Beliefnet
Prayer, Plain and Simple

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!”

A massive gun battle between rival drug and migrant trafficking gangs near the U.S. border Thursday has left 21 people dead and at least six others wounded. The fire fight occurred in a sparsely populated area about 12 miles from the Arizona border, near the city of Nogales. The region is a major corridor for illegal immigrant and drug smuggling. . Gangs often fight for control of trafficking routes and often steal “shipments” of illegal migrants from each other. This gun battle takes the level of conflict to a much bolder and bloodier level. Arizona has incited international controversy over its recent passage of law empowering state law enforcement officers to seek identification of suspected illegal immigrants.

Let’s pray…

“God, we pray for peace on the Mexican – Arizona border. We ask that you would intervene and break the grip of drug lords and human traffickers. Give U.S. and Mexican officials courage and wisdom to enforce justice. Protect the victims on both sides of the border. God, this will take a miracle and the solution will take your hand working in many areas. We ask that the demand for drugs in America would be broken. We ask that the demand driving sex trafficking would be broken. We ask that economic conditions in Mexico would improve so that residents there can find hope and reason to remain in their homeland. Work your will of peace and hope in this desperate situation. In Jesus we pray.”

 

More than 1.3 million laid-off workers won’t get their unemployment benefits reinstated before the Independence Day holiday weekend. Republicans in the Senate again successfully filibustered a bill Wednesday night that would continue providing unemployment checks to people laid off for long stretches. The House is slated to vote on a similar measure Thursday, though the Senate’s vote makes the House action a futile gesture. The benefits would have been made available through the end of November, and cost of $33.9 billion which would have been borrowed, adding to the budget deficit.

“God, government is not the solution to our national economic problems or the problems of those individuals suffering without income. You are our provider. We ask today for favor and blessing on those who have suffered lay-offs from work during this economic turndown. For those without income, or with minimal income we ask that you would provide for them in creative and consistent ways. Bring them hope and faith. Guard them against fear and hopelessness. Give them courage and incentive and ideas for how to navigate these crisis in their lives. Provide! It is your nature and your very name. In Jesus name we pray…”

The U.S. Supreme Court dealt a major blow to religious liberty yesterday. In a 5-4 decision the high Court determined that a California law school (Hastings College of Law) can require a Christian group to open its leadership posts to all students, including those who disagree with the organizations statement of faith.

At stake here is a basic question, “What does it mean to belong?” According to the Court inclusion in a population widely defined by the State holds sway over a population narrowly defined by a private organization. In short, a religious body basedwithin a State established institution can not determine its own boundaries. The State now defines identity! So how much more power will the government claim in our own lives and over our private institutions? This decision signals a dangerous shift in the fundamental nature of American life and in particular religious faith.

“God, we thank you for the tradition of religious liberty in the United States. We thank you for the freedom to associate as we choose, to worship as our conscious dictates, and to believe according to the dictates of our convictions. We pray now that you will guard these liberties in an era when our government seems intent on limiting them. Step in by your own direct intervention as well as through the active intervention of your people to stem the tide of governmental intrusion into the spiritual convictions of private citizens. God, we ask for a renewal and revival of faithful passion. Ignite a rising fire of passion in us to stand against this erosion of freedom. Give us courage to defend our rights, and a gentleness and humility to do so with grace and love for those who stand against us. God, bless America, in and under the name and Lordship of Jesus…”