Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hot Potato Prayer

Hot Potato Prayer
By Brenda Black

As the banter over national prayer heats up in the count down to next Thursday, I am reminded of the children's game “Hot Potato.” Everyone wants to briefly hold the prayer tater-topic, then quickly toss it to someone else for fear they might get burned. And maybe they have a right to regard public opinion on such a hefty matter as risky. After all, the innocent parlor game developed in the 1880's began not with a safe potato, but a lit candle; and players chanted a strange little saying:

“Jack's alive, and likely to live. If he dies in your hand, you've a forfeit to give. The one in whose hand the light expires has to pay the forfeit.”

A heavy concept for frivolous entertainment, but a perfect picture of the high cost of throwing the one, true God out of our affairs and the solemn consequence for such arrogant behavior. If an extinguished candle flame rendered payment, how much more the repercussion for snuffing out the Light of the World. Prayer is not a game. Neither is it a legal issue; it is an ethical and moral responsibility. Prayer is a matter of life and death. It has been key to the success of this nation since its inception and is more relevant and essential than ever before in history. And those who want to ban it, condemn it or de-emphasize it's importance will bear the shame of squelching God's blessing the U.S. of A. There will be a price to pay if we do not humbly seek the Almighty's will and mercy.

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln knew the necessity of beseeching God. He offered a three-tier solution for a divided nation. His complete package called on citizens to not just offer lip service. He didn't suggest that they pray as an afterthought. He intended that every person commit their mind, body and soul to the task. His penitent words and pleading voice are just as relevant today as during the Civil War.

“Whereas the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the supreme authority and just government of Almighty God in all the affairs of men and of nations, has by a resolution requested the President to designate and set apart a day for national prayer and humiliation; and...”

Wait- stop right there! The Senate of the U.S. “devoutly recognizes the supreme authority and just government of Almighty God in all the affairs of men and of nations”? And so did their forerunners who framed the Constitution! Let's read on:

“Whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord;...”

Duty to God, humble sorrow, genuine repentance, mercy, pardon, truth, Holy Scriptures, the blessings of God – these words backed by a Senate and proclaimed by the President. Yes, sir! This is no generic, pluralistic, politically correct or politically corrupt media stunt. This is a heartfelt plea for forgiveness from the only One able to deliver.

“...We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us...”

How much farther has America advanced in more than a century? And how much farther we have descended from the God who deserves honor and glory for the great things He hath done. “David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, 'Praise be to you, O Lord, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.'” (1 Chronicles 29:10-13)

Lincoln knew as King David, in whom we should place our confidence.

“It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power. To confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

“Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do by this my proclamation designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting, and prayer. And I do hereby request all the people to abstain on that day from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite at their several places of public worship and their respective homes in keeping the day holy to the Lord and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.

“All this being done in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the divine teachings that the united cry of the nation will be heard on high and answered with blessings no less than the pardon of our national sins and the restoration of our now divided and suffering country to its former happy condition of unity and peace...”

The hot topic from nearly 150 years ago is sizzling once again. The difference – Lincoln appealed to people who believed in praying to the One, True God and our country was healed. In 2010, God is still God but we must acknowledge that He is still head of our states. If we don't handle this potato carefully, we could get burned terribly.

“God's alive, and likely to live. If he dies in your hand, you've a forfeit to give. The one in whose hand the light expires has to pay the forfeit.”

Check out Jim Daly's (Focus on the Family) comments concerning prayer at http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/panelists/jim_daly/2010/04/a_day_of_prayer_for_judicial_common_sense.html

1. (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=69891)

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