Praying for the Police

For those of us feeling helpless as we watch the roiling tension over law enforcement destroy so many lives, both blue and black, prayer may be the best thing we can offer

My brother is a Christian. For him, being a cop is the way he feels best able to serve God and his neighbor. Since we live far apart I don’t see my brother much, yet he’s been on my mind a lot with the recent fatal shootings by and of police officers. So when my own county sheriff recently invited my community to come pray for and with our local law enforcement officers and other public safety officials, I knew I had to go.

 

The day I spent riding shotgun in a cop car is one I’ll never forget.

It wasn’t so much the thrill of going on calls, the wailing of the siren or “booking ’em.” (Besides, I’m pretty sure only one person was booked that day.) The real marvel was in watching my big brother do the work he’s called to do.

My brother and I haven’t lived near one another since he joined the military when I was a little kid. But I remember when he was still in high school and he loved riding around with the cops in our small town as part of a program that let qualified students do on-the-job training.

That day I rode a shift with him, I recognized this was a true calling. The incident that stays with me involved a complaint about an elderly man who was making threats to others and himself. We pulled up to a trailer and found a skinny, unkempt man raving outside. My brother ordered me to stay in the car, but I cracked the window open to hear what was going on. With a steady presence and soothing voice, addressing the man with deference and respect, my brother calmed him. Within seconds of gently cuffing him, he then pulled from somewhere on the man a hefty-sized knife. The man ranted all the way to the station and through booking, yet my brother’s composure never broke.

My brother is a Christian. For him, being a cop is the way he feels best able to serve God and his neighbor. Since we live far apart I don’t see my brother much, yet he’s been on my mind a lot with the recent fatal shootings by and of police officers. So when my own county sheriff recently invited my community to come pray for and with our local law enforcement officers and other public safety officials, I knew I had to go.

The vigil drew an impressive number of folks for a small, rural county like ours. (Population: 32,000.) The plain, low building that houses the sheriff’s office and jail was too small to hold the crowd, so we gathered outside. Melting under the July afternoon sun, we joined hands and prayed together for our community and those called to protect it.

Sheriff E.W. Viar began the vigil by acknowledging the tension and acts of violence across the country that have been tearing communities apart. “We serve to protect everyone, no matter what race or nationality,” he said. “Please keep us all in your prayers as well as our country. We all do the same for all of you.”

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