Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple

A Prayer for People Held Captive

posted by Mark Herringshaw

“God, you are a friend of the oppressed.  Jesus said that he came to release the oppressed.  We believe this, and as Jesus followers we carry forward his mission with our prayers of faith.  We appeal to you, our God on behalf of those who today, in the 21st century are held in slavery against their will. 27,000,000 of your precious children are locked in bondage, as child soldiers in the Congo, sex slaves in Minneapolis, indentured workers in Delhi, sweatshop workers in San Francisco.  This is evil! This is unimaginable. This breaks your heart. May it break ours! Have mercy and act to break these oppressive chains.  Give us wisdom and creativity and courage to be your hands and feet and eyes in this matter.  Defeat the oppressors. Strengthen those who fight against this oppression.  Encourage those who have lost all hope.  Mount a rising tide of indignation against this grave offense, this abomination against those you have created in your own image. May nothing keep them from fulfilling their destiny. God, we ask you now to end modern day slavery in our day. And use us as you well to answer this prayer.  We pray this in the name of Jesus.  Let it be done.”

God as the King of Torts

posted by Mark Herringshaw

 

I am beginning a prayer experiment today.  You’re welcome to join me. 

 

I read again this week Jesus’ story in Luke’s gospel (chapter 18) about a widow who comes to a judge asking for justice. The judge – who is anything but just – ignores her pleas. But she persists, refusing to take no for an answer.  Eventually the judge grows tired of her nagging and grants her request. Jesus says we should pray to God for justice as this woman appealed to the judge – never giving up!  If the judge who was not just responds to persistence, how much more will God respond when we persist asking him to execute justice on our behalf?  I decided to try it.

 

In the Old Testament God said that thieves were required t to pay back twice, and in some cases seven times, what they stole.  This is justice for a wrong suffered to. The  principle still stands.  If my enemy has unjustly taken something from me, I can bring my case to God and ask for justice.  Jesus says God will answer.  If the enemy has stolen health, provision, relationships, or peace of mind, God promises to hear the matter and deliver justice to your case, giving double for what the thief has stolen. Mmmm. But I have to bring the case!

 

So I am running my life through an audit.  I’m checking to see where I have lost value, where I have been wronged or cheated and I am asking god to intervene and recover the loss.  I’ll tell you more specifics tomorrow.

 

Has something been unjustly taken from you? God is on your side. Instead of seeking your own restitution and exacting repayment on your own strength, consider releasing the case to God through prayer.  Give him the freedom to act.  This is the Biblical process of forgiveness.  Turn the case over into God’s hands and then ask him to bring about justice on your behalf.

 

How?  Here are five steps of prayer if you have suffered unjustly:

  1. Thank God for his justice and for his commitment to defend what is right.
  2. Acknowledge that you have been unjustly treated, and name the details to God.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 &nbsp
    ;                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
  3. Give God your right to justice and release to him the responsibility to fix things.
  4. Ask him to bring to you a just settlement in this matter.
  5. Thank him ahead of time for his fairness and mercy.

     

 

 

What Does God Want from Me? Justice, Mercy, Humility

posted by Mark Herringshaw

I often make life – and particularly my relationship with God – much too complicated.  I imagine an endless list of obligations, “shoulds,” and “musts.”  But really walking with God is simple and straightforward.  One Old Testament prophet named Micah framed it like this:

 

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
            And what does the LORD require of you?
            To act justly and to love mercy
            and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8).

 

To act with justice, mercy and humility is all God requires.  When I pray I would do well to remember this simple prescription.  If I live making just, merciful, and humble choices, and if I approach God praying for justice mercy and humility, then I please him.

 

“God, your ways are not a mystery.  You’ve told me the way.  Teach me justice.  Give me justice in my heart and a strong passion for your justice in the world.  May I work for and pray for the triumph of what is right!  And this began in the relationships closest to me.  You have shown me mercy; show me how to extend mercy to others.  I come to you in humility.  That is all, and all you require!”

Provoked to Prayer

posted by Mark Herringshaw

The title Six Prayers God Always Answers is someone audacious, I admit. But I truly do believe that God does always listen and always respond.  We simply need to learn to pray expected, and listen for his hand.  In the book I argue that prayers for justice – that god would fix something that is wrong – always move him t to action.  I believe this because god himself hates evil and he shares this page with us to motivate us to stand with against it.  Here’s another excerpt.

 

Often we’re provoked to prayer not because of the situation itself, but because of the emotion that rises within us.

 

The same energy that lies deep below the surface of Yellowstone is reminiscently similar to the wild, untamed passion that bubbles under our exterior. Usually, this molten fury lies buried deep in our core, capped off by a resolute ego that diligently guards us from the dangers of our own impulses. But at certain places and times at church… our passions burst through.

 

When we want the murderer sentenced to life in prison, the thief punished, the hostile driver ticketed, the insolent child scolded, or the gossiper called on the carpet, not only are we recognizing the injustices around us, we can become provoked to anger over the situation.

 

We have varying thermostats. Our anger can be unexpectedly awakened by a spouse breaking a promise, a driver who cuts in front of us during rush-hour traffic, or by a neighborhood bully who threatens our child. A spark of anger ignites within us and to fuel the flames turning our careful constraints into a wide-sweeping, fast-moving, and dangerous inferno.

 

We lose control.

 

One petty injustice awakes something in us wilder and far more powerful than our own self-control.

 

Injustice unleashes our anger. This emotional eruption means a line has been crossed, a standard has been broken. Could our anger be more than emotion though? Could it be a sign of moral health?

 

Like a fever signaling an infection, maybe our anger signals that the proper order of things has been compromised. There’s a problem to address. And often we want to address it ourselves.

 

Every breathing human has at some point tasted the toxic desire for revenge. When it doesn’t come on its own, we’re not above taking justice into our own hands. Interactive Web sites like www.thepayback.com provide tools for victims plotting and executing retaliation against wrongs suffered. Our passion to make things right often drives us to the point of personal retaliation and vengeance.

 

A wrong.

Anger.

Revenge.

 

How could these things bring us closer to God?

 

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis claims that moral judgments, evident in the anger we feel over a wrong suffered, are perhaps the strongest argument for the existence of a moral God.

 

Does anger at injustice argue the existence of God?

 

If he is a God of justice, and we’re made in his image, perhaps our anger is more than an emotional reaction.

 

Maybe it is a movement toward God.

 

When rage raises its demanding head and grabs the wheel of our lives, we may feel farthest from God. We feel anything but “spiritual.” In reality, however, these may be the moments we are closest to–and maybe even most like–God.

 

Justice matters to us, but it also matters to God. Perhaps that is why we instinctively cry out to him when we experience injustice.

“God, thank you for this sense of justice in my heart.  Thank you for bringing closer to you by sharing with me your intolerance for evil.  Keep me from turning my anger into more evil. May I use his passion and pain as motivation to ask you to change what I cannot change.  I pray this in Jesus’ name.”

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