Thursday, May 06, 2010

Pray today

When I heard the details of the thwarted bombing in Times Square a few days ago, I started to get a little teary. The radio news host kept saying how lucky we were. The car filled with explosives almost went off in the middle of a crowded tourist area. But he had one wrong material. The suspect almost escaped to Dubai. Did you hear that he was literally on the plane, a red-eye to the Middle East? The plane was already taxiing down the runway, and air traffic control got the pilot to return to the airport just in the nick of time. The detectives trailed him by intercepting his cell phone calls - from millitary planes in the sky who happened to be above the cab taking him to the airport. This suspect had drawings in his home of other targeted locations in NYC. A subway train. The Staten Island ferry. Places where hundreds of men and women and children are. It was not luck, my friends. God had mercy on us; God protected us. He disrupted the plans of our enemy. That's why I got a little teary. I felt grateful, not lucky.

Whether President Obama will acknowledge today as the National Day of Prayer or not, our country's president said these words 150 years ago.

In July of 1861 President Abraham Lincoln declared a National Day of Prayer. He wrote the following:

Whereas a joint Committee of both Houses of Congress has waited on the President of the United States, and requested him to "recommend a day of public humiliation, prayer and fasting, to be observed by the people of the United States with religious solemnities, and the offering of fervent supplications to Almighty God for the safety and welfare of these States, His blessings on their arms, and a speedy restoration of peace:" --

And whereas
it is fit and becoming in all people, at all times, to acknowledge and revere the Supreme Government of God; to bow in humble submission to his chastisements; to confess and deplore their sins and transgressions in the full conviction that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; and to pray, with all fervency and contrition, for the pardon of their past offences, and for a blessing upon their present and prospective action:

And whereas, when our own beloved Country, once, by the blessing of God, united, prosperous and happy, is now afflicted with faction and civil war, it is peculiarly fit for us to recognize the hand of God in this terrible visitation, and in sorrowful remembrance of our own faults and crimes as a nation and as individuals, to humble ourselves before Him, and to pray for His mercy, -- to pray that we may be spared further punishment, though most justly deserved; that our arms may be blessed and made effectual for the re-establishment of law, order and peace, throughout the wide extent of our country; and that the inestimable boon of civil and religious liberty, earned under His guidance and blessing, by the labors and sufferings of our fathers, may be restored in all its original excellence: --

Therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do appoint the last Thursday in September next, as a day of humiliation, prayer and fasting for all the people of the nation. And I do earnestly recommend to all the People, and especially to all ministers and teachers of religion of all denominations, and to all heads of families, to observe and keep that day according to their several creeds and modes of worship, in all humility and with all religious solemnity, to the end that the united prayer of the nation may ascend to the Throne of Grace and bring down plentiful blessings upon our Country.

Let's pray today, OK? Let's petition God for the further protection of our country from enemies, foreign or domestic. Let's pray for wise leadership all the way from our government down to that within our very homes. Let's be humble about our failures, and ask for strength. Let's be thankful for our blessings, and acknowledge that all good things we have are from the Lord. And let's remember that God is not looking to shame us for the things we've done wrong - he wants to reconcile. He wants to make peace with us through grace. And he wants to be on the throne of our lives. Sometimes we need to unseat ourselves from His rightful place. And we need to say sorry for the times we've tried to remove Him from office, or for the times where we simply sidestepped Him altogether.

One study I did a couple years ago defined prayer as the "releasing of God's will upon the earth." There are verses which imply that at times, the Lord's will is on hold until He has an intercessor who will step up and pray on behalf of a person or situation. Let's be that intercessor, for our country and for our families and for ourselves. Take a few minutes - right now, if you can - and pray.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.
2 Chronicles 7:14-15

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