Tag Archives: prayer

Pray For America Today

Dear Heavenly Father,

This world is a mess, but then you know that already. The USA is in a real mess, and you know that, too, but Jesus teaches us to come to you with our concerns. He taught us to know that you care about us and our concerns, even our petty concerns. Thank you for that reassurance.

Still, we don’t think the state of our nation is a petty concern. Please be patient with us as we lift up to you our worries.

We thank you for the courageous people who followed your guidance to start our nation in 1776, and we thank you for your blessing and guidance ever since. This country has blessed people all around the world, and we give you the glory for that fact. We know that when our nation has been obedient to you, we have been blessed, and when we have wandered, we have simply not been in the right place to be blessed. We see that recent developments are destructive and have taken us far from the center of your will. We see that the troubles which beset us clearly point us to the error of our ways.

We recognize that you gave us our Constitution for the blessing of peace and good order for the people who live here. We thank you for the preservation of peace and good order in our country. We are richly blessed, and many people around the world see this country as a shining light. On our worst days here, many people know that your guidance and care for us makes this place the best place in the world for humans to live.

Father, our contentious election process has stretched over the past 18 months like a vicious, never-ending storm. Please protect us from the pain of this campaign season and endow us with the wisdom to select a good president. We know well that no president can govern with righteousness except you lead him or her, and we ask that our president, now and hereafter, may hear your voice and obey. We pray that all citizens may see your blessing in the process of voting for the next president.

We also ask that regardless of the outcome, we will trust you above all earthly powers for our blessing and protection. We ask your guidance for the one who is selected. We ask your guidance for all who are and will be part of our government. We know that our government exists as your servant to keep peace and good order on earth, and we know that government is the servant of your authority, not a replacement for it. Hear our fervent prayers that you may guide the process of electing the next president, and that you may guide the winner according to your holy and eternal purposes. May all your children turn to you for comfort, not to the election, and may all citizens be able to make peace with the outcome and trust you for everything good.

Forgive us our fractious, embattled behavior, Lord. Forgive us for the sake of Jesus who died for all of us.

In his holy Name we pray,

Amen

For suggestions for further prayer, go to this week’s Prayer Guide.

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When do you Pray for America?

Due to lack of response to a weekly noon call for shared prayer, the scheduled call is being discontinued. Please respond to the poll if you feel comfortable doing so.

I am very concerned about the need for prayer for our nation. The USA is in serious crisis, and the frenzy surrounding the two strongest candidates is evidence of the crisis. I am asking my readers to answer this poll in order to help me understand how people respond to it. If the poll does not express your response, please feel welcome to comment about what you think America needs.

I also invite your comments about the efficacy of prayer. Do you believe that prayer has an effect on anything?

How Do We Begin?

Do you pray for America? Do you want your country to enjoy the blessings of liberty and God’s peace across the fruited plain? Where do you begin with your prayers?

Click here for six ways to pray for America. This is a good place to begin.

If you want to join others in praying for America each Thursday at noon, go here to sign up. After you register, you will receive a confirmation email. Then you will receive an email with the call-in phone number, the conference code, and some suggested prayer points.

On Thursday, at noon, dial the call-in number, enter the conference code, and join others in prayer for our nation. It is wonderful to join with others and know that many people share your concerns, but if you are unable to join the call, pray wherever you are, whenever you can.

Every time and every place is a good time and place to Pray for America.

Sign up today.

By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com. Watch for the release of Thrive! Live Christian in a Hostile World, planned for release in the autumn of 2016.

You Can’t Share God’s Love With a Bigot

A distressing and especially malicious element in public discourse these days is the widespread practice of labelling people instead of discussing the issues. Let anyone betray his or her belief that homosexual behavior is defined as sin in the Bible, and immediately that person is labelled a homophobe. If someone expresses an objection to calling the union of two homosexuals a marriage, that person is labelled a bigot. If anyone suggests that every person’s life is valuable, regardless of color, that person is labelled a racist. As soon as the label is applied, the discussion ends, because calling people names shuts down every possibility that multiple viewpoints may be considered.

This practice is extremely detrimental to the citizens who want to use the right of free speech to discuss touchy topics. There are a lot of topics that should be discussed, but too much of the conversation is stifled when one side or the other begins to apply labels instead of looking at the information and various viewpoints.

It must absolutely be said that people who proclaim themselves as progressive or freethinker are no less likely to engage in this practice than someone who claims the name of conservative or Christian fundamentalist. Name-calling abounds. And wherever you find name-calling you do not find any fruitful conversations. Instead there is often competition to see who runs out of pejorative labels first. That person must slink off the field of verbal combat in disgrace, carrying the last label thrown at him with shame-faced despair, muttering diatribes and vitriol that don’t quite carry the punch of a widely-ratified insult such as islamophobe.

