Organizers of the National Day of Prayer were upset that President Obama did not officially participate in the observation. He said he would pray privately-a biblical ideal-as he does every day, the president’s spokesman said. His only public acknowledgement was to issue a White House proclamation. Well, I’m kind of glad. I’m tired of politicians who take the name of the Lord in vain, that is, acknowledge God publicly and then don’t honor God publicly. Please tell me how someone who supports abortion on demand, homosexuality, and generational theft by government edict should serve as the national spokesman for a day of prayer.
Of course, President Obama is not the first president not to acknowledge an official observance. There were no official observances during the Clinton administration. While President George W. Bush did hold a formal White House event during his tenure as president, the Bush White House also recognized the Islamic observance of Ramadan with a White House dinner. As a fiend commented, “responding publicly to such a call for prayer would be to endorse the polytheistic nature of that call, to place Jesus in the Pantheon with all the other gods of our culture.” Amen!
Maybe God is telling His people something this year. Joshua expected a victory against Ai. Israel won its first encounter with Jericho without a casualty. Why should the battle with Ai be any different? The spies thought Ai was weak enough that only “two or three thousand men need go up” (Joshua 7:3). Thirty-six Israelites were killed, and the rest were pursued and assaulted by the men of Ai with the result that “the hearts of the people melted and became as water” (v. 5). Bible believing Christians are disheartened with the way things are going in Washington and what may be coming down the political pike.
You know what the Israelites were thinking. “Maybe we should not have ventured to participate in this social thing. We were at least safe when we were ghettoized beyond the Jordan.” There was even fear that things would get a lot worse once the “Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land” heard about the defeat (v. 9). Joshua, voicing these concerns to God, did what today’s political remorseful are recommending. “Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell on the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until evening, both he and the elders of Israel” (v. 7). In a word, he prayed . . . hard. What did God tell him to do? “So the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Rise up! Why is it that you have fallen on your face? Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them'” (v. 11). In effect, God told Joshua to stop praying and act on the evil that brought them the defeat!
Prayer is not a magical formula, an incantation that brings forth God like a Genie from a bottle. Prayer is an admission of weakness. It is in weakness that God can best use us (2 Cor. 12:10). But true faith and trust are not exercised if we do not act on the belief that God will work for us even in our weakness. Prayer is not the end but the beginning of the work God has called us to do. J. I. Packer says it this way:
The Spirit does what he does. His supernaturalizing of our lives enables Christians, as a matter of fact, to do much for the Lord that they wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. That’s the whole doctrine of gifts and ministry. It’s my part to see what God calls me to do, to ask the Lord to enable me to do it, then to get up off my knees and go confidently into action, watching to see what help I shall be given, and finally to give thanks for what the Spirit did in and through me.
There is sin in the Christian camp. Entire denominations support abortion and homosexuality. Those who claim to be Bible-believing Christians maintain that abortion (I have a letter to prove it) should be a protected right and homosexuals should have special rights protecting behavior that the Bible calls an “abomination.” The sins of Achan-“the mantle of Shinar” (humanism) and “silver and gold” (mammon)-are the sins of the church.
After we fall on our face, let’s be careful not to cover our ears. We might just hear God’s voice saying to us, “Rise up!”