By Janet Thompson, Crosswalk.com
Far too often, we hear Police Chiefs tearfully making statements like this one:
“We are heartbroken to make this announcement of the shooting of three of our officers. We ask for your support and prayers for our fellow officers and their families as we try to cope with yet another tragic event in our police family.”
I understand the toll this job can take on the officers and their families. I was so proud of my handsome father when he put on his California Highway Patrolman uniform and badge. Until the morning I woke up to wails and sobs coming from our living room filled with people.
Even as a 10-year-old, I knew intuitively my father was gone. When he kissed me goodbye as he left for work that evening, it would be the last time I ever saw him alive. A reality our family lived with every day, but one we never thought would happen to us—until it did.
My father’s “last watch” was 63 years ago and yet the memory never fades. Embedded deep in my heart is the tragedy of my beloved thirty-six-year old father being shot in the heart with his own gun by a suspect who wrestled with him during a traffic stop. It was national news. The nation mourned with us.
Honoring Service and Sacrifice
The job of a police officer is to run toward danger, at the risk of his or her own life, to save and protect strangers. It once was a noble respected profession, but today’s culture has come to expect that many will die senselessly. Their death barely makes the local news.
I know many people prayed for our family. The year after my father’s murder, I became a Christian at a church camp when a counselor sat on my camp cot and asked, “I know you’ve lost your earthly father. Would you like a heavenly Father who will never leave or forsake you?”
Let’s pray for the police officers you know and those you don’t know. Those who’ve helped you and even those who might have cited you or given you a ticket, or worse. It seems it’s becoming a less respected or appreciated profession today, and yet brave men and women are still putting on the uniform to answer the call when you’re in trouble.
Here are four prayers to pray for police officers and their families.
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1. Prayer for Protection of Police Officers
Lord, we don’t know why you have implanted in the hearts of brave men and women to choose a profession that requires them to walk into danger and put their own life on the line to stop lawlessness and crime. You’ve given them a willingness to enforce the law to protect the communities where they serve. Are they fearless? Unintimidated? Thrill seekers? Or do they truly love their neighbor more than themselves, and want to do their part in justice for all?
Only you know for sure Lord what motivates them, but we do know they need a band of angels surrounding them with a hedge of protection. Lord, they face evil and the tough parts of life every day. They see the worst of people and people at their worst. Their work tools are weapons.
I pray Lord for their safety as they walk up to a car or house or unknown situation never knowing what danger awaits them. If they know you Lord, remind them to say their own prayer of protection and ask you to intervene against any foe. Perhaps something like David prayed, “I come to you for protection, O Lord my God. Save me from my persecutors—rescue me!” (Psalm 1:7 NLT).
And when they emerge safe and victorious, Father, as David did when he was rescued from Saul, give them a heart to give you the glory. If they don’t know you as their Savior, become real to these officers. Let them know you took the bullet for them. Amen.
But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
2 Samuel 22:1-4 NLT
David sang this song to the Lord on the day the Lord rescued him from all his enemies and from Saul. He sang: “The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. He is my refuge, my savior, the one who saves me from violence. I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and he saved me from my enemies.”
2 Samuel 22:31 NLT
“God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.”
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2. Prayer for Officers' Wisdom and Guidance
Lord, police officers’ days are filled with uncertainties and unknowns as they make quick and often life-changing or life-threatening decisions. Help them to be wise and invoke all their training and experience before moving or speaking. When they have the opportunity to investigate a situation before taking action and engaging, give them patience not to rush to judgment or anger.
If they discern a quick decision or movement is required, direct them to move swiftly but safely. If they need to wait for backup or ask for help, don’t let them be prideful or rash, but consider the best outcome for everyone involved.
For those who have a relationship with you, remind them that when in doubt you’re always there for them, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” (James 1:5 NLT)
Guide them with their conscience and their code of conduct. Help them remember the protocol and give them the courage to do the next right thing for the best outcome.
When they need to take orders from their chain of command, give them humble but steady hearts and guard their words.
Give them compassion when they determine there is no ill intent but also a keen awareness for deception. Remind them that they may not have all the evidence to make a final decision. Help them to see the good in people, and don’t let their hearts become hardened and calloused by the challenging situations they encounter daily. Amen.
