Crazy Idea

November 6, 2012

Prayer

The last few weeks,  I have had this idea, this crazy idea.  It’s an idea that was birthed when I came back with a church camp type “high” from a visit to the House of Prayer Church of the Nazarene in Cali, Columbia to the realities of life in America and it’s intense, polarizing and often ugly rhetoric in the closing weeks of the 2012 Presidential campaign and election.

IMG_1227In Cali, I had witnessed some of the most joyful Christians that I’ve ever met who lived lives bathed in prayer and intentional discipleship. I met young people excited about a 4 AM prayer meeting and sharing Jesus and His love with their neighbors.  I heard testimonies of people who believed God still worked miracles and cared for their neighbors, the poor and broken.  In a city that had been known for its drug cartel and crime, I witnessed a soccer stadium filled with people singing praises to God.   That night in the soccer stadium, they honored the city mayor on stage.   They were intentional to honor and pray for their elected leaders.  Yet, this church that prayed had their hope in some ONE other than those officials and in some place else than just their government.  I had the sense that when they prayed  “Thy Kindgom Come”, it wasn’t just words. They really believed God wanted to invade their city with His kingdom.

IMG_1101As I returned to the US, reality set in.    If you read many of the posts on Facebook or talked to “concerned” church folks, apparently God was pretty nervous about the election.   Of course, it all depended on you listened or talked to on which issues and which candidates God was most nervous about.    Apparently, the God that’s worshipped in the American church hasn’t been taking his medication.  I can only assume that’s the reason for his nervousness and schizophrenia.    I’m joking of course but not about the intense rhetoric or fear or even some times anger that I’ve heard.   I expect that kind of rhetoric from the world but not so much for those claiming to follow Christ. Sadly, though, I don’t recall very many people talking about prayer.  How many “Christians”  were really praying for President Obama  and/or Governor Romney?  How many people were praying for our country? And praying to see issues as well as the people involved with those issues through His eyes?   How much was I praying myself (ouch!)?

Then, I got this crazy idea.  What would happen if those who called themselves Christians in American and if churches in the US really started to pray.   I know this is a really crazy idea. But what if we fasted talk radio, political news shows and articles for a season or two and really prayed?  What if we believed God was really more powerful than politicians and politics?   What if the answer wasn’t a political kingdom but kneeling at the foot of the cross?   Now, I know it’s a crazy idea because the truth is it’s much easier to listen to the pundits and the radioheads than it is to start taking words like “grace” and “love for your enemies” and pray for those who persecute you” seriously.  You’ll cause much less of fuss, if you’ll  just keep passing out flag buttons, and ignore passages of scripture like “Blessed are the peace-makers!

Now my Spanish isn’t very good (muy, muy poco), and  I was only in Cali a few days, but I didn’t  hear a lot of political rumbling in the church there..   My perspective is limited though and I am certain that they discuss politics issues at times.  However, my impression is that they spend much more time in prayer and intercession and intentionally connecting with their neighbors.  And the House of Prayer Congregation lives in an expectation of  God actively working in their lives, in their city and  their community.

This isn’t to say that there isn’t a place for respectful  political debate and dialog in the church on tough issues.  Obviously, we need to be actively engaged and attempt to live our call to be a prophetic voice in the world.   However, my fear is that we (and I) have often missed our first call. b0215844_23321160

Jerry Porter spoke of a young man from the Cali Church who has been living in America.   He said something like this, “Brother Jerry, I miss my church in Cali.  I miss praying with my church.  The American Nazarenes and the American Christians are amazing people. They are so kind and friendly. They at awesome at potlucks and eating out.  Really great with fellowship over food” (Note to self and other Nazers: PTL, we got that one down!)  The young man continued  “And they have helped me in a lot of ways.   They are really good people but….But they don’t pray.  I miss praying like we pray in Cali.”

And I know that it’s not just the Church of the Nazarene in America. I think that is most of the American church regardless of denomination or affiliation.  We talk about prayer, and we even have some “prayer meetings”  but how many of us actually pray?  And how much of our prayer meetings are really devoted to prayer and allowing ourselves to be broken over the things that break God’s heart?  Could it be that maybe, just maybe the problem in America, isn’t the lack of prayer in schools, or in the places of government or the lack of prayer by government officials?   Could it be that America suffers because of a lack of prayer in our churches and by those of us calling ourselves Christ followers?

Forgive me, Lord!  Please, teach me how to pray!

(Note: The article above was conceived in Oct. and written in early November but is just not getting posted)

 
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