"Praying for Local Law Enforcement" - Todd Pheifer
I do my best to avoid making assumptions, though I probably fail every single day and make them anyway. There are many instances where we are called to empathize with others, and we should certainly make a concerted effort to understands the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of our neighbors. The difficulty with empathy is that it has limits. Perhaps it is an oversimplification, but I operate under the general assumption that if I understand what is going on in someone else’s head, it may only be by accident. Even if I have an identical experience to someone else, who is to say whether we processed our feelings the same way? If you have ever been to an emergency room, you may have been asked to rate your pain level on a scale of 1 to 10. Is my 7 the same as your 7?
One of the core tenets of Kingdom Causes Bellflower is to pray for the peace and prosperity of the city. That concept of peace is often elusive, as the struggles of humanity can lead to ongoing episodes of conflict. Do I understand the struggles of my neighbor, or can I only make assumptions? I was recently at a Los Angeles Dodgers game, and it happened to be Law Enforcement Appreciation Night. The event reminded me of our desire for peace, but also the complexity of human relations and how anger and frustration can be daily challenges for some of our neighbors. How do we balance interpersonal conflict with a desire for order in a complicated culture?
The season of Lent is a time for reflection, and an opportunity for us to expectantly pray for God’s kingdom to come on this earth, as it is in heaven. Our prayers can be expressed in many forms, and it is crucial that we lift up all the key groups in our community by name. This includes law enforcement, who daily put themselves in difficult and dangerous situations as they seek to promote peace on our streets.
There is no way to tactfully state that law enforcement can have a complicated relationship with neighborhoods, and conflicting media coverage can make it hard for us to discern the full story. We cannot ignore what has happened in the past, but God calls for us to seek reconciliation in every corner of this world. At the risk of oversimplifying again, I seek to maintain the basic mindset that I have no idea what it is like to walk in certain types of shoes, and that includes people in law enforcement. This same philosophy is a framework that I apply to a variety of vocations, life situations, and experiences. We should seek to understand, but at the same time work to maintain an attitude of humility in how we process our knowledge. When in doubt, assume something is a lot harder or more complicated than you think it is.
HOW TO PRAY:
If you happen to see one of our brothers and sisters in law enforcement today, offer a prayer for safety, wisdom, and grace as they interact with the public. You may even think about walking up to someone in uniform and asking them if they have any prayer requests.
At the same time, pray for neighbors that they may be able to find ways to build stronger relationships with our civil servants. Peace and prosperity happens through prayer, but it can also start with a simple conversation.
Scripture: John 15:13
About the Author: Todd Pheifer is the Development Director at Kingdom Causes Bellflower and has worshiped at Bethany Church since 1994.