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5-5-2016 Christina Forrester
The National Day of Prayer can be a good thing for our country. It is a time to be thankful for the opportunity we have here in the United States to pray freely and openly, whatever denomination, church or religion you belong to. It is a time to pray for our country, for the needs of the world around us, for our leaders. But it should not be used as a time to make prayer a method for getting a political agenda across, or to condemn and judge others or showcase religious “pride.”
We’ve already seen and heard plenty of this today. “Pray that President Obama understands what religious freedom means in our country!” with a meme about trans-bathrooms or gay wedding cakes. “We pray that we can take our country back for God!” – this one comes with all sorts of translations I’d rather not even go into right now. The reason is that I have attended and been part of the worship service for many National Days of Prayer. I’ve sang in them, offered prayers, mobilized youth groups at them. And I remember being very disappointed on multiple occasions that this time that was set aside to bring a variety of churches together to do something special for the community ended up turning into a Right-Wing political rally. There was not nearly enough focus on praying the way Jesus instructed us to pray and for the things He instructed us to pray for! And unfortunately they seldom did much to touch the hurting around us.
Not all prayer-rallies end up this way, but far too many prayer-rallies are conservative political rallies in disguise. And this needs to change. Everything about the prayers Jesus publicly offered and instructed us to offer were done in humility and for the good of the world around us. They were never used to condemn or judge people or get across any kind of agenda other than the lifting up of those who were down and the encouragement of believers and for the glory of God. Jesus taught humility and not pride in our prayers. Pride in public prayer is praying like the hypocrites and Pharisees, “for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others.” I propose today that besides praying for the safety of our troops, country, wisdom for our leaders, that we pray for the poor, those in prison, those without access to healthcare and clean water, those addicted to substances that are killing their bodies, for a renewing of love and mercy in our country, respect in our discourse. We all join together today, virtually. For where two or more join together online…
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
but deliver us from the evil one.[b]’
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Christina Forrester is Executive Director and Founder of Christian Democrats of America. @Christinaof9