Last Friday I began a new series on the subject of prayer. And as some of you may recall, in my introduction, I openly confessed at that I am not a man to teach you how to pray. I say this because all too often, in my own prayer life, I have a habit of slipping into the rote formulas that we evangelicals often claim to disdain; and I find myself speaking words that have long been stripped of any power or meaning.
But this morning, as I continue to try to reshape my prayer life, I want to share with you the prayer that I wrote in the aftermath of yesterday’s bombing. While I do not suspect that my words will necessarily give voice to your thoughts and fears, I do hope that they might encourage you to confront the One who knows what it is to have metal objects tear through His flesh – the One who knows what it is to bleed.
“On Boston, Bombs and Eight-Year-Old Boys”
Father in Heaven,
you know what it is to have a Son.
You know what it is to watch him bleed.
You have seen the wicked works of our all-too-clever hands
tear through his flesh til it rends to the bone.
And yet …
your experience with your Son
is different than ours
as we wrestle with the death of Martin Richard.
You are the One who exists out of time.
You have written both the beginning and the end.
And because of that,
you see things in a way that we, trapped in time,
do not see.
As your Son gasped for breath,
He did so as One committed to a mission
that would restore your beloved creation.
He did so as One who sees as You see,
as One who knew the end of the story.
But as we look to young Martin
and cling to our own children in fear,
we see no mission in his death.
We see only the senseless violence
that your Son’s life, death and resurrection
were supposed to end.
And so we find ourselves
once again trapped
between the “already” and the “not yet” of your Kingdom.
And while we long to cry out with confidence
that you are the One who Saves,
the only words that seem to ring true in this moment
are the cries of the ancient Israelites:
“How Long, O Lord?” How long …
 The cry and the echoes of “How long, O Lord” can be found throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. For a few notable, concrete examples, please see: Psalms 13:1-2, 35:17 and 94:3 as well as Habbakuk 1:2.