Guest post by Lauren Bowden.

The first prayer in the Bible comes not from a person, but from Abel’s spilled blood. A man kills his brother, and the blood cries out on behalf of the injustice and betrayal. There is a spiritual primacy given to the prayers that arise when creation groans and when injustice occurs. You can dehumanize and disembody those who suffer into oblivion, into forgotten blood on the ground, but God hears them. Urgently. And First. Do we?

The first claimed people-group in the Bible, the chosen ones, the Israelites, are chosen precisely because God hears their cries of enslavement in Egypt. There is a spiritual primacy given to those who experience oppression, violence, and mistreatment of the hands of their brothers and sisters. They have God’s ear. Urgently. And First. Do they have ours?

In Exodus, God split the sea for the hurting, the chosen, for those who were unsure they mattered. Special treatment? You bet your ass. The last are first in the Kingdom of God.
We must split the systemic barriers so that our brothers and sisters can walk down a street at night without being stopped and harassed. So that they can go through an education system that functions as more than a failure factory, or worship without fear of being shot or mocked.
I do not know if the people who put Confederate flags at Ebeneezer and the King Center consider themselves religious. I do know that my religion informs my outrage. And I believe God hears the prayers of Black America. For God, black lives don’t just matter. They are chosen. Primary. First.

Lord in your mercy, please, hear our prayers. Our groaning. Soften us so that we can hear each other. Because Jesus, we really need an Exodus out of this mess.