One of my favorite tools in my study is a little black book that belonged to one of my predecessors. It’s a rather ordinary little book that has certainly been through the wringer. However, its appearance ought not to be assumed equivalent with its value. It is a prayer book of the American Anglican tradition called “The Book of Common Prayer” (1928 edition). On Thursday, I went into our church’s sanctuary, got on my knees, and prayed. In one sense, this is an ordinary ministerial act, because pastors are expected to pray. My prayers, however, were littered with sadness over the dismal estate of our nation.
As Christians, we know that every nation needs prayer. Indeed, it is every Christian’s duty to pray for the country in which they dwell. Though Christians realize that we are citizens of the New Jerusalem, we are also called to look for the good of the land in which we inhabit, whether or not that nation honors the triune God of the Bible.
One of the prayers uttered came from that Book of Common Prayer, and included these lines, “In times of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in Thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (“Prayers For Our Country”) Repeat these words: suffer not our trust in Thee to fail.
Who or what lost your trust this week? This activity is inherently soul searching. Why? Because it leads us to recognize that perhaps this person, this party, this group, this . . . whatever – was unable to fulfill the deep longings of our heart. In one sense, this is absolutely ordinary. No human institution, no matter how grand, is able to satisfy the deep longings of our hearts. Man, who was made to echo and exist as an image of the Infinite, will never be satisfied with dust and clay, no matter its form. This week did nothing other than remind us that every earthly power is finite. Whether your guy won or lost, we all stand amazed at what transpired, and how our nation will never be the same.
What will you do about this? Will you simply complain? Will you boast? Will you antagonize? Will you argue? Will you be left silent? I will be left praying and I invite you to do the same. Not only for peace in some broad sense, but for our land to repent. To repent of dishonoring the name of Christ. To repent for fighting against His most holy law. To repent for disregarding life in every form. To repent of presuming political affiliations as a means of salvation. Simply put, I’m praying that God, in His mercy, might save us from ourselves, by means of the Gospel of His Son, Jesus the Christ.
You and I have a choice as to how we shall respond. Shall we simply multiply violence and wickedness? We turn to sacred Scripture to guide us in these moments, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:19-21 ESV)
I write this as an American to Americans. I write to Democrats. I write to Republicans. I write to Independents. I write to Libertarians. I write to all of you to stop and consider the events of this week. What we do now matters. How we act now matters. What will be your contribution in these difficult moments? Pray. Do good. Then pray again.
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