Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple

A Prayer for the MercyMe Bus Crash

posted by nsymmonds

Early on Saturday morning, a MercyMe tour bus going through a greenlight collided with a car that suddenly made a left turn. Three of the passengers in the car, Barbara Schmucker, 17, her boyfriend Dario Boutte, 19, and the baby of the pregnant driver, Kara Klinker, 18, died. Klinker is in critical condition. No one on the MercyMe bus was hurt. We ask you to join us in prayer for the Schmucker and Klinker families and the members of MercyMe along with all of those who were on the tour bus.

Heavenly Father,

I ask that you would be with the families of Barbara Schmucker, Dario Boutte and Kara Klinker as they grieve their respective losses. Comfort them in their time of mourning and let their weeping endure for the night but their joy come in the morning. May the families be empowered to keep going by the memories of their loved ones. Be at the bedside of Kara Klinker as she is in critical condition. Heal the wounds of her womb and ease the pain that she is experiencing. Speak into her life and let her know that this is not the end. Let her know there is hope in you. I also pray for everyone who was on the MercyMe tour bus and the members of MercyMe. I know it must be painful to watch young lives pass away and I pray that you would comfort them. Help the memory not haunt them in discouragement, but let it become a part of their ministry. For every person involved in this tragedy, I pray your strength be upon their lives. For any need that I have not prayed for, you already know it God. Attend to the needs of your children. May all hearts turn to you in prayer.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen 

The Smell of Injustice and the Incense of Prayer

posted by Mark Herringshaw

 

In Six Prayers God Always Answers, Jennifer Schuchmann and I argue that pleas for justice are one of the appeals that always move God to action.  We sometimes imagine that God values passive self deprecation.  Wrong!  In the Bible we find countless examples of people who move God’s heart when their own hearts feel broken and angry.  Here’s an excerpt from our book.

 

We’re born with fully developed injustice sensors. We can sniff out unfairness from the first time someone divides a cookie and gives us the smaller half. At that age, maybe two or three, our vocabulary is limited but even words aren’t necessary. Our tears say “That’s not fair!” before our words can.

 

But as we age, our vocabulary and our ability to detect greater injustices, grow.

“She got more!”

“He cheated!”

“I was here first.”

“You like him better.”

 “That’s mine.”

“Hers is bigger.”

“He got to pick last time.”

“She’s on my side of the board room.”

 

This isn’t learned behavior–toddlers don’t grow up watching Mommy and Daddy fight over who got the larger cup of coffee–this is inborn. Our sense of righteousness, our desire for justice, is in the package we receive at birth. We’re hardwired to recognize what’s fair and what’s not. And to complain loudly when it’s not.

 

In a violent neighborhood in north Minneapolis, Alywyn Foster opens the gym doors of Hospitality House at 3:00 p.m.. Thirty minutes later, the place is packed with kids looking for a warm, safe, and welcoming place to hang out. Foster sets up court just off center court. His role is something of a mongrel cross between big brother, county court judge, boxing referee, and school vice principal. He calls the kids by name. “Eddie! Hey . . . none of that!” But mostly, the kids referee their own games. Foster steps in only when things get rough.

 

“That was a foul!” shouts Alec.

“No way!” argues Eddie.

“You fouled me. Now give me the ball,” insists Alec.

 

They stand toe to toe. Their argument is telling. Neither denies the existence of fouls, or whether fouls should be overlooked. Every 12-year-old knows that a foul is a foul and that basketball wouldn’t exist without some established set of standards. What Eddie and Alec scuffle over is whether that particular elbow-to-the-ribs was a foul.

 

Justice and injustice are a given, and every kid knows the bottom line–even those raised on the streets where justice so often seems perverted. That’s why pick-up games, even in the most unruly neighborhoods, are remarkably self-contained. Foster is simply there to teach the rules, not to create an awareness that there are rules.  

 

Paul of Tarsus, the first public broadcaster of Christian ideas, wrote in a letter to believers living in Rome that the concept of right and wrong is written into the heart of every human being. Everyone, he said, has justice encoded. It’s like a preference for pretty faces or broad shoulders; it’s part of our genetic code.

 

The ancient Hebrews didn’t stand around discussing justice, they simply prayed for it to come. Jeremiah took his case directly to God. “Lord, you always give me justice when I bring a case before you. Now let me bring you this complaint: Why are the wicked so prosperous? Why are evil people so happy?” The Hebrews prayed this way because they believed God cared deeply about righteousness. The prophet Amos rampaged through the streets crying out on behalf of God, “. . . I want to see a mighty flood of justice, a river of righteous living that will never run dry.” Amos’s oracle was a cry for justice. 

 

What do our cries for justice look like?

“It’s not fair!”

“Did you see what he did to me?”

“It’s my turn.

 

In adult terms, our prayers might sound something like:

            “What did I do to deserve that?”

            “He should be locked up for life!”

            “Why doesn’t somebody do something about that?”

