If you’ve noticed, there have been a number of recent articles and comments all suggesting that prayer is either not worth mentioning or is altogether a waste of time. When the Dalai Lama said it, I addressed it. (Consider this earlier post.) Following the San Bernardino, California shooting, the New Daily News published with the following headlines: “God Isn’t Fixing This,” addressing politicians who offer prayers to the victims’ families. Chiming into the conversation, the Washington Post called it a “very provocative” title. Later, Timothy Egan for the New York Times wrote an opinion article titled, “No More Thoughts and Prayers.” In it, he bemoans the situation playing out in the media and political world regarding the (apart lack of) gun restrictions that continue to allow people who (he won’t say it, but I will) are driven by evil and hate and violence, thereby forfeiting, in my opinion, their very right to life and freedom in our country with their behavior.
But as it stands, my main concern as a pastor is that we, people of love and faith who believe in Jesus and all that He taught and stood for, don’t lose faith in the God our country has disinvited but happily blames for all that is wrong in our sin-sick world. Do we need to do something? Yes! Do we need to pray? Yes!
Case in point–Nehemiah. When Nehemiah and his men were being attacked by outsiders who wanted to harm their wellbeing, progress, and growth (shall we call them terrorists?), he made a decision that fits our current situation surprisingly well. Nehemiah 4:8-9 reads:
And [the terrorists] plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night. (Italics added.)
In my mind, this amazingly clear plan of action seems to be just what’s needed in our modern-day atmosphere. We need to pray…and…we need to prepare. In fact, in one instance, the people were working with one hand and holding their swords with the other (Nehemiah 4:17-18), protecting themselves from their enemies (amazingly while not hurting each other!).
Don’t let the media or the events happening around the world deter you from a healthy prayer life. We pray, first, because we believe that God exists and listens to us. Second, the amount of prayer that we offer is dictated by our belief in God’s sovereignty: in other words, the stronger our believe is in God’s control and ability, the more we will pray to Him. Finally, prayer, in no way, shape, or form, is intended to alleviate the responsibility that God has bestowed upon us as rational, conscientious beings. Pray hard. Work hard. Live well. Give God the glory.