A prayer of help and lament during racial injustice and riots

June 1, 2020

Like many Americans this week, my sleep has been interrupted by deep anguish of the soul. Over this past year, God has directed me to study his Word by tracing the theme of sorrow and lament. Lament literally means “an expression of grief or sorrow” and is a prayer in the form of a complaint against God. It is an acknowledgement of one’s bleak situation, desperation for deliverance, and an appeal to the very character of God. A lament gives believers the rhetorical tools to grieve biblically, which leads to worship and the comfort of our Heavenly Father. 

Instead of a thin veneer, biblical lament offers us something more substantial, more weighty, more enduring and less circumstantial. Our local churches need this example during this current season. God knows our thoughts, fears, and grief (Psalm 139). The Lord wants us to cast our burdens on him (Psalm 55:22). In fact, it’s the very valley of the shadow of death that he promises to walk through with us (Psalm 23). And we are promised: “Blessed are those that mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matt. 5:4).

Life is hard, really hard. The clear story of the Bible tells us this fact. Beginning in Genesis 3, man’s sin unleashed an unceasing fury on creation that remains to this day. It will not relent until Christ returns again (Rev. 19). Unlike the popular Hallmark Channel movies that are clean and tidy, our world is messy. We see throughout the Bible, church history, and our very lives, that sadness is a constant companion (John 16:33). Our hearts get pulverized in this fallen world.  

Yet, thankfully, the good news of Scripture is that a Redeemer has come to restore what sin has broken. Jesus did this by being the perfect sacrifice for sin on the cross and raising victoriously from the grave, beating sin, Satan, and death. 

We will get through this horrific time in our world and nation, but not by minimizing the reality of its awfulness. Christians will triumph in hope when we hold up against the backdrop of this global pandemic and national crisis a big God who is good, wise, and sovereign over all things. We give hope to our community, not by pointing them to an upcoming political election, showing them the green arrows on the stock market ticker tape, or by pacifying them with a watered-down pop psychology that claims to be truth. Instead, we point them to the suffering Savior. 

So, last night I watched and researched the riots with my four sons, including our African American son. I attempted to explain honestly to them the horrors of racism in our world, the horrific, evil murder of George Floyd, and the sinful violence and destruction of our communities by rioters. When I laid my head on my pillow, I had nothing left. I did not have all of the answers, the right balance of social outcry to all that ails us, nor a summary theory that makes all of this make sense. All I had was desperation and a Heavenly Father that is sufficient in all of my weakness. I called out to God in the following prayer based on Psalm 16: 

Oh God, 

You are our refuge; do not allow us to be shaken. Preserve us in the midst of the overwhelming decay in our current circumstances. You are infinitely good and our only hope. Your name is on your people, and you promise to make our righteousness like the dawn and the justice of our cause like the noonday sun, if we delight in you. Your church is being flanked on every side. We confess that we are too often silent to injustice and to the hope of the gospel. We are often more vocal in our political and tribal allegiances. We are active in defending our own name but negligent in lifting up yours. It seems that Satan is winning and that you are being made into a mockery, our King and our God. We are worshiping at the altar of many false gods, which are no gods at all. We are often bitter, hateful, compassionless, prideful, and trouble makers. Turn our hearts to you.

Lord of Lords, for the mothers (and fathers) of black sons that cannot close their eyes for the horror. Erase from their minds the primordial scream of George Floyd that is burned into their ears, as he gasped for air and called for his mother during his final moments. Be their portion and cup. Hear their cry for help, and carry this burden for them, Sovereign Ruler of all. Cause the lines to fall for them in pleasant places, and may they that look to you in salvation receive their inheritance. Comfort them and hear the calls of sighing for all of the black community. Heal hurting hearts as only you can, Father. Break these sinful strongholds in our hearts and culture, and flood us with grace and forgiveness. 

For my African American friends, sons in the faith, and faith-family members, remind them that you have not forgotten them, that you are their strong tower and Deliverer. Justice flows from you like a rushing river, and you are making all things right. 

Oh King of Kings, under your providence some of our friends, current and former church members, and men that we have discipled are in law enforcement. Many of them have been summoned to protect and defend some of the very citizens that seek to bring them harm. Their spouses are waiting through the watches of the night as they call out to you, hoping upon hope that their spouses will be spared. Protect and comfort them in this terrible situation, oh Redeemer. Bring this dangerous unrest to naught, for your name’s sake.

For politicians, rulers, and authorities, give wisdom and be their delight. You say in your Word that you give counsel and wisdom, even in sleep. Do it, Lord! Give them words that heal and the spirit of peace.

For pastors and ministry leaders, help us to be peacemakers, shepherds, and healers. Be our portion, oh Father. Help us to point people to the just One who will one day make all things right.    

For the business owners that have lost their livelihoods due to riots, to those that have lost loved ones at the hands of rioters, and to the multitude of people that live in the middle of these city protest zones, make their hearts to delight in you. Calm their fears, sustain them through this pain, and provide for them. Set yourself before them, and help their flesh to dwell in the security of you.     

This current reality in America is horrific, heart breaking, and too much for us to bear on our own. Don’t let us see corruption or be abandoned to Sheol. Use this current calamity to take out hearts of stone and give hearts of flesh for those that do not know you. For those that do know you, draw them near.

Give us eyes of faith and show us the path of life. Make it on earth as it is in heaven. Give us your very presence and the joy that comes only from you. Help us. Hear our cries for help, for the sake of your glory!

In Jesus name, 


We give hope to ourselves and the world around us when we proclaim that this earth is not our home (1 Pet. 2:11-12). We remind ourselves to count all trials as joy (James 1:2), to share in Christ’s suffering (1 Pet. 4:13), and to look forward to an eternal glory that makes this pain pale in comparison (2 Cor. 4:17). Let us lift high a resurrected King Jesus (John 11:25-26), the Man of sorrows (Isa. 53:3), who will one day return on a white horse that will tread on his enemies (Rev. 19). 

The Good Shepherd loves us and walks with us through these trials (Psalm 23) and gives grace to us who desperately depend upon him (James 4:6). Jesus Christ, who has heard all of our laments as our perfect High Priest and has lamented to God the Father on our behalf (Heb. 7:25-28), is coming back. Tell the world about the Christ, who will be the very One to make all things right (Rev. 21:5) by crushing Satan under foot (Rom. 16:20). One day, he will wipe away every tear, and our sorrow shall be no more (Rev. 21:4). May this be our message in the midst of lament—a hope that is not a what, but a Who.

Brad Walker

Brad Walker is the senior pastor at FBC Sparta in Tennessee. He and his wife, Elicia, have four boys. 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