 

Like Jeremiah, are we provoked to pray when we see injustices? Could our cries for a remedy, our desire for things to be righted, actually be in response to God?

 

Have you ever felt ashamed of your anger?  Have you ever felt condemned for your passion for justice and your hatred of injustice?  What if your anger is not all wrong?  Could it be that you are expressing God’s heart?  Yes, there are wrong ways to express anger but can you take your anger and use it as fuel for prayer?  Try it today.  Try it now.

 

 

 

Angry Prayers: The Bible Gives Permission

posted by Mark Herringshaw

There is nothing stoic about the Psalms.  As a collection of Israel’s worship songs the Psalms capture the heart of the Jews’ heart for God.  The Hebrews do not separate their thoughts and theology from their passion.  Their worship is filled with emotion.  No poet of the Psalms expresses this connection of heart and head more than David.  King David is credited as author of a majority of these songs. His works are filled with joy, sorrow, hope and yes, anger.

 

David was keenly aware of injustices inflicted against others and himself and had no hesitation asking God to remedy the situation. 

 

Consider Psalm 64 (NLB):

 1 O God, listen to my complaint.
      Protect my life from my enemies’ threats.
 
2 Hide me from the plots of this evil mob,
      from this gang of wrongdoers…
Here, David appeals to God to side with him against the unjust. He asks for tangible protection, knowing that God too feels the fire of anger against what is evil.

 

Next, David spells out specifics injustices he’s observed and personally suffered. He pulls no punches. Woven between his words flows a subtext of indignation.  

3 They sharpen their tongues like swords
      and aim their bitter words like arrows.
 
4 They shoot from ambush at the innocent,
      attacking suddenly and fearlessly.
 
5 They encourage each other to do evil
      and plan how to set their traps in secret.
      “Who will ever notice?” they ask.
 
6 As they plot their crimes, they say,
      “We have devised the perfect plan!”
      Yes, the human heart and mind are cunning.

 

David then pushes past anger and fear to declare what he knows about God and about God’s justice.

 7 But God himself will shoot them with his arrows,
      suddenly striking them down.
 
8 Their own tongues will ruin them,
      and all who see them will shake their heads in scorn.

 

He concludes with a confession of faith – what is not yet reality – acknowledging how his case will end: God and the Godly will prevail.

 9 Then everyone will be afraid;
      they will proclaim the mighty acts of God
      and realize all the amazing things he does.
 
10 The godly will rejoice in the Lord
      and find shelter in him.
   And those who do what is right
      will praise him.

 

Pray angry! There’s Biblical precedent that cries for justice can be statements of faith!

Prayer as Anger Management

posted by Mark Herringshaw

Last week a friend sent me a link to a website featuring articles about “anger management.”  I’m not sure if he felt I needed this information, but he did ask what I thought about the approach.  I had to tell him the truth: the site made me a bit angry.

 

The gist of their message is that anger in itself is counter-productive.  The authors admit a Buddhist worldview and state up front that they believe anger stems from “unfulfilled desires.”  This is consistent with classic Buddhism. Suffering, according to Buddha’s teaching comes from unsatisfied passion. His solution: we must extinguish all desire, and passively accept life as it comes. Resignation, Buddha taught brings peace.  We must cease striving and acquiesce.  This form of “anger management” means essentially eliminating emotion as well as the capacity for emotion. I must kill desire itself. 

 

Not me. I’m not willing to resign from desire; God help me if I ever am!  Acceptance is no way for me to handle suffering, or the emotions sparked by suffering.  If something is wrong, if injustice intrudes, then I WILL welcome anger, because anger can motivate change. The truth is, I do get angry, but not angry enough, and not always about the right things.  If by anger management we mean directing our passion toward real change, well and good.  But if we mean to castrate fury for passivity, count me out!  When something is truly wrong with the world, I want to feel the pain of that wrong and strive to see it righted.

 

Take for instance the plight of 27,000,000 people held as slaves today.  Yes, that’s 27,000,000!  And what should be my response?  To know that, I must first ask how God feels.  Does he take sides in the mattter of human trafficking?  Absolutely he does!  God hates injustice and grows angry over it. When a child is sexually abused, or a widow is robbed of her savings, God feels fury.  And so should I.   

 

Personally I’m not very comfortable expressed emotions.  Experiences I had as a child taught me that feelings can be dangerous.  I learned to monitor them and to try to control them carefully.  But I no longer believe this is healthy. I am beginning to proactively identify and express my emotions.

 

But beyond letting fostering healthy anger, what should I do with it?  I must act where I can, yes, but I also must pray and ask God to act where I cannot act.  Healthy anger can motivate me to appeal to God to bring justice and stop injustice.  Prayer is what I can do in the face of an injustice when otherwise my hands would be tied. Prayer is my best anger management.

 

“God may I love the things you love, hate the things you hate, weep over what breaks your heart, and laugh and dance with you when you are delighted. Share with me your heart!  And when I come upon something that grieves you, remind me to pray and ask you to intervene and make the change.”   

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