How’s Your Prayer Life?   Leave a comment

National Day of Prayer 2013 is Thursday May 2. I rarely participate in these annual events because I pray all the time, so don’t feel the need to join in a national show of how religious we are. So, this year’s theme (Pray for America) is a stretch for a non-joiner like me, but it is also a challenge.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 6:43-45

I consider government at all levels to be an enemy of the people to varying degrees. Yet the Bible says to pray for my enemies. And I do know the verse “A house divided against itself cannot stand” (Mark 3:24). The issues that divided our nation during the 2012 elections were of greater significance that the prevailing economy scrutiny, yet played a negative role in the elections. Moral values of the sanctity of human life, preservation of marriage, and defense of religious freedom became subject to attack ads, speeches and debates as candidates aligned with opposing sides of the spectrum with no middle ground. Life was described as either sacred and worthy of preservation no matter what the circumstances or simply a decision to end an inconvenience and not a right. Marriage was described as one man and one woman as it has traditionally been or to be interpreted and redefined based on social moral relativism. Religious freedom was treated as either the right to freely worship God (of various faiths) or something that should be hidden away from public view, proscribed and possibly even investigated as terrorism.

We must examine ourselves as a nation. Aside from party affiliation, the election was clearly a revelation of the values of the voting public. Contrary to popular belief, the problem of polarization is not a Washington DC problem. The problem is in our homes, communities and churches. The heart of the American people has changed.

We live in a nation where half of the voting population holds beliefs and philosophies that are contrary to the beliefs of the other half. Increasingly it is difficult to find people who will stand for a strong Biblical world view in government, the military, schools, the media, businesses, and even churches and families. In such a contentious environment, those who try to live “godly” will be hated by a world that rejects our worldview and persecution is rarely far behind hate.

Persecution takes many forms, but the basic idea is harassment, irritation, and mistreatment so as to silence or drive away those subject to persecution. “The fact is, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” (2 Timothy 3:12). That’s a painful thought because we all want to be liked, but when we take a stand against ungodliness in our culture, the ungodly will stand against us. Maybe they aren’t going to feed us to the lions just yet, but to be deprived of your liberty in a free society is persecution.

And our response?

Pray for them.

Ow! Knowing what to do is easier than doing what we know we must do. Jesus directs us not only to pray, but to pray with the same unconditional, never failing, always enduring love that Jesus loves us with. Our natural response to “persecution” from “enemies” is not to pray. It’s to fight back, but Jesus asks us to pray in sincere love for those who hate us.

Praying is not giving up. It’s just recognizing that what is wrong in our society will take more than just our collective will to repair and, frankly, more than one day of a nation bowing its neck to affect a cure.

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