Thursday, January 13, 2011

So Now It Is Time to Pray, Is It?

After the tragedy of the shootings in Tucson AZ there were calls to pray coming from many quarters, including the Congress of the United States, moments of "silence" etc. --- as reported by various news releases throughout the nation

It never fails to happen -- each time there is some kind of a tragedy in the United States in which a number of lives are lost under certain conditions, then there is quite a bit of attention given to the subject of prayer. And having been a pastor for over 50 years, I not only attempt to respond by praying myself, but also urge my congregational members to pray as well.

The last few days have seen the media dominated by the tragedy in Tucson AZ. Terms such as "thoughts and prayers" are often stated. The president and his wife were featured as leading the nation in a "moment of silence" -- you know, a generic term that no person should find offensive as opposed to an announcement, "And now the president is going to lead us in a time of prayer to Almighty God through His Son, Jesus Christ!"

But have you ever considered what God's response might be in these incidents as many say, "We need to pray!" This is especially an interesting phenomenon in a nation that has "officially" placed "No Trespassing" signs up so that the Creator of this universe -- the One Who gives and sustains all life will know clearly where He is permitted to be present and acknowledged and where the off limits territories are located!

Nearly 50 years ago God was informed that He was no longer welcome in the public school systems of this country nor was His inspired Word (the Bible) to be read in the hearing of students attending public schools. I state it this way because the infamous Supreme Court decision on the issue amounted to exactly that! This debacle of the first magnitude was further broadened as years passed and in a sense "refined" as students in graduation exercises were told to make no reference to God or Jesus Christ in the course of delivering their remarks, etc. Many hailed the decision as a great advancement and a very good thing -- there were even a number of thoughtless church leaders that praised this decision!

I remember well a high school student in one of our youth groups telling me that someone put a sign up on the school bulletin board after the Supreme Court's major blunder -- the sign said, "In case of nuclear attack the ban against prayer in this school will be temporarily suspended!" He further told me the sign was not up very long until a member of the school administration quickly tore it down and presumably placed it in the notorious "round file!"

While very few are recognizing it, we are duplicating the behavior patterns of an ancient kingdom which existed over 26 centuries ago in the Middle East. It was known as the kingdom of Judah, inhabited by Israelite people. For some time they were on a course leading to disaster due to persistent ethical, moral and spiritual corruption. Faithful prophets in those times sounded the warning of impending judgment if there was not widespread repentance on the part of the people and their leaders, religious and political. But the prophets for the most part were written off as a bunch of wild-eyed religous fanatics who were candidates for the insane asylum, if there were such an institution -- or better, execute them and feed their bodies to the dogs!

Eventually judgment did come, but not without ample warning by means of calamities of various kinds as well as the faithful appeals right up to the end stated by the prophets. And when a rather universal appeal for people to pray was made throughout the nation, here is how God responded --

"As the thief is ashamed when he is found out, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they and their kings and their princes, and their priests and their prophets, saying to a tree, 'You are my father,' and to a stone, 'You gave birth to me.' For they have turned their back to Me, and not their face. But in the time of their trouble they will say, 'Arise and save us.' But where are your gods that you have made for yourselves? Let them arise, if they can save you in the time of your trouble; for according to the number of your cities are your gods, O Judah. Why will you plead with Me? You all have transgressed against Me," says the LORD. (Jeremiah 2:26-29).

In light of the preceding quote and a look at the present ethical, moral and spiritual condition of our republic at the present time, will you dare to ponder a bit on how God is viewing us and what kind of response or lack thereof might be taking place?

"Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not hear them in the time that they cry out to Me because of their trouble." --- Jeremiah 11:14

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