- - Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Culture challenge of the week: Complain or pray?

How often do you gripe about high taxes, stupid laws and bad politicians? It is incredibly easy to become discouraged about the direction our country is heading. When you are discouraged, it’s even easier to start blaming and complaining.

But why is it that we are so quick to complain and so slow to pray?

Whether we feel it is justified or not, all our grumbling ends in anger, bitterness and discontent. Any parent understands that complaining isn’t simply unproductive; it is counterproductive. Yet it comes so naturally when things don’t work out the way we want them to.

Most Americans claim belief in God, but we just aren’t that into prayer. If we really believed in God, if we really believed in his goodness and his power, wouldn’t prayer be a top priority?

Hosea 7:14 says, “They do not cry to me from the heart, but they wail upon their beds.”

What a powerful image. We are so quick to complain — to wail upon our beds — and so slow to take our complaints to the God who has the resources and ability to fix what is broken.

Abraham Lincoln eloquently explained the American sentiment toward prayer:

“We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!”

Awesome things happen when we unite to pray. Consider:

In 1775, the Continental Congress requested that the Colonies pray to God for guidance. Soon afterward, our great country was formed.

In 1863, after the Union Army lost to Confederate forces at the Battle of Bull Run, Lincoln declared a national fast day. He asked all Americans to take part in the time-tested strategy, and it saved the country.

In his proclamation appointing the day of fasting, Lincoln summarized why it is crucial that we pray for our nation: “It is the duty of all nations as well as men to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.”

Congress and President Truman declared an annual National Day of Prayer in 1952. President Reagan signed a bill into the law in 1988 officially setting aside the first Thursday in May for the observance.

Today, the National Day of Prayer Task Force (NationalDayOfPrayer.org) heads up the movement toward national prayer. My wonderful friend Shirley Dobson leads the effort and does so in a humble, powerful way. I encourage you to take a few minutes to look over the website and consider joining the effort to bring our nation to prayer this year.

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