In October of 2017, I announced about United? We Pray—a new podcast that I began to call for prayer about racial strife among Christians. By God’s grace, U?WP has been doing just that—praying—since that announcement. I had the joy of hosting the first two seasons with my sister and friend, Trillia newbell. Since then, the U?WP team has changed and expanded (you can hear more about that here). Yet our purpose remains the same: On the podcast, we aimed not to just talk about prayer but to actually pray.
As U?WP begins to write articles, we thought it would be good to begin with the first article that started it all—the one from Oct. 2017, in which I first shared about U?WP. Given all that could be said and done about race and local churches, why start a podcast about prayer? Here are four reasons.
1. The Bible Commands prayer.
The last few years, decades, and centuries make clear that trials and complexities of race and racism often exceed our own wisdom and strength. God has limitless wisdom and strength, but we don’t. Yet in the Bible, when people realized their limitations, they often did something—they prayed. They prayed to the God who commands his children to cast their anxieties upon him because he cares for them (1 Pet. 5:7); the God who says “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask” (James 1:5).
The mandate throughout the Scriptures is clear: God’s people are to be a praying people. We must do more than pray if we are to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, but we cannot do less. The reality is that the unity of the Christians is no light matter. Satan has been after it since day one, and the early church in Acts 6 shows us this much—there we find an ethnic conflict threatening to divide the church. That division matters because Jesus said that the church’s unity would testify to his coming (John 13:35; 17:21). In short, the church has an adversary who hates its unity (Eph. 6:12). Christians war against him and his kingdom on our knees.
And so we pray.
2. Church history commends prayer.
Prayer is not a new thing. If you look throughout church history, you’ll find that the saints prayed. I’ll pick one example from history that inspired this podcast. In 1898, Francis Grimke, a black pastor in Washington D.C. preached a sermon called, “God and Prayer as Factors in the Struggle.” In this sermon, Grimke called the believers of his day to pray because “It is a serious matter for a nation when any body of people, however few, betake themselves not to revolt but to prayer.”
When we pray to God about matters of race, unity, and the church, we are echoing the cries of Christians through the centuries. To join in on those prayers is a privilege.
And so we pray.
3. Pastors know about prayer.
I am not a scholar; I don’t claim to be an expert on these difficult topics (that’s why I invite my smart friends to come and do the talking!) That said, I am a pastor, so I should know something about prayer. So the goal of this podcast isn’t to pontificate, but rather to encourage weary Christians to pray during racial struggles; this podcast is not so much about finding solutions to racial strife, though we will pray for as much, as it is about recognizing the difficulty in finding those solutions and taking that difficulty before God almighty. We’ll have brief(ish) conversations on the podcast between one another, conversations horizontally if you will, but the most important conversation taking place will be the vertical conversation.
And so we pray.
4. Christians agree on prayer.
Christians do not agree on how to respond to racial strife, but all Christians agree that we ought to rely upon God in prayer. Prayer humbles us and re-centers us. Prayer inspires hope, something in high demand these days, and ought to give us a holy excitement that God will do “more than we ask, think, or imagine” (Eph. 3:20-21). The reality that ought to stupefy us with gladness in prayer and make us zealous to pray is that God is more eager to give than we are to receive. We potentially have the entire freight of heaven behind our efforts if we would but ask.
And so we pray.
My Hope for the Podcast
So I started this podcast with the hope that it would encourage people to continue to rely upon God in prayer during racial struggles. My hope is that Christians would leave edified, challenged, and encouraged to pray for unity in their own churches and the Spirit of unity would better permeate their whole lives. So, if a Christian listens and is encouraged to more faithfully pray for their own congregation, I’m a happy man. My hope is that you would not only listen to the podcast, but that you’d pray with us, because it’s clear that we need God’s help.
Details & How You Can Help
You can check out our Subscribe & Support page to see five ways you can help us, but there’s one way I want to highlight here—prayer.
Please do pray for our work. Pray that we would stick to what what we’re aiming to do.
Pray God would bring about unity, faith, and justice because of our efforts.
Pray that our hope would remain fixed on him.
The unity of Christians across ethnic lines is in question now in the minds of many brothers and sisters, but a day is coming when we’ll never question it again. Until that day, will you pray with us?