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I took a few days off from posting on this blog. The internet never sleeps, so I was feeling the pressure to create new content. I had been working on an observation about sports and character. After the bombing in Boston, I have no enthusiasm for the subject. Maybe it will resurface later.
I’ve decided after Monday’s events I don’t pray enough. With a daughter and son-in-law in the military, I don’t pray enough. My other son-in-law is in law enforcement and over the weekend had to investigate the shooting of one of his colleagues. I don’t pray enough. My other daughter drives many miles each week in her job and my granddaughter has to grow up in a world where events like Monday’s may be normative. You know my conclusion: I don’t pray enough.
Let’s get one thing straight up front – I DO NOT believe prayer is magic. I don’t subscribe to the theology that God counts my prayers and when I’ve offered the required number of prayers my family gets protection. If prayer works that way, I may have prayed enough. I cannot conceive that God decides to answer prayers based upon how many friends are praying, or how many churches have my concern on their prayer lists. Nor do I think God is counting the number of states or countries where people are praying for my particular concern. Prayer is not a math game, with God waiting for me to hit the mandatory minimum number of prayers in order to place a protective shield around the people, or nation, I love. Once we go down the road of that belief, prayer becomes just another “work,” with success going to the person with the most Facebook friends.
In Mark 2:1-12, Jesus heals the man lowered through the roof based upon the faith of his friends. In Mark 5:25-34, Jesus heals based on the faith of one woman alone. But in John 5:1-8, Jesus approaches a man who never expresses any faith, offering a miracle. If you can figure out the math in those stories, let me know.
I just know that when I love someone, or believe in something, I cannot help but to offer that person or that conviction up to God’s care in prayer. I hope that by praying I will join my heart to what God wants done. If other individuals of faith will pray to join, rather than to cajole God, then surely God’s purposes in the world will be furthered. So I need to pray more to join God in peace, reconciliation, forgiveness, and kindness. Maybe if I pray more, God will finally be able to break through my rationalizations and my excuses for the times I justify anger, prejudice, greed, manipulation, bitterness, fear, and hardness of heart. I don’t know if such prayers result in protection for my loved ones, but may it result in my usefulness for the Kingdom. The more people who pray in this way, the less divine protection we need, for we become protection for one another in doing God’s will.
So, believing these things, if I need to pray more, what do I need to pray for.
After Monday, I start with “Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth…” Do I really need to explain this request? God’s will is not always done. We need not look at Boston to know this fact. I thwart God’s will daily, don’t you? Let’s mean what we say when we offer the words from the model prayer and let the kingdom grow from where we are.
And, from the end of Scripture, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus.” Be certain of this: I am not preoccupied with the Second Coming or “Last Things.” I’ve never read a single volume in the Left Behind series and I am as mainstream as a Christian gets. But – if Dr. King was right when he said, “The moral arm of the universe is a vast arc, but it bends toward justice,” do I not want the completion of that arc to happen today? No more children going to bed in fear or hunger. No more African boys impressed as soldiers by brutal men. No more women trafficked as sex slaves. The demons of addiction destroyed. If anything on my Google calendar seems more important than these, perhaps I have lost my empathy for the world, my awareness of my own sin, and any sense of the good things waiting in God.
Today I shall pray more. For friends, for family, for nation, and the world because I cannot help but lift up whom I love to God. But also for Christ’s Kingdom to come and grow in me and my sphere of infleunce until he brings all things to a conclusion in favor of his will.
I’m always glad to know when others connect with my observations.
I look forward to receiving more.
I DON’T PRAY ENOUGH EITHER. I REALLY ENJOYED THE ARTICLE. THANKS
Thanks, Jim. I hope you are doing well.