Please note: this prayer and reflection was shared during the prayer time in worship today at Custer Road.
October is Domestic Violence awareness month. As an act of prayer this morning, we unite our hearts and minds with those who suffer brokenness within their most intimate relationships. We know God’s own heart breaks at every sign of violence and pray that the compassion of Jesus may shine forth through the hurt and pain of so many. The statistics regarding domestic abuse are overwhelming:
- · 95% of the victims of domestic violence are women
- · One in four married women suffer abuse from their partners—this number is too low because most abuse goes unreported
- · Most abuse occurs on Sundays
- · Family violence is the leading cause of death for women aged 15-44.
- · Boys who witness domestic violence in the home are 1500% more likely to commit it themselves
- · 70% of children of abused women are physically abused, and 20% are sexually abused
- · Number of Texas family violence incidence in 2012: nearly 200,000, an increase of 11.5% from 2011
- · Highest numbers of victims were aged 20-24
- · Of Dallas, Collin, and Tarrant Counties, Plano ranked 6th in reported cases—just over 1,000
- o McKinney: nearly 800
- o Allen and Frisco: nearly 400 each
We must stop asking, “Why doesn’t she leave?” and instead ask, “Why do you hurt her?”
Why is this something we hear about in the church? Scripture is clear: God is on the side of those who suffer. So must the church be also, lest we are complicit in the violence. Because abuse occurs across racial, economic, and social barriers. As the church we need to stand against violence in our families. As the Body of Christ, we cannot look the other way when our fellow members and friends are hurting. Hear these comforting and challenging words of scripture:
“My eyes flow and don’t stop. There is no relief until the Lord looks down from the heavens and notices. My eyes hurt me because of what’s happened to my city’s daughters. My enemies hunted me down like a bird, relentlessly, for no reason. They caught me alive in a pit and threw stones at me; water flowed over my head. I thought: I’m finished. I call on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit. Hear my voice. Don’t close your ear to my need for relief, to my cry for help. Come near to me on the day I call to you. Say to me, ‘Don’t be afraid.’ My Lord! Plead my case, redeem my life. Lord, look at my mistreatment; judge my cause” (Lamentations 3:49-59).
Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid of those who kill the body but can’t kill the soul. Instead, be afraid of the one who can destroy both body and soul in hell. Aren’t two sparrows sold for a small coin? But not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father knowing it already. Even the hairs of your head are all counted. Don’t be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:28-31).
Let us pray. We pray for victims that they may know God’s presence and love, as well as our own; and for victimizers, that they too may know of God’s power to break hard heartedness and heal all brokenness.
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we enjoin your divine mercies. Lord, why do we suffer? Why do we hurt? Shall our only answer be the eternal abyss of the cosmos? Shall our only answer be the whirlwind of unknowing which engulfed Job? Why do the wicked flourish while the righteous waste away? I am left speechless, left with the words, “I will trust in you, O God.”
God, we ask for the sending of your healing Spirit, who came to us through Jesus, as he breathed upon his disciples. This Spirit gathered your people, to be warmed by the fire of divine presence. By this warmth may the victims of domestic violence be healed and taken into your care. You are our Anointed One, the one who also anoints us and points us to the love of God. Grant all those who suffer your healing peace. In the name of our Creator, our Liberator, our Resurrection and Life, we pray. And as he taught us, so now..
(Prayers adapted from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals. Thanks to Bishop McKee, Mike Baughman, and Stefanie Hayes, who contributed helpful information.)