Prayer for Charleston, South Carolina

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CHARLESTON, SC – JUNE 19: Mourners continue to pray outside the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church where nine people were shot to death this week June 17, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

On Wednesday night, June 17, 2015, a 21-year-old white man shot and killed nine black people who were attending a Bible study at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. According to media reports, Dylann Roof, who was charged with nine counts of murder, said he wanted to start a race war in the United States.

We are asking that you join with us to pray for:

• The families of the nine shooting victims, which included the pastor of the church, Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney who also was a state senator.

• Members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church where the shootings took place.

• South Carolina’s leaders and its citizens who are still reeling from this horrific event.

• This tragedy to help people draw closer to Jesus Christ and for others (including the shooter) to experience a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

• That the power of non-violence and forgiveness continue to prevail throughout the court proceedings and as Charleston begins the healing process. 

While politicians, civil rights leaders and religious leaders debate the pros and cons of gun control, violence and racism in the United States, the real issue here is “hate,” and that stems from the heart. Jeremiah 17:9 says, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Also, there’s a saying that goes, “The heart of the problem is a problem with the heart.” As witnessed by this tragic situation, extreme hostility left unchecked in one’s heart toward an individual or a people group can lead to tragic – and sometimes deadly – consequences.

In light of this upsetting event, we should take the time to examine ourselves and ask the Holy Spirit to shine His Divine Light on our hearts to reveal any hatred and distrust that we have against an individual or people group, and be willing to make changes as the Lord directs:

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24, NIV

Jesus said that we should love our enemies, including those we hate yet we may not know them personally:

But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. Luke 6:27-29, NLT

Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love.  1 Corinthians 13:13

Granted, we cannot do this on our own, especially if we have somehow been harmed or offended in some way by certain individuals or who or what they represent. Therefore, we must admit our hurt, pain and weakness to God and ask Him to help us in removing the hate from our hearts. We must followed the example left to us by our Only Greatest Example, Jesus Christ:

He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. – 1 Peter 2:23, NLT

As believers in Jesus Christ, our main motivation in all we do, especially in our relationship to others, should be love:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whosever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4: 7-11

May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, provide His mercy and comfort to those who mourn. And as we have experienced the Love of Christ, may we have the faith and courage to share the love of Jesus with others.