My Prayer for 2021

Today I opened the bible to this psalm, a prayer from thousands of years ago that seems particularly relevant today:

Why, LORD, do you stand afar and pay no heed in times of trouble? Arrogant scoundrels pursue the poor; they trap them by their cunning schemes. The wicked even boast of their greed; these robbers curse and scorn the LORD. In their insolence the wicked boast: “God does not care; there is no God.” Yet their affairs always succeed; they ignore your judgment on high; they sneer at all who oppose them. They say in their hearts, “We will never fall; never will we see misfortune.” Their mouths are full of oaths, violence, and lies; discord and evil are under their tongues. they wait in ambush near towns; their eyes watch for the helpless to murder the innocent in secret. They lurk in ambush like lions in a thicket, hide there to trap the poor, snare them and close the net. The helpless are crushed, laid low; they fall into the power of the wicked, Who say in their hearts, “God has forgotten, shows no concern, never bothers to look.” Rise up, LORD! God, lift up your hand! Do not forget the poor! Why should the wicked scorn God, say in their hearts, “God does not care”? But you do see; you take note of misery and sorrow; you take the matter in hand. To you the helpless can entrust their cause; you are the defender of orphans. Break the arm of the wicked and depraved; make them account for their crimes; let none of them survive. The LORD is king forever; the nations have vanished from his land. You listen, LORD, to the needs of the poor; you strengthen their heart and incline your ear. You win justice for the orphaned and oppressed; no one on earth will cause terror again.

Psalm 10

I cannot help but see the parallels in today’s world. We trap the poor into dependence on government aid. Cunning schemes convince those who are down trodden that God is not their savior, but man or money or a political party is. The wicked boast of their greed and power, they put down and oppress those who believe in God. They attempt to undermine our trust in God. We see oaths, violence and lies in every direction. The helpless murder the innocent in secret, abortions killing more than twice as many per year as COVID. We need to call on God to Rise Up! He strengthens the hearts of those who incline their ear to Him. We need to allow Him to rise up in us.

Lord,

I pray that I am not an arrogant scoundrel and that I don’t get trapped by their cunning schemes. Sometimes it can appear that they succeed, but I trust in your plan and your promises. I know that you care and that without you everything else fails and eventually falls. I worry that our country is about to see that too. I ask you to incline my ear to you, Lord. Strengthen my heart. Do not let me be fooled by oaths and violence and lies. You alone are my God. In you alone I place my trust. There is nothing on earth that can take the place of you. Help me to spread your word and love to others so that they can know the truth and avoid the traps and snares that surround us.

Build a Prayer Wall

Is anyone else tired of it?  Tired of the fighting?  Tired of the politicians (on both sides)?  Tired of the interior walls that bind all of us?  Tired of the media creating controversy because it “sells”?

Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war.

You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

James 4:1-3

All of our fighting, all of our conflict arises when we put our own passions, our own desires, above those of God.  We fight over everything, it seems.  We become so impassioned that we believe we are right, even when we do not understand all of the facts.  We judge those who are against us, without ever considering their side.  They are wrong because of the color of their skin, the political party that they support, the country that they come from, or even the hat that they wear.  They are wrong because they dare to disagree with us.  What is it we are fighting for?

Do we ever stop to ask God’s will?  Do we ever stop to ask God for whatever it is that we believe is so worth fighting over?  As the above passage states: “You do not possess because you do not ask.” We cannot win, we cannot gain, anything worth winning from someone else on earth.  The only things worth “winning” come from God.  Jesus tells us “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”  Matthew 7:7.  But do we ask?  And if we ask, do we do it for the right reasons?  “You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”  Do we ask so that we can do God’s will or so that we can throw it in the face of our opponent?

I am saddened this weekend by the news out of Washington.  A group of high school students from a Catholic high school were confronted by adults near the Lincoln Memorial, likely because they wore the red campaign hats from President Trump saying Make America Great Again.  The media immediately accused the boys, who were there for an anti-abortion March for Life, of creating the controversy.  And very quickly the entire social media universe was against them.  I was not there.  I did not see what happened, but then neither did the media or the many accusers now lining up against them.  What I did see on a video was a teenage boy standing still and not saying a word despite an adult male coming very close to him while banging a drum.  The media called it a stare down.  I saw a boy not knowing what to do, and so not doing anything.  His so called smirk, looked to me to be the same uncomfortable look that I get on my face when I am placed in an uncomfortable situation.  I understand the man with the drum was trying to diffuse a situation.  I understand some of the boys began to fear a confrontation from a group of people with whom they probably did not have prior experience.  As in most human situations, there was probably errors made on all sides of the equation.  How quickly we spin things out of control.  How quickly we jump to conclusions on either side of the controversy.    To what gain?

Do not speak evil of one another, brothers. Whoever speaks evil of a brother or judges his brother speaks evil of the law and judges the law. If you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save or to destroy. Who then are you to judge your neighbor?

James 4:11-12

We fight over issues without knowing the facts.  We judge others based on the word of others or based on what the media reports.  We create controversy out of misunderstandings and mistakes and make no effort to understand or forgive.   (Oh how I pray that God does not do the same to us.)  We equate a wall with hatred instead of protection.  I am all for a wall if it will give us protection, but I am not sure it will.  There is too much evil on the inside of the wall as well — from all sides.  We need help.  As America, as individuals, we need help.

“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

So submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you of two minds.  Begin to lament, to mourn, to weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.

James 4:6-10

We know we need to ask and it will be given.  But we need to ask for the right reasons.  We need, as a country, to humble ourselves to God.  We need to ask for God’s help and ask that His will be done.  We need to surround ourselves with a wall of protection — a prayer wall.  A wall impenetrable by evil, whether inside or outside the country’s borders.  A wall that unites us, all of us, in Jesus’ name.  A wall that cloaks us in God’s goodness.  I beg, each of you, to help me build this prayer wall.  Prayer by prayer.  Let’s cover our nation  with prayer.  Let’s provide this country the protection it needs — God’s protection.

Lord,

We need help.  This country needs help and I need help.  We all struggle.  We all think we are right.  We are all steeped in pride and need help with understanding, patience and forgiveness.  We need your help!  Help us and all of our country’s leaders and individuals on the street, both democratic and republican, to be humble and to seek your will rather than any human agenda.  Help us to teach our children peace and understanding rather than rash judgments as harsh and hateful as any words exchanged.  Help us to lead others to you, rather than pushing them away.  Help us to build a prayer wall.  Connecting prayer by prayer across the country.  Connecting person by person to each other and to you.  Lord, you are the only one who can protect and save any of us.  Help us, Lord.  We need more of you in our lives.

 

Prayer

Two things that make me uncomfortable are prayer and strangers.  I am not good with either.   Tonight the Bible reminds me to persevere with respect to both.

Persevere in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving; at the same time, pray for us, too, that God may open a door to us for the word, to speak of the mystery of Christ, for which I am in prison, that I may make it clear, as I must speak.  Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.  Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you know how you should respond to each one.

Colossians 4: 2-6

Prayer does not come easy to me.  But I feel like I am slowly learning.

God,

Please open the door to your word.  Make it clear for me and those around me.    Help me to make the most of opportunities with others.  Help me to reflect your word.