Beliefnet
Prayer, Plain and Simple

California has a $20 billion budget deficit – ouch – which may be why Republican voters in the California primary election on Tuesday chose two financial wonderwomen to run for two huge statewide offices. Former eBay chief Meg Whitman won a decisive victory in the Republican primary for California governor – she’ll run against former governor Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown. And former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, won the GOP nod to go up against sitting U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) in November.

Both women poured millions of the own fortunes into their campaigns. Both promise fiscal responsibility and a no-nonsense frugality. But both face a huge uphill battle to challenge the entrenched political systems in Sacramento and in Washington. It’s not business as usual here and now. And what works in the boardroom doesn’t necessarily work in the halls of government.

I grew up in California. And honestly, it really is a dreamland of beauty and spirit. I now live in Minnesota, but I do get to travel to the golden state next week. California has always been a bellwether. As tough as things can get, California always seems to rise with a new hope and courage to lead real change. This spirit tends to lead the nation.

Today I’m praying for California and for her renewal and revival. Join me in some spiritual “California Dreamin’.”

“God, not all places on the planet are created equal. The land we now call ‘California’ got a double portion of blessing from your hand. A breathtaking coastline, a bountiful central valley, staggering mountains, deserts, abundant sunshine… This land has always attracted dreamers and pioneers looking for new start and a place to begin again. Today California is struggling. Many of her people are trapped in financial crises. There’s confusion and bitter partisanship in the governments of the State and counties and cities. Business is in recession there. God, we ask you to revisit California with you hand of blessing and peace and prosperity. Bring a wave of renewal not first economically, but spiritually. Wake up those who have a heart for you, to rise and seek your face. Begin a revival there, of hope and holiness and a desire to see your face. God, renew California and let them lead the way toward TRUE change across our nation. In Jesus…”

Helen Thomas has “gotten the hell out of Washington” after telling Jews to “get the hell out of Israel.” The now former 89-year old “dean” of the White House press corps has been forced into retirement by Hearst Media after saying that Jews should return “home” to Poland and Germany and to give the land named “Israel” back to the Palestinians. Thomas later apologized for her verbal dysentery. But as we know,… “from the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Helen, it’s clear what’s in your heart…

Yes, yes, God cares about the Palestinian people. He promises to provide for anyone no matter their culture or race or nationality, anyone who turns to him for help. That said, the land north of the River, west of the Desert, and east of the Sea rightly called Israel (not Palestine) was given by God to the Jewish people. It is a decree thousands of years old. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Osama bin Laden and Helen Thomas may want it otherwise, but the fact remains: that land belongs to the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. End of story!

What’s troubling today – I smelled it in the news cycles all week – is the blatant reassertion of what can only be called anti-Semitism. That’s right! Let’s name it what it is, and as we do remember well that we’ve been here before. The world press, the United Nations, the European Union, the Arab States, Asia, and most of the developing world are blasting and isolating tiny Israel. Even the United State (God have mercy upon us) is shunning this nation, our only true friend in the region mind you!

The matter is weird and haunting and eerie, like something out the back pages of the New Testament (Reader be wise!)  The mood is more than political shuffling, more than economic posturing for oil or military positioning, or a clamoring for import and export access. What’s astir is an irrational, subliminal “spiritual” reality up the dark side of hell itself. “  There are only around 12 million Jews in the whole world! Why are they so hated? Don’t believe in God? Try explaining a rational reason the world’s hatred of the Jewish people. When you fail at least admit you believe in the Devil. For just as God carries a special love for his people, the Jews, so the enemy of God, Satan holds a special hatred for these, the “apple of his eye.”  Before we go too far, again… Let’s pause, repent, and cooperate with God in this matter…

“God, forgive us for neglecting, resisting, even opposing your purposes in history, particularly with and for your Jewish people. God, where we have cursed them restore a blessing. In the wake of this current assault of opinion against them, revive them with hope and faith that knows and rests in the fact that you alone are their protection and strength. Though the whole world rejects them, you will not! Bless Israel and the Jewish people today, again, and finally. And in your time reveal to them their Messiah, the One Anointed to bring the Kingdom… In the Name of that Anointed One, may he come… Again!”

An ominous wave of teen suicides swept across Minneapolis and St. Paul last week. My 16 year old son and his friends at Mounds View High School are still reeling. So am I… Because I felt it coming…

20 boys show up on our doorstep late Saturday night. They had made their rounds to 3 or 4 graduation parties stuffing themselves on chips and dips and catered Jimmy Johns sandwiches. They came in late and flopped in the living room. My wife, Jill pulled out a few bags of chip,  some dip and some cookies. They weren’t hungry, but they ate anyway.  We knew why they were there: not one of them wanted to be alone and they were finding consolation and reassurance in each other’s presence. They laughed and jabbed at each other as 16 year olds will. But a noticeable, sedate heaviness held them down.  Of course… It had been a bitter week for all of them, and for me…

One of their schoolmates, a young 15 year old girl, took her life six days before. It stunned everyone. She was popular, and talented, a member of Mounds View High School’s esteemed orchestra and championship track team. No one could have foreseen it, not from her. Now every student in Mounds View is left thinking, “If her, what about me?”

