Beliefnet
Prayer, Plain and Simple

Freedom of speech is a constitutional right everywhere in America, except – evidently – on college campuses. The University of Illinois has sacked Ken Howell, an adjunct professor who taught courses on Catholicism because one of his students accused him of hate speech. Professor Howell’s crime: He admitted that he personally agrees with the Catholic Church’s teaching that homosexual sex is immoral.

Beware: When expressing a personal moral conviction becomes “hate speech,” we have fully fallen off the ledge into the abyss of a “Brave New World” where the thought police judge intent over action. Wo be unto the people who cower under the boot of such tyranny!

“God, help us!”

President Obama’s Justice Department has filed a lawsuit challenging the Arizona’s immigration policy.  Fancy that! Siding with the government of Mexico over against a State government, the suite accuses Arizona of trying to “second guess” the federal government. Officials in Washington claimed on Tuesday that Arizona’s “invalid” law interferes with federal immigration responsibilities and “must be struck down.” Arizona counters that it is simply backing federal laws on immigration that Washington itself has refused to enforce.

Everyone involved agrees we have a problem. America is an immigrant nation. Some 95% of our current citizenship come from families who came to America from somewhere else. The question at hand is HOW do we foster immigration and manage the process in a productive and healthy way? And does Arizona have a right – even an obligation – to ensure the integrity of its border?

Once again, we see a challenge here that is really beyond our human wisdom and capacity to resolve. We need God’s perspective and strength more than we need mere human, political, economic solutions. Let’s offer prayer for this specific challenge…

“God we thank you for our ancestors who risked their lives to travel to America and begin a new life here. We thank you for leading them and for blessing them with this great and generous land. We pray now for the many who are still risking all to come here to begin anew. We thank you too for the orderly process we have in place. We thank you that there is a way for people to join in the American dream, and we thank you that our government is in place to aid this process. We ask that you would intervene here and now in our current immigration process. Provide ways for those who long to be part of America to join us. At the same time protect us from those who would use our freedoms to damage our freedoms. Give Arizona officials and the Justice Department a win/win solution to this present crisis. We ask for peace and security without sacrificing freedom and the hope of new beginning. In Jesus…”

It’s hot! It’s too hot to do much of anything, including writing a blog. I’ll make this short…

Today across much of the country temperatures are again headed into triple digits. From Maine to Texas, from Minnesota to Death Valley and all places in between – it’s a blast furnace.

Not only is this weather uncomfortable, for some it’s dangerous. Several deaths have already been blamed on the heat wave.

Let’s pray for relief and for protection for those most vulnerable to elevated temperatures.

“God, we ask for relief from the heat that is suffocating much of the United States. Send cooling winds and relief. We ask that you would protect those most susceptible to high temperatures. Provide cool places of refuge for the elderly and those with health issues. We pray this in Jesus…”

One year from this month, July 2011 President Obama will begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan. For good or ill, his campaign promise is now official policy. But critics of the President’s plans are growing more vocal.

Afghan Ambassador Said Tayeb Jawad told CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that the publically stated deadline to begin is unrealistic and unhelpful.

“First, if you over-emphasize a deadline that is not realistic, you are making the enemy a lot more bold,” Jawad said. “You are prolonging the war. That deadline should be realistic. The line should be based on the reality on the ground and we should give a clear message to the enemy, to the terrorists who are a threat to everyone, that the United States, NATO, Afghans are there to finish this job…. If that’s not the feeling, we lost the support of the Afghan people, and also make the neighboring countries of interest a lot more bolder to interfere in Said Tayeb Jawad .”

Senator John McCain echoed the sentiments on ABC’s “This Week.” McCain questioned the wisdom of a firm deadline to start withdrawing forces. “I’m all for dates for withdrawal, but that’s after the strategy succeeds, not before… The president should state unequivocally that we will leave when we have succeeded,” he said. “If you tell the enemy that you’re leaving on a date certain, unequivocally, then that enemy will wait until you leave.”

Lindsey Graham, Senator from South Carolina repeated the warning while visiting Afghanistan in an interview broadcast on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”  “If you send a signal to your enemy you’re going to leave at a certain date, they’ll wait you out.” Graham did go on to express optimism that the counterinsurgency strategy led by Petraeus may succeed before July 2011.

Graham and McCain both urged Obama to clarify the conditions-based approach so that the nation’s allies and enemies understand the U.S. commitment to the war. Both President Barack Obama and Gen. David Petraeus, who replaced Gen. Stanley McChrystal as U.S. commander in Afghanistan, have said the July 2011 withdrawal will depend on conditions on the ground. Leaders are now calling on the President to clarify this caveat in light of his categorical promise to hold the firm deadline.

“God, we pray for peace in Afghanistan. We pray for wisdom for our American officials steering this war, President Obama and Gen. David Petraeus. We pray for wisdom and strength for the Afghan leaders as well. Lord, there is little history of peace in this nation. But you can do anything! You are a God of peace. It is your very name – Shalom! Let Shalom visit Afghanistan. Bring about a spiritual renewal there. Bring an openness for Afghans to see beyond the narrowness of their traditional religion. Open their hearts to see the TRUTH which will set them free. Show them the love and grace of Jesus, and allow them to see that they can embrace the hope of the Gospel without losing the distinctiveness of their own culture. God, we pray today for Afghanistan, in the name of the Prince of Peace!”