arrives at the scene, he rebukes the demon and casts him out. Then the disciples ask him privately why they couldn’t cast out the demon, which they had done before (c.f. Luke 10:19-21). Jesus responds with a rebuke, “Because of your little faith . . . this kind never comes out except by prayer and fasting (Matt. 17:20-21).” Jesus makes clear that some principalities are more potent than others. As Mark’s Gospel mentions, “this kind [of demon]” requires another level of power. Their faith was required to increase in power in order to combat a greater power. Abraham Kuyper in his work Pro Rege describes it this way:

The disciples did have faith, but not enough power had sprouted from it. Just like the mustard seed, their faith, which in germ was very small, had to develop into an unbelievable power and become like a tree whose branches the birds could nestle. The emphasis is thus on the surprising power, exceeding all expectations, that develops out of the germ of faith. The disciples did not come up short in power because they did not have even a grain of faith. They certainly had that. Rather, it was because the growth of the stalk from the germ of their faith had not been strong enough.[1]

Kuyper makes the point that the plant of faith in the disciples had to increase in order for them to supplant stronger principalities. The account with the disciples is not an unfamiliar or novel scenario in the Scriptures. Daniel prayed and fasted for three weeks, and it contributed to the power to overcome the prince of Persia in Daniel 10. Jesus is led into the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights to pray and fast before his encounter with the prince of darkness. And while the disciples were given a specific task, Jesus' words to them are applicable to us as well. 

Scripture gives us vivid examples of how to combat higher powers in spiritual warfare. The power we wield as Christians is not limited to some spiritual elite, but extends to all believers (1 Pet. 2:9). And it is accessed by those who are regimented in prayer and fasting. When we wage war in the spiritual realm, we must realize that there are levels to this. There is depth and height that we must climb in order to engage in this form of warfare. In our time, the mere germ of faith is not enough to conquer the giant of racism. There is another level of regimented spiritual warfare we must engage in. 

Set aside time for prayer and fasting

Christians in our nation are looking to wage heavenly war on racism and injustice. For that, I am grateful. It is important that we organize our efforts in a regimented fashion. Having a discipline of prayer and fasting against these strongholds in our nation is a good first step. It is also prudent to admit that it is hard to stay present in this battle when it is not always seen with our eyes, depending on our context. So, I think it’s safe to say that we will need habitual practices in our churches, families, and individual lives to stay continually engaged in the battle. Not in a legalistic way, but in a focused and intentional manner. As we’ve seen over the last few weeks, the issues before us require a great deal of seriousness and strategy. 

Here is one suggestion: Set aside a time with your churches, family, or yourself in each month to pray and fast against the stronghold of racism. Pastors, your church will need to find a creative way to make this rhythm and practice fit your church calendar, context, and people. Depending on your context, it may be imprudent to just start doing this on a whim. You’ll need to carefully and pastorally think through how to implement this practice. The same idea applies to the family. Husbands and wives, your family may need to find a way to start the conversation before creating the rhythm. In the meantime, you can begin privately establishing the rhythm and inquire for God’s wisdom for your family until you can carefully cultivate understanding and prepare your family to go in that direction. But perhaps right now while your heart is engaged, pick a date and set aside a specific time to pray and fast for this issue. Maybe grab some friends to join in. It’s simple, but not simplistic. There are complexities and obstacles that will arise in an attempt to plan and implement this. Do the work carefully and prudently. 

Finally, I would encourage you to note specific things to pray and fast about related to racism and injustice in America. It may seem strange to set aside a time in the month to pray and fast against these issues, but doing so while asking God to address specific injustices will provide more motivation. Racism—and slavery along with it—is our nation’s original sin. It is backed by demonic forces and cannot be easily overcome. Developing a regimented practice of prayer and fasting against these strongholds is the best first step in waging warfare against them. So, gear up (1 Pet. 1:13). It’s time to go to war (2 Cor. 10:4).


  1. ^ Abraham Kuyper, Pro Rege: Living Under Christ’s Kingship vol. I: The Exalted Nature of Christ’s Kingship (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016), 148.

Lemanuel Williams

Lemanuel Williams is the director of discipleship at Redemption City Church in Franklin, Tennessee. He is a Hunt Scholar completing his Master of Divinity at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Read More by this Author

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24