Throughout the Listen, Learn, Love series, we invite you to pray as a group or by yourself. This guide can be used as a supplement or an alternative activity to using the sermon study guide.
For more prayer prompts, plus scripture readings visit Daily Steps, our weekly devotional.
Within the sermon, Steve Ingold said, “differences are God’s design.” Our human brain, however, is wired to find patterns and predictability in the world so that we can create mental shortcuts. If we didn’t find patterns and predictability in our daily lives, every single decision, from choosing a chair to sit on to opening a drawer would be mental anguish. For most people, sin can creep in and cause our brains to use this valuable decision-making shortcut in ways that stereotype people who look differently than we do. It automatically places them into categories that do not fully reflect who they are in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Our mental shortcuts that work so very well at making functional decisions often break down when people are involved. Without even realizing it we may begin to categorize people and make assumptions based not on who they are or their experiences, but on what they look like. Our brains are wired to take the easy way out, but the Holy Spirit was given to help us navigate these challenges with love.
Over the next few weeks, we are going to explore this issue. It’s going to be hard work and it’s going to be uncomfortable, but it’s going to bring about God’s Kingdom on earth in powerful ways.
In your group or by yourself, spend some time in prayer, asking God to continue the difficult and beautiful work in our hearts so that we can love one another the way He has called us to do. Ask Him for humility. Ask Him to show us the places we want desperately to protect.
Asking for these things is scary and bold. We can be assured, however, that we will never walk into scary and uncomfortable places alone. God is already there, waiting for us. He meets us when we make ourselves vulnerable for His Kingdom, He comes alongside us when we humble ourselves. He makes our way straight when we put others first not knowing what will happen next. We look most like Jesus when we follow his example from Philippians 2:6-11. Pray with confidence that God is leading his church to a place of green pastures and quiet waters. It is a place drastically different from the cultural climate we have found ourselves in today.
Seek God’s face and ask Him to show you the mental shortcuts you are inclined to make when you encounter people who look differently than you.
Pray that God would open your heart to what He wants to teach you — the patterns of thinking that He wants to free you from so that you can fully celebrate the image of God in everyone around you.
As you experience different emotions and feelings regarding racism and unity, ask God for discernment in identifying those that are healthy and those that are paralyzing. Ask God to help you separate “conviction” from “guilt.” (To read more about the difference between the two, you can read this article.)
Ask God to help you seek out stories from people with experiences that are different from yours so that you are better able to see life from another person’s perspective.
Ask God to help you view all of this from a GOSPEL perspective and not a political or economic one.
Pray that God would be with our leaders — in and outside of the Body of Christ — so that we can find unity and peace in our communities.
Ask God how He wants YOU and your group to actively make a difference. You might be asked to engage in difficult conversations, to listen to experiences that might make you uncomfortable, to read authors you might not otherwise, or to research organizations you can support.