A Prayer for Healing, Restorative Grace

CJ James | April 22, 2024

CJ James offers some reflections on his prayer offered in worship on April 7, 2024

I am convinced that an invitation to God’s loving embrace and beloved community is first an invitation to love yourself just as you are, imperfections and all. In that sense, the prayer below can be read as a genuine plea on my own behalf for a peace that I am still searching and longing for. It would be much simpler if it were a one-time fix that never changed, but it seems, in my experience at least, to be more of an ebb and flow. There are seasons of deep love, joy, laughter, and comfort riddled with times of deep sorrow, dejection, hopelessness and depression. For that reason, I decided to start the prayer with thankfulness for the beautiful gift of community.

Our time at Central Baptist has been extremely healing. While churches should be beacons for God’s inescapable love, they can oftentimes be places where the true vices of our species: racism, xenophobia, sexism, etc. get baptized in an unholy idolization and bastardization of the true living God revealed in the liberating love of Jesus Christ.

After escaping the stagnant faith of my upbringing, I had all but written off ever being a part of a church. Hannah (my wonderful, amazing wife) expressed that she wanted to find a church. In the back of my mind, I thought I would go a few times until she got comfortable and then slowly try to wiggle my way out of it. What I experienced was a testament to the ever-present and living God. A church who takes seriously the radical call to love and liberation from Jesus is a stark contrast to any community I had yet experienced. I know that we all have room for improvement, and to be sure, there are things that Central Baptist could change or do better, but it is hard to put into words how much of a saving grace it has been for us.

I chose the metaphor of a river carving a path through stones partly because I believe it is amazing that something so pleasant and life-giving can cut through something as firm and unforgiving as stone. Watching this process take place would be impossible due to how long it takes, so it also validates our feelings of impatience at the massive presence of injustice in the world.    

Finally, I wanted to end where we began with the beloved community. We may not ever have it all figured out, and we may not even be able to make it alone, but we are not alone. And regardless of the circumstances we entered this world with, regardless of the mistakes we have made and continue to make, and regardless of whether or not we believe it, we all deserve to be a part of God’s radical loving and liberating community.                

Dear God, thank you for the inexplicably beautiful gift of your community. A community that couldn’t be more at odds with the status quo of the society we find ourselves in. In a world that treats hoarding wealth as a virtue, you remind us that those who serve you are servants of all in an effort towards solidarity, equality, and justice. In a world that distributes forgiveness differently depending on your race, gender identity, and wealth, you remind us that your everlasting grace flows like a river, slowly but surely carving a path of peace and restoration through stones of stubbornness and hatred. In a world that tells us we are alone, your mighty spirit connects us together to share laughter and tears in their proper seasons. Please let the truth of your grace that we all deserve to be a part of this beloved community seep deep within our bones.


3 months


As a Baptist church affirming the liberty of conscience, we recognize each individual's right to his or her own opinion and welcome your comments, positive or negative. We strive for communication that invites a respectful and personal exchange of opinions and thoughts. This is often not possible through running dialogues in our comment section. To respect the dignity of all persons, we may delete comments that contain profanity, hate speech, or threatening language.

There are no comments

Post a comment

Central Baptist Church