Loving, gracious Father,  

We are living in a season of hate. In these days of violence men’s hearts spill into speech and actions with an unbridled boldness our generation has never experienced before. Angry crowds march in streets, accusation and slander fill social media, and nations go to war or abandon them, unconcerned with the horrors left behind. In Revelation 6:4 we see a rider on a red horse to whom you give authority to “take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another.”

We want to believe a lie that says we are good. That we love peace and love our fellow man. But what causes violence on earth comes from within us, not without. All it takes for men to slay one another is for the sustaining power of Your peace to be pulled back, and the devastating nature of our fallen hearts is exposed.  

God, we don’t want to admit that we hate. But in Matthew 5:21-23 You describe the heart that would murder as one that is angry and hurls insults. When filled with anger over politics or taxes or school board decisions or traffic or public health requirements we want to label our anger as righteous while acting in very unrighteous ways. You call this hate.  

We fill our minds with hours of radio and news that may align with some of our cultural values, yet, it is filled with insults, slander, and accusation against our fellow man. You call this hate. You call it hate because the politician we call lire, or enemy, or traitor, You call image bearer. The person we may call enemy You call us to bless. The person we desire to see brought low You ransomed with your Son’s life so that they may be lifted up. We spend our week insulting those we with whom we disagree, slandering their motives as if we have the power to know their hearts, robbing them of the dignity due Your image stamped on them. Then we come to church to sing praises of sweet water, from the same well that was only hours before bursting forth bitterness. These things ought not to be.  

Let us see our hearts as You do. Let us be broken by the reality that the violence ripping our world apart spews from our own hearts. Let us come to understand that the poison in our land is as much from our own lips as any one else’s; the venom of adders spoken carelessly because we think we are right. But You did not give us the authority to tear down our fellow image bearer. You did not place us here to be the rider of the red horse. You did not give us tongues for insult or slander. You did not give us hearts for hate.  

You have called us to bless those who persecute us, to love our enemies, to walk humbly before You. You began this good work in us when you saved us. You called us when we still hated You. You broke through that hard heart. Turn again our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh that beat with your compassion. Reveal to us where hate is still lodged so that we may confess it to You. Turn it to love for those who are still in darkness, and may we use our hearts and our tongues to proclaim Your gospel of grace for the many who are trapped in the darkness of hate. May we love because You first love us. In Jesus’ name and for His sake, amen.