July 11, 2016
We have a war memorial in the parking lot of our church. Honestly, I don’t know who owns the property nor do I know who is ultimately responsible for taking care of it, but for now Bill Heller, a member of our church respectfully looks after it and the Boy Scouts use it for flag raising and such. I suppose in some ways, maintaining it for the long run is a community responsibility. I have taken it upon myself to lower the flag when occasions warrant. Flags are flying at half mast again. I told our congregation on Sunday that I was tired and saddened by the thought of once again lowering that flag. I have a notion that this will become a regular event. Well, until terrorism and mental instability resulting in tragedy become so common place that they will no longer warrant half mast. I wonder how far off that is? Not too distant, I suspect.
Sorry if this sounds a bit cynical but… I have seen many posts on face book and on the internet regarding the events of this past week… the shooting (murder?) of two people by the police and the murder of 5 policemen in Dallas… not to mention the additional number of folks injured. One of the notes that is often included is something like this, “Praying for the officers.” Or, “Praying for the families of those who were killed or injured.” Really??? Seriously all those folks are really praying? I seriously doubt they are. Furthermore… Praying for what? Or maybe more importantly, praying to whom? Don’t get me wrong, I obviously believe in the power and the necessity of prayer. I’m just trying to figure out what people mean when they say they are praying.
So folks who believe in a god that is not worthy of worship (or maybe is only worthy of worship on Christmas and Easter) are praying to that same god? Why? If your god is so powerless and irrelevant that he/she/it is not worthy of regular worship, then why waste your time praying? And again, what are you praying for anyway? What exactly do you want your irrelevant god to do? I know that there are “no atheists in foxholes” but are we in foxholes now?
Or maybe folks have a special connection with “the big guys upstairs.” (Hold on a moment. I need to go vomit!) I personally believe in a Holy, Majestic, all Powerful God of the Universe Who requires our worship and respect, not a silly “guy upstairs” of my own invention. If you’re praying to the “big guy…,” then you are wasting your time.
I have heard this quote recently: 2 Chronicles 7:14 “…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 I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” I don’t have a problem quoting this verse as long as we realize it is spoken to and about the people of Israel in the O.T., i.e., the Chosen People of God. It is not spoken to the United States of America. We are NOT the “people of God” as referred to here in 2 Chronicles. If anything this verse applies to the Church… but not to our country. That being said it is never wrong or bad to pray for our nation. But again, what are we supposed to pray for? Or what are we praying for? It always amazes me when our prayers are so self serving. “Oh Lord please move the hearts of those in positions of power so they (fill in the blank with your favorite agenda items).” That is not a prayer worth praying. Maybe a more valuable prayer is something like this: “Lord I come to you with no preconceived agenda. I seek your will. I want to do what you want. Help me to discern your desires and not my own.” And until we are certain that we have heard from God and are prepared to obey, well then just… wait. Oh yeah and be quiet! I grow weary of bone headed Christians who have opinions that are self informed and social media informed and rumor informed and favorite news agency informed, but are not God informed. I should add, in all fairness, that I have on too many occasions fallen into the “bonehead” category myself.
So, what should we pray? Well, go to prayer and ask God! But do not tell people you will be praying when you will not. And don’t say you will be praying when you don’t know what to pray nor do you really believe in a God who can do anything. And don’t waste your time with the “big guy upstairs.” He/she/it is a product of silliness. God is NOT silly.