I felt it coming, and I believe I fought the battle with her. Last weekend there were several teen suicides across the Twin Cities… The blight hit like a plague. Stunning. Treacherous. Horrifying. Why here? Why so suddenly? Why so many? There’s some dark mystery behind this, something I don’t understand, some demonic plot.

I fought the same battle, at the same time. Early Saturday morning – around 2:00 AM – I woke in a cold sweat battling an emotional suffocation of fear and despair. I’m not a melancholy soul. I don’t normally struggle with depression or anxiety. I virtually never have thoughts of suicide. But that morning it all swept me under – all those same hopeless thoughts and emotions. I lay awake for the next four hours praying and battling whatever demons were behind this attack. It was one of the darkest, most trying experiences I can every remember. I finally fell into a fitful sleep around 6:00 AM.

When I woke up and stumbled into the kitchen my son met me with his bitter news – his school mate had taken her own life early that morning.  My night time battle made sudden sense, and sudden senselessness! I felt – but didn’t understand – the connection between my battle and hers, and as I learned in the hours that followed, that of several other teens across the Cities. Why had I fought this battle? Why had a succeeded in chasing the terror from my sould and my home but had not chased it from my City? I’m the pastor of a large Church in St. Paul. I have some spiritual jurisdiction in this region. I know and believe this. But had I failed in my intercession? Or only partially succeeded? I don’t know. The matter torments m,e and I’m still processing the battle and the tragedy. Maybe I’ll never know… Probably not, at least not fully.

The world behind what we see is real and dangerous and cloaked from our understanding. But somehow we’re asked to navigate it none-the-less… and we’re ask to wield the “Name of Jesus” as our sword and to do battle in response. That’s all I know, and all that makes sense. In the horrible wake of these tragic deaths the two things I know for certain are that there is an evil force in this world, a force with a will intent on destroying human life, and there is a God who loves us, and has given us a place, a purpose and a power to fight this force and prevail, thoguh at the risk of our own souls. The power is enough, but it is beyond our own capacity, and from and of God himself. Why God has put us on a war zone… I don’t know. But I have to believe, as I’ve seen myself, the battle is winnable with and in the Name of the One… Join me there in that battle, in that Name!

“God, we pray today for the families and friends of those young people who have taken their own lives. We know that evil forces prey on our souls. The Bible says ‘the devil prowls like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.’ We know the world is dangerous. Many young people have become Satan’s prey. God, have mercy… On their souls and on those of us left behind to struggle and grieve and fight same battles ourselves. Bring your comfort to all those wounded by suicide. Heal. Comfort. Restore. And God, give us eyes to see the true enemy behind such senseless death. Give us supernatural discernment to see the wiles of Despair before it strikes. Renew our strength face down the haunting lies of Depression and the power of Jesus to drive it from our own souls, the souls of others, and from the jurisdictions where we live. ‘In Jesus’ name, spirit of suicide, be gone!’ And in it’s place, Holy Spirit of peace, rest, hope, even joy, come and fill the emptiness. You came to bring us life, and life abundant… We will take that gift, and fight to receive it…”

A small undersea earthquake struck just the shores of Los Angeles early this morning. It was widely felt in the West Los Angeles area. The U.S. Geological survey registered the 3.6-magnitude temblor at 2:17 a.m. PDT Monday. It was centered about four miles west of Redondo Beach at a depth of 8 miles.

I grew up in California and earthquakes were a regular event in my life. Still, as familiar as they became, they still never ceased to send a jolt of fear through me.  Several million people are stressed and on edge this morning I’m sure. Let’s pray a blessing of peace for the people of Southern California. Let’s also pray for peace in the seams of the planet, the geographic rifts where the platelets of the earth come together.

“God, the earth is yours. You have made this planet and you own and steward it your own powerful hand. We pray and ask for peace today following the earthquake in Los Angeles. We ask that you would ease the stress and fear in the millions of people who were awakened by the tremor last night. May they give their fears to you, and may you give them supernatural rest in return. We also pray that you would ease any tension building in the earth itself. We know that faultlines do build up pressure and that earthquakes are a natural result. But we ask that by your grace you would bring small releases of these pressures and that shifts in the rifts would be gentle and not destructive. May your peace dominate today, in the hearts of human beings and in the heart of the earth itself! Asyou said, Jesus when you were on the planet… ‘Peace, be Still!'”