Beliefnet
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!”

Iran is in dangerous hands. Delegates from the United States and other nations walked out of the U.N. General Assembly yesterday in protest of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s fiery rant that criticized Washington, Israel, capitalism and the United Nations itself.

 

Crackpot statements from Ahmadinejad are nothing new, but using the platform of the United Nations to threaten the peace of the world takes this leader’s rhetoric to a new low. Tension in the hall grew as the Iranian leader recounted various conspiracy theories about the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, and about Israel’s role in inciting war in the Middle East.

 

“God, protect the world from the demonic insanity of the current Iranian regime. We pray that the many stable and reasonable souls in Iran would find a peaceful way to remove this man and his aids from power. We pray for leadership change, soon and complete. Confuse his counsel. May his threats “fall to the ground” and may his foolish designs come to nothing. We pray for a blessing of peace on and for Iran. May this noble people recover it’s noble past and rise today to meet a new destiny designed by you. May those who know the Prince of Peace in this great nation bring a new miraculous peace there here and now. In the Name of that Prince of Peace…”

Christian students across the country are gathering at their schools this morning to pray before classes began. The annual “See You at the Pole” rally musters students to meet around their school’s flagpole to publicly seek God, pray, read scripture and worship. One and a half million students will participate today.

“God, we join with these young people today all across America who are seeking you and asking for your blessing in their schools, their families, their generation, and this nation. Without you and your blessing we can do nothing. But you promise that the generations that seek you will find you, and will find your blessing. We join with this generation of young people to seek your favor. As a people we have gone our own way. We have forgotten the foundations of faith. Today, we come to admit our need and to ask for your grace to forgive and your grace to find the destiny you intend for us. May this new generation lead the way in following your ways. May new leaders rise from among them, to chart a course of courage back to your heart. In Jesus’ name!”

Denver Broncos wide receiver Kenny McKinley was found dead in his apartment Monday in an apparent suicide. McKinley was 23.

McKinley’s death is the latest in a series of tragedies that have hi the Broncos. Cornerback Darrent Williams was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting on New Year’s Day 2007. Three months later running back Damien Nash collapsed and died following a charity basketball game in St. Louis.

Suicide leaves a scar of immense pain and guilt and on the family and friends of victims of suicide. McKinley’s teammates and his family and friends have to work through not only the sorrow losing him but regrets and second guessing. Each will inevitably ask themself, “What did I miss?” “What could I have done?” “Did I cause him to make this terrible choice?” They will be confused. They will be shamed and broken. They will be angry.

McKinley’s death highlights the terrible tragedies endured by the families and friends of the 30,000 people who take their own lives every year in the U.S.

“God we pray today for the friends and family and teammates of Kenny McKinley. We do not know what terrible inner pain and suffering led him to make this dark and hopeless decision to take his life. We trust you with his soul, knowing that you know all things and your love is perfect. We pray today for all those who suffer with thoughts and temptations to end their lives. Give courage and help. Give those around the insight to see the signs of despair and depression. Give answers and hope. We pray too for those who survive the suicide of a loved one. Give them comfort where there is not natural comfort. Give them yourself! God, this world has great sorrow and suffering. But you above it all are GOOD and true. Today, be the God of love and comfort for those who most need you… Those left behind after a suicide death. In Jesus…”