Our nation is being impoverished and starved by the dearth of real political conversation. It may lead to the end of the USA as it was once known. I don’t doubt there will be a country called United States of America a hundred years hence, but it will no more resemble the country we enjoy today than today’s Italy resembles the Roman Empire.

I don’t bring up this subject to beat on people who disagree with me. They have their names for me and my viewpoints, and I recognize that they take comfort from using those names. It makes them feel good about themselves. The ugly names apply to me, and in their minds, by sticking me with the labels, they look better themselves. I am bringing up the subject, however, because some people whose honest views I share have begun to use those ugly, vicious labels themselves.

Some will say that the people who promote abortion, for example, are the real racists, because more black babies than white are aborted annually. They believe that they are making a point that should be considered thoughtfully by the people who have been calling them racists for saying that all lives matter. They are not making any point at all. The person who is zinged with one of these ugly labels does not respond to the logic that led to the use of the label. The wounded party wants to rip that barb out of his flesh and plunge a spear into the enemy before him. He does not want to discuss with his enemy the rules of engagement or the topics in the declaration of war. Name-calling does not make logical points; it prevents any logical points from being discussed.

This is why I say, “You can’t share God’s love with a bigot.” You may be ever so correct in your analysis of the issues and positions when you call your honorable opponent in the conversation a bigot, but as soon as you apply that label, the issues and positions might as well not exist. That label is a personal assault, and the injured party will absolutely respond to both the pain and the anger such an assault creates. If you are a Christian who wants to discuss when human life begins with an abortion advocate, you may be semantically correct to call him a bigot, but you will be committing a serious rhetorical blunder. After you have used that word, you will not be able to say with any credibility, “God loves you.”

What is it that we all want to accomplish when we enter into these discussions, conversations, and shouting matches? I can only speak for myself. I want people to read or hear my words and recognize that I am speaking truth without malice. I may be advocating on behalf of injured parties such as aborted babies, starving families or even the fabric of our culture, but I always want to speak with words that do not have built-in barbs. I really want the points I make to be true to the teachings of Jesus, and I want Jesus to shine through my words. I want the truth, not the insult, to prick the hearts of my opponents.

That is why you may sometimes detect that I have taken a rather convoluted route to get to the truth. I want to sidestep those moments that might lead to name-calling. I never want to weaken or avoid the truth, but I may want to apply it in small bursts rather than in a salvo. I always fear that somehow one of those ugly words will break out despite my best efforts. If it comes my way, I hope to deflect it with words of truth.

My only source of courage and strength in such difficult conversations is prayer. When I know that such a conversation is coming up, I pray about it ahead of time. If the discussion takes place online, I pray as I go, and likewise with unexpected interactions. I believe that is how Paul always had such good answers when he was challenged. I believe it is the reason he wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 that we should “pray without ceasing.”

I am no master of the art of argumentation. (Keep in mind that argumentation is very different from squabbling.) I do think that Carl Medearis is a great model for Christians engaged in the conversations that shape the culture conflict. Medearis has spent his life speaking truth to Muslims, and he has learned a great deal that is valuable to any Christian who wants to speak words of grace, seasoned with salt, whether engaged in advocacy or just sharing the good news. I recommend his book Speaking of Jesus: The art of non-evangelism. I have only just begun reading it, and already I recognize that it is a good guide to help anyone with the problem I am discussing here.

Any Christian who chooses to speak up rather than sit on the sidelines and let the deluge of secularism wipe out religious liberty and public morality will face the challenge to avoid name-calling. It is tough. Because we are human, the battle with our cultural adversaries is predictably accompanied by a battle with our emotions. It is not easy to love someone who readily abandons the battle of ideas and begins to battle with insults, but we must bathe all such conversations in prayer. It is impossible to convince someone you love him and speak as the ambassador of a loving Christ if you have just called him a bigot.

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By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com. Watch for the release of Thrive! Live Christian in a Hostile World, planned for release in the autumn of 2016

Pray a Psalm

Martin Luther and Dietrich Bonhoeffer both assert we are wise to pray the psalms. Bonhoeffer writes with real passion about the fact Jesus would have learned the psalms as his prayer book during his upbringing in Nazareth. It is, therefore, easy to imagine Jesus was praying psalms when the disciples from time to time searched for Jesus and found him praying.

Yesterday, April 17, our pastor preached from Psalm 23, and he repeated Continue reading Pray a Psalm