The minute you devote yourself to doing justice, you are liable to become overwhelmed, confused, discouraged, bitter, and/or arrogant. Thankfully the fight belongs to God himself and the primary way he wants us to join him in making things right is to petition him about our concerns.
Through prayer we get the encouragement and direction we need to do justice with courage and wisdom, rooted in love.
1. Petition Prayer for Justice
Psalm 72 is David’s prayer for Solomon, and also ultimately applies to Jesus’ kingdom of justice. However, this Psalm has been used throughout the centuries to pray for political leaders to act with justice so they will help the people under their authority flourish.
I suggest praying through the entire Psalm daily and applying it to your situation. Or if that is too tricky, use just the first two verses:
Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness. May he judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice. Psalm 72:1,2
2. Lament Prayer Against Injustice
Psalm 94 is helpful if your civic or political leaders are actively doing injustice. It is a lament, a cry to God when you see the opposite of what you’ve been praying for with Psalm 72.
You can also just pray the first verses of Psalm 94 to guide the rest of your prayer
The Lord is a God who avenges. O God who avenges, shine forth. Rise up, Judge of the earth; pay back to the proud what they deserve. Psalm 94:1,2
There are other passages in Psalm 94 that may be helpful. V4-7 can help you lay out your specific accusation against injustice:
They pour out arrogant words; all the evildoers are full of boasting. They crush your people, Lord; they oppress your inheritance. They slay the widow and the foreigner; they murder the fatherless. They say, “The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob takes no notice.” Psalm 94:4-7
Also v16-19 can help you express frustration at the complacency in society and the anxiety that you feel:
Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will take a stand for me against evildoers? Unless the Lord had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death. When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. Psalm 94:16-19
3. Prayer for Protection
Psalm 71 can be used to pray for protection for yourself or others who are suffering oppression.
Again, the first two verses may be enough to guide the rest of your prayer:
In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me; turn your ear to me and save me. Psalm 71:1,2
V20 looks forward to Jesus’s resurrection, but can be used to pray for hope when all is hopeless:
Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. Psalm 71:20
4. Praise Prayer When Justice is Done
Psalm 9 gives full praise to God when we see an injustice get corrected. The entire Psalm is awesome to pray through, especially with friends, however v4 is a God portion to committ to memory
I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds Psalm 9:1
How Should We Pray
Now that we have Psalms for justice, injustice, and protection how should we use them? Jesus teaches us how to pray in Luke 18 and it applies well to talking to God about justice.
A. Always Pray and Don’t Give Up
In Luke 18:1-8 Jesus tells a parable to teach his disciples how to pray with hope. The parable is about a widow who is being oppressed and asks an unrighteous judge to hear her case. Because of her persistence the judge promises to give her justice.
Jesus tells us that we should be as persistent as the widow, and our righteous God will hear us. Jesus ends his teaching with the warning that when he comes back, he wants to see that we are still faithful. As v1 says, “should always pray and not give up”.
B. Avoid Self-Righteousness
In Luke 18:9-14 pairs his teaching about persistent prayer with a warning about self-righteous prayer. He tells another parable about two men who went to a temple to pray. One thanked God for not being like the sinners he sees around him. The other asked God for forgiveness for sinning.
Two of the types of sinners the first man prayed about oppressed others – “the robbers” and “tax collectors”. While the man who asked for forgiveness was perpetuating injustice himself – he was a tax collector for Rome, the colonial power.
As we pray through the Psalms asking for God’s justice, intervention, and protection we need to examine ourselves and ask for forgiveness in the ways we participate in oppression.
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