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Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Freelance: FEAR

I'm generally pretty fearless—much to my husband's dismay. I believe that if one fears God, one need fear nothing else. This certainly doesn't justify foolishness (though it is said that fools rush in where angels fear to tread).

Anyway, this principle wasn't in mind when I recently led a prayer. Before I go further, please allow an explanation about some principles I do keep in mind when asking God for something.

First of all, "Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise." When approaching God in prayer, praising and thanking Him for what He's already done helps give one the proper perspective while asking for something else.

Second of all, pray according to the will of God. Like I tell my kids, "You don't ask for brownies before dinner because you already know my will in the matter. If you mention to me that you ate your dinner (including the stuff you don't care for) and finished after-dinner chores, and then you request brownies, you're far more likely to receive an okay."

Third, if it's possible, pray in a manner that answered prayer is evident. Answered prayers are opportunity to praise and thank God (see first principle, above). God rightly seeks glory, so it makes sense to pray in a manner that provides an opportunity to later give Him glory.

When it comes to giving God glory, He's particularly sensitive about His name. No less than 32 Bible verses mention something occurring for the sake of God's name. A number of times, God even did something for His name's sake when He indicated He was otherwise not inclined to do so.

Anyway, a situation once occurred which greatly burdened my heart for the way God's name was being dishonored. I fervently asked Him for something for no other reason than His name's sake. That prayer was answered in a big way. So in this other instance of His name being dishonored, I again asked Him to answer prayer for His name's sake.

This year I was asked to lead prayer on behalf of government at a National Day of Prayer event. If you're inclined to read it, the entire two-minute prayer appears below. This is how the prayer ended:

Everlasting God, the United States is known in the world as a Christian nation. We are unworthy to bear Your great name, and yet Your name is upon us. And so we do not ask these things for our own sake, but for the sake of Your name, by which we are called.

It occurred to me in recent days that when we prayed (dozens others said "amen" and "yes, Lord" while I led) and corporately owned up to our nation's sin on May 1st, we did more than give our Father the admission He waits for. We also reminded Him that His name is being smeared by our actions.

If confession is followed by an attitude of genuine repentance, it will surely receive mercy. If not, the Lord may be compelled to act with even stronger measures, if only for His name's sake—especially now that we brought it up.

My hope was to move the arm of God. I now fear which direction our prayer could move it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Our Father God Almighty, we come before Your throne in the name of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. We praise You for the liberty we have through His blood.

Creator and Ruler of heaven and earth, we bless You for Your goodness to the United States of America. Thank You for blessing us with freedoms of religion, and speech, and peaceful assembly, by which we gather here this morning. Thank You for blessing with wisdom those rulers who have led our country to fear God. Thank You that even in the midst of economic distress, You still grant to us life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the most prosperous society the world has known.

Great and awesome God, who is faithful to Your covenant with Your people, we humble ourselves and confess to You that we have sinned. Righteousness belongs to You, O Lord our God. But to us belongs shame of face for all our evil. Shame belongs to our president, to our governor, and to our local leaders; shame belongs to our senators and legislators; shame belongs to our justices and judges. Shame belongs to each one of us because of our nation’s wickedness.

Most High God, we seek Your face on behalf of our nation. Please revive fear of God in our people. Please provide godly counsel and wisdom to our government officials as they lead us through perilous times. Please turn the hearts of our rulers to act in accordance with Your will, and purge corruption from them. Please encourage and strengthen those who rule according to Your righteousness.

Lord of Hosts, when You allow us to take up arms, please lead us in paths of righteousness. Please show us how and when to lay down our arms. Please guide and protect our soldiers, our police officers, and all those who put their lives at risk for our security. Do not permit their enemies to prevail against them.

Everlasting God, the United States is known in the world as a Christian nation. We are unworthy to bear Your great name, and yet Your name is upon us. And so we do not ask these things for our own sake, but for the sake of Your name, by which we are called.


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