Thursday, October 10, 2013

Save us from the maddness.

During a week in which most news about the government shutdown has simply reported that there’s no new news to report, one person is making headlines for his provocative words on the floor of the Senate. No, there’s no renegade Senator deviating from his party’s talking points. Instead, Barry Black, the Senate Chaplain, has started praying morning prayers that have turned this normally tame ritual into the talk of the town. Last Thursday he prayed:

Have mercy upon us, O God, and save us from the madness. We acknowledge our transgressions, our shortcoming, our smugness, our selfishness, and our pride. Create in us clean hearts, O God, and renew a right spirit within us. Deliver us from the hypocrisy of attempting to sound reasonable while being unreasonable. Remove the burdens of those who are the collateral damage of this government shutdown, transforming negatives into positives as you work for the good of those who love you. We pray in your merciful name, amen.
Yesterday’s prayer was even more pointed as he blasted those responsible for the shutdown over the fact that death benefits to the families of fallen soldiers have been delayed by the shutdown. These have been impressive, prophetic prayers, and both Democrats and Republicans have taken notice. Some have even responded favorably to his prayer. Of course, by favorably, I mainly mean, they think the prayer is spot on for the other side.

We’re like that aren’t we? We love to hear words of condemnation from on high, so long as they are aimed at our opponents. Just so we’re clear, such a response is not actually responding favorably to the Lord’s correction. Our first words upon hearing a tough word from the Lord should always be words of humility: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).

Smugness? Hypocrisy? Pride? It’s not just politicians who need to confess such things. Far too often, those words also describe me.

Have mercy upon us, O God, save us from the madness, indeed.

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