In the wake of the horrible terrorist attack in California, the attack in Paris, and mass shootings across the country, many seem to be asking, “Where’s God?” The front page of the NY Daily News shouts “GOD ISN’T FIXING THIS.” Political leaders are boycotting calls for a moment of silence by refusing to stand in observance. They claim a moment of silence isn’t enough. As a Christian, I agree. It isn’t enough.
Imagine the insurance commercial that depicts three grandmas viewing a wall of pictures in one’s home. The owner is describing the “friends on her wall.” The grandma in the know tries to correct her, but she is quickly told, “I unfriend you.” In her frustration, she exclaims, “That’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works!” As I watch scenes of hatred unfold in our social newsfeeds and our world proclaims God isn’t listening, I want to yell, “That’s not how it works! That’s not how any of this works!”
Let’s be honest and really say what it means to have a moment of silence. It’s a politically correct way for anyone who wants to speak telepathically to the deity of their choice, or stand very still for 30 – 60 seconds as a symbol of respect for those immediately affected by the tragedy at hand. Sixty seconds of the game 1,2,3 Quiet and Still. That, my friend, is not how prayer works.
According to The Strongest NASB Exhaustive Concordance, the word “pray” is written in 109 verses in the NASB. This does not include other versions of the word, such as praying or prayed. Most of these verses relay a specific request. In Genesis, Jacob prays to be delivered from “the hand of my brother.” Moses prayed to see God’s glory and later for the healing of Miriam. Jesus tells us in Matthew to pray for those who persecute us. The commonality among most of the 100+ verses is the specific nature of the prayer to our Heavenly Father. Jesus didn’t tell his disciples to sit quietly and still before He entered the Garden of Gethsemane. He told them to specifically pray they would not enter into temptation. As Christians, we are to pray our governmental leaders will make decisions according to God’s will – whether they realize God’s will or not. We are to pray for His guidance in all aspects of our security and well-being – whether those with the power recognize His guidance or not.
Unfortunately, being specific, however, does not guarantee an answer. One of the biggest misuses of a bible verse is Matthew 7:7 which states, “Ask and it shall be given to you…” The intent of this verse and others like it in the New Testament is that the petition is made from a heart in tune with God’s will. In fact, God said He wouldn’t listen to the requests of those who have rejected Him. “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but they will not find me, because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord,” Proverbs 1:28-29. As we call out to God, are we examining our hearts? Are we in tune with His will so our cries will be reflective of His desires for us? I urge each and every one of us to not only stand in silence but fall to our knees. Pray for our government to find and implement solutions to the crises at hand, but most importantly pray for the hearts of ALL participants on both sides of this battle. After all, Paul was a terrorist too – until the transformation of his heart.