Prayer, Plain and Simple

Happy Labor Day – a time to rest. Traditionally this is how it works. We labor; then we rest. We push and pull and put nose to grindstone, then when we’re spent and finished with the job, we pull up and ease our tired bones. Work to rest. This was the pattern in the Old Testament. God labored for six days and then rested on the seventh. This seems to be the pattern he prescribes for us. Work after all is good. We’re made to be productive. And one of the Commandments calls on us to rest on the seventh day…

But… Consider the deeper mystery here. God created humans on the sixth day, his last day of labor. The man and woman spent their first full day of being in God’s day of rest. In other words, they began with rest, not work. This is a fundamental truth that is well expressed in the Christian rhythm: we begin our week with a day of rest. We start on Sunday, resting and worshipping and related to those closest to us. We then move to work, but it is work from rest not work to rest.

Today as we honor labor as a movement in our culture and as a core concept of human life, let’s recall the true pattern God has prescribed. We work from rest. Rest comes first. Then we labor toward a productive end.


A man identified as James Jay Lee, who once protested the Discovery Channel, has stormed the network’s Maryland headquarters carrying a gun. He apparently has a bomb strapped to his chest. Witnesses say he has taken a small number of hostages.  At the moment police are attempting to negotiate with him for the release of those taken. Lee has in the past protested various causes related to overpopulation and environmental troubles. He has written that human beings are a blight on the planet…

“God we pray now for the resolution of the hostage crisis in Maryland. We pray for those now in harm’s way. We pray for James Lee, that you will bring peace to his soul, that you will settle his frustration, and calm his anger. Give wisdom to the police attempting to free the hostages. Bring your Spirit in power to that building. Bind the forces of darkness and resolve this crisis without bloodshed. In Jesus was ask this…”


President Obama has announced the official end of U.S. military actions in Iraq. 50,000 troops will remain behind because Iraq hasn’t yet formed a coalition government and the threat of violence from insurgents remains high. We’re leaving having spent blood and treasure to free a nation. Iraqis themselves must now spend their own blood and treasure to secure that freedom.


It’s not a time to announce “Peace!” Peace isn’t what we have in Iraq. What we do have is a shift of responsibility. And if history is any indication peace will elude them. Let us pray otherwise.


“God, bless Iraq with peace. Show them the path to your blessing. Apart from you we humans can do nothing. We can do nothing but so the seeds and reap the harvest of our own destruction. Knowing this, accepting this, we recognize that there is no hope for peace without you. We ask for a miracle… Bring peace to Iraq, in Jesus.”




President Obama addresses the nation this evening from the Oval Office to announce the official end of the combat mission in Iraq. He will also discuss the United States’ future strategy in the Iraq.  After seven and a half years of war the U.S. military officially ended its combat operations today and has handed management of the nation to the Iraqis. 50,000 U.S. troops remain in the country to provide assistance to Iraqi security forces.

Still the work in Iraq is far from over. No stable government yet exists in the country and pockets of violence continue to disrupt the establishment of peace.

“God, we pray for Iraq and the Iraqi people. We pray for peace in this ancient but troubled land. We know that you have a destiny for this nation and her people. We know you have a purpose and plan to show your love and power and glory there. We humans can make a mess of the gift of life you give us. Still, you can work your goodness and blessing. In spite of the human-caused traumas in Iraq, we ask you would work your purposes there. Show these people your love and favor and the hope of eternal life with you! In Jesus…”