Beliefnet
Prayer, Plain and Simple

I stopped by “Google Hot Trends” this morning to see what is “trending” on the web. Are we bored, what!  #1, #5, #11: “Dancing with the Stars.”  #4: “Who Won Biggest Loser?” #8, #15: “Who Won American Idol?” And #10: “The Hills.”

With the Gulf Coast drowning in an oil slick,  Jamaica bleeding on the streets, North and South Korea in a dangerous standoff, the White House declaring war on Arizona, Ahamdinejad warning President Obama to accept Iran’s nuclear future, and  the Cubs again four games below .500, we’re still obsessed with television fantasy games.

So what will it take to capture America’s attention? Better question: what will it take to capture America’s imagination? When everything significant is completely insignificant, when the popular is meaningless and the hip mere fashion we’re doped and some might say near done… I don’t know.  .  Seriously… The only ones winning these ridiculous contests are the networks… And we’re footing the bill… How stupid and lazy can we be!

But… I choose to take a ray of hope today from my own Hope, my precious 20 year old daughter Elisabeth Hope who is taking two precious weeks of summer vacation from college to work with the Anti-Human Trafficking group, “Not for Sale.” Ellie is part of a team learning and putting into practice “smart activism,” to deal with this insidious and world-pervasive issue.

It’s a matter that matters to God, and therefore must matter to us. NFS is committed to finding ways to snap America out of her reality show addiction to see reality as reality is; and then to do something about it!

In response, my role today is to pray, for Ellie, for the heroes in “Not for Sale,” and for all of us, to wake up and begin to care about something more than so-and-so’s costume malfunction on the finale of blah-badie-blah blah blah. So let’s start a new “hot trend” today – “Not for Sale” rescuing child slaves in Ghana could be the hot search word… And to start that I’ll post this prayer… Pass the word. Let’s set a trend instead of following one… 

“God, stir my heart today with the things that stir you. I am so easily distracted. I am so frequently diverted to pass-times, that steal time and energy and focus from what truly matters. God, help me keep my focus. Let me join, at least in heart and conviction, with those who are in the heat of battle against things you hate and for things you love. I bless today those serving the poor, the broken, the sick, the estranged, the forgotten. Wake me at a heart level to care about these things, to turn my eyes toward, and not away-from the pain in this world! God, I give you access to my emotional center, to share with me what defines your character. In Jesus…”

 

Pray for a peaceful governmental transition in Trinidad and Tobago. It now appears that opposition leader General Kamla Persad-Bissessar will become the Caribbean nation’s first woman prime minister after her coalition won national elections yesterday. Prime Minister Patrick Manning has conceded defeat after his People’s National Movement lost 14 of its 26 seats in Parliament.  Former Attorney General Persad-Bissessar’s People’s Partnership coalition won 29 seats with her United National Congress party taking 21 seats themselves, giving the UNC a simple majority in the 41-seat Parliament.

Let’s pray for Trinidad and Tobago and the entire Caribbean region.

“Father God, we pray a blessing on the nation of Trinidad and Tobago. We thank you for the gracious and hospitable spirit you have given to the people of this Caribbean nation. We pray now for a peaceful  transition for this new government. Give Prime Minister Manning and his team a gracious and cooperative spirit. Protect the nation and her citizens at home and abroad from any threats of violence. Give wisdom to the new leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar. May she have the direction and support she needs to govern with prudence and vision.  We pray that the destiny you yourself have set for Trinidad and Tobago would be realized. In Jesus name…”

Heaven… Life after death… Purgatory… the Great Mystery!

I did not closely follow the six seasons of the television series “Lost” but I stumbled on enough bits and pieces through the years to occasionally peek my curiosity. Last night, while my son was watching the final half hour I sat down long enough to catch the wrenching ending. Granted, it probably didn’t mean as much to me as it did to all those who following the story faithfully but I was never the less fascinated and even a bit captivated by the twist the producers gave the story. The survivors were never survivors…

We are, each one of us, both fascinated and frightened by our own pending death.  We don’t live long on this planet and at some point we come to realize that our choices and actions are all just a part of a much longer story, a story that doesn’t resolve in this dimension. There has to be more…

Recently some amazing research has been done surrounding near death experiences. Certainly the case can be made from these studies that something more and other does await us beyond. It’s fine and even helpful for science to explore these matters, but really the Christian faith has been there long before. Like so much science, the researchers scale their own mountain peaks only to find the theologians already perched on the summit smoking pipes and pondering the next challenge.

Christians do believe in life beyond. And we don’t see it as arbitrary or uncertain. We believe that Jesus himself has come to earth to die for us, to pave the way into the grave and out of it. We’re told in our scriptures that one day we will all be like him, the first human to move through the end point of death and beyond to life. Far from uncertainty, and leaving us with a sense of un-resolve, Jesus settles the matter for us. We don’t earn our way through; we believe our way through, on his merit not ours.

I don’t adhere to all the speculations in the “Lost” finale, but I will give them this much: the writers drew on our yearning and uncertainty of the final future we all must face, and they took us into a place of hope. In my worldview this hope is not based on my own efforts, or even my own personal “purgatory” experience in a shadowlands beyond. My hope is rooted in Jesus and his victory over death. What “Lost” has done is pointedly raise the question we all ask: What next? What Jesus does, that they did not resolve is guarantee that future – a life everafter with God!

“God, we know that death awaits us all. We fear this, and that fear is entirely natural. But to trump this fear you have gone into death before us… Gone there and through it back to life. And here you have a given us a bold and certain promise… You have so love the world that you gave your one and only Son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have life everlasting.  We trust you and your love and labor on our behalf. We trust you that life can be and is forever with you… In Jesus…”

A state of emergency has been declared in parts of Jamaica following the extradition of alleged druglord Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke. Following the news of his extradition, supporters of Dudus went into a state of unrest trying to protect him. They barricaded themselves into housing projects and set police stations on fire and shot at them. This is certainly an interruption of the peace which the country of Jamaica is known for and puts the land back on the map to be the number one murder capital in the world.  I have personal connection to the country as that is where my family is from and I have several friends who, just this weekend, were in Jamaica, so I’m praying for their safe return. Please join us as we pray for the country and citizens of Jamaica and those who are visiting the country.

Heavenly Father,

Before we ask anything of you, we thank you for the beautiful land of Jamaica. A land rich in resources, culture, beauty and peace. A land which many have taken rest and refuge in from the cares of everyday life. The land which you have created and which you sustain. But now we come to you beseeching your presence in the land and amongst the people. We are asking that anything that is not like you come right out of that land. We are praying for someone courageous enough to stand up against the group consciousness that is arising and tearing Jamaica apart. We are praying for the people not to be held captive in fear of what men may do, but may they stand courageous with hope in your deliverance. Let the true nature of Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke be exposed to the people and to the authorities. For those who are currently in Jamaica on vacation grant them safe passage back here to the states and safety while they navigate the streets of Jamaica. Let no innocent blood be shed. May your justice be served while your people are protected. Hear the cries of your people who are waiting for your hand to rescue them. Let everyone in and outside of Jamaica, connected to Jamaica, with a heart for a Jamaica, watching Jamaica pray for the land and its people. 

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen