Prayer, Plain and Simple

As Yogi Berra said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

The buzz around Bishop Eddie Long’s “denial” yesterday to fight allegations that he lured young men into sexual relationships has left me with the same sadness, embarrassment, and anger I’ve experienced all too often in the wake of the exposure of the sexual fall of other public Christian leaders. I remember Jimmy Baker, Jimmy Swaggart, Ted Haggart and many, many others. This latest leaves the same residue of nausea and confusion that someone in the family, again, has so publicly smeared our name.

Granted, nothing is proven against the pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. But his carefully crafted address to the thousands packed into the church sanctuary neither discussed specifics of the lawsuits filed against him nor flatly denied the accusations. My skeptical self can’t help but imagine that truth rests somewhere between a snow white innocence and the tawdry vulgarity blasted out in the accusations.

“There have been allegations and attacks made on me. I have never in my life portrayed myself as a perfect man, but I am not the man that’s being portrayed on the television. That’s not me. That is not me,” he said as applause from the crowd repeatedly interrupted him.

Sick as I am over Long’s turmoil, I’m choosing an action in response. I’m going to take and turn my frustration into a compulsion of self-examination. I’m going to pray:

“Search me oh God, and see if there is any hurtful way in me! Find the seed of compromise and before it sinks down a root in me, long before it grows and bears a bitter fruit, find it, expose it, ruthlessly dig it out, and purge me clean by the power of your grace. I come in need of the power of the blood atonement of Jesus. I need what only you can provide. Protect me from public expose, and do this by vigilant private exposure, before you and those in my life who know and trust and love me. I invite you to open my heart to my covenant friends, to you and those who love you, that I may not be stripped bare in shame before my enemies. I walk in humility before you and confess my weaknesses that I won’t be make to walk in humiliation in the face of the Prince of Condemnation. I chose the vicious mercy of your love over the malicious condescension  of my foes. Lord, search me. Please search and expose to your light all the failing and flaws that compromise my destiny. Heal me and change me. And so this in a way covered by your grace, that I may not bring shame and demise to your Kingdom and your own reputation. Lord, have mercy!”

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