by ProfDave, ©2021

(May 5, 2021) — In May 6, 2010 I wrote: Pray today – and every day – for our nation. It’s a sad day when prayer is politicized. Since the inauguration the administration’s attitude towards the public recognition of God has been cooling. The NDP Committee (then Franklin Graham, Shirley Dobson and others) were clearly not regarded as friends of the White House. Things are the same in 2021. 

But the whole point of a National day of prayer was supposed to be the President leading the nation to the throne of the Almighty, acknowledging the sovereignty of God over