WHY NOT START WITH PRAYER?

As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you.  I Samuel 12:23  (NIV)

During the Enlightenment, the philosophes and many religious leaders embraced the “omnicompetence of human reason” (Alister E. McGrath).  What a disillusionment it must have been to see the human and moral failure of the French Revolution and intellect—even coupled with high ideals.

And then the Romanticists turned to feelings to liberate the human spirit.  The imagination was freed to soar to God, to turn to him to touch man’s deepest needs.  But feelings, too, were insufficient to bring us into satisfying, consistent relationship with the divine.

The Marxists propagated the notion that religion is a creation of the people and their response to social and economic conditions.  Essentially, addressing economic and social ills would, in time, eliminate spiritual hunger.

And so on…

Today, there are so many issues with few policy statements or resolutions proposed that do not in some way inflict harm on someone or some group.  It’s as if imposition of My Truth (whatever that may be) will resolve the suffering, the marginalization, the lostness we see in so many places around the world.

Several years ago, I was at a religious conference that was designed to explore problems in the church.  Guest speakers (recognized experts in their fields) dissected the concerns from every imaginable position but suggested no strategic plan or resolution.  During the break, I was so frustrated, I approached a couple of the “experts” and pointed out that these were the same issues with the same arguments that we’d heard at the last conferences.  Had it occurred to anyone that, since we don’t seem to have answers, perhaps we should gather to pray?  To seek Divine guidance?  To ask God for healing and wisdom?  There was dead silence until one of the clergy standing nearby said, “You can use my church.”

Yes, people are being killed, there is destruction in our land, there are divisions, in some places anarchy appears to threaten, but are we spending as much time praying about these situations as we are talking and grieving about them?  Are we praying for our leaders as much as we criticize them?  Are we helping our neighbors as much as we judge them?  Do we have a pile of rocks at the ready to stone those sinners among us whom we disapprove (before we look into our own hearts)?

God forbid that I should sin by ceasing to pray for you.  It’s a start.

Father, you have gifted us with an unspeakably wonderful country.  We’ve made some bad choices. We haven’t loved our neighbors as ourselves.  We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart.  We are truly sorry and we humbly repent, for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us and heal our land; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.

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