I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes.
Colossians 1:9 NLT
So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding.
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3. Prayer for Police Officers’ Families
Father you’ve so graciously given two families to every police officer: their personal or extended family and their professional family.
To their personal families, please give strength to endure the demanding schedule of a police officer. Provide understanding and flexibility for the times when their officer isn’t available for special occasions because police officers’ shifts can be anytime day or night seven days a week, even on holidays, weekends, and birthdays. It’s disappointing when their officer has to work and they want him or her home.
Instill the family with compassion to not take it personally when he or she doesn’t want to talk about their work and give the family intuition to know when their officer needs the space to decompress when returning home.
May the family never minimize the significance of a police officer’s work. Let home be a place of solace when he or she returns safely but perhaps scarred by what they’ve seen and experienced.
Lord, it takes a special kind of love and patience to live with police officers. Remind the family members to pray for their officer daily and to let him or her know they’re prayed over, appreciated, and loved.
Help family members to be alert and responsive when their officer is showing signs of stress, overwork, and trauma; and encourage them to seek help. Likewise, Father, surround the family with those who will notice the tenuous relationships that can develop within the family members.
Father, these precious and brave families make sacrifices few understand. Fill their homes with love, peace, joy, grace, and closeness because they support a police officer even at their own sacrifice.
Lord, every officer also has a close work-family bond. They’re a team who have each other’s backs and depend on one another for support, encouragement, skill, and camaraderie in facing the challenges of the job.
Lord, bring unity and synergy to these men and women as they guard each other’s lives while working together to keep the streets of their communities safe and free of crime.
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, “Peace be within you.”
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4. Prayer for Mourners of Fallen Officers and Those Lost in the Line of Duty
Father, to those who’ve been there, nothing compares to the heart-wrenching screams of “Officer down!” Except perhaps the torment of a family opening the door to see two fellow officers of their officer standing with grim faces and tears welling in their eyes as the family falls to its knees crying, “No, God, please no!
Or maybe you hear them wailing, “Why God, how could you do this when they were only trying to protect our community?” And even, “Lord where were you when they were dying?”
Lord, how does anyone comfort this family? Like Jeremiah, they wail, “My grief is beyond healing; my heart is broken” (Jeremiah 18:18 NLT). There are no human answers to satisfy or soothe their agonizing wounds of grief, anger, and sorrow.
Only you can Lord. Psalm 147:3 assures us that “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” And Psalm 34:18 NLT confirms, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”
We beg of you to surround them with love. Bring others to their side who have experienced their pain and understand the deep ache in their heart and will pray with and for them. Keep away those who patronize and tell them everything will be all right, because for this family, it will never be all right again.
Father, you know the fellow officers who mourn with the family, especially those who were with the fallen officer. Remove from them the repeated nightmares of asking themselves what they could have done differently or why wasn’t it them in the coffin.
Lord you know, that the death of their fellow officer will always haunt them and the memory will never fade. Father guide them to the help they need to recover from what they’ve seen and don’t let it cause division among the unit or place any in danger with fear and hesitancy.
Guide them in keeping their focus on work when they’re on duty and help guard their minds from the “what-ifs” when they try to sleep at night. Help them rest and renew their resolve to do their job to the best of their ability.
Father, we know you mourn with both these families. Give them whatever they each need in their lives. Walk beside them Father. Draw them into your embrace and fill them with a peace that passes all understanding. For those who don’t know you, open their eyes to seek you, the only source of relief from their anguish. Let them feel your presence grieving with them. Your tears. Your hugs. Your love. Amen.
Proverbs 14:13 NLT
Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains.
Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds, rejoice before him—his name is the Lord. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.
We Honor Our Police Officers with Respect and Appreciation
Use respectful words when talking about and to police officers. Thank them for their service. Pray when you see police officers patrolling or a police car on the road.
Don’t simply pray for yourself that they don’t pull you over, but pray because you don’t know what awaits them the next time they do make a traffic stop. When you hear a siren, pray.
We never know when we, or our loved ones, might be the life they’re rushing to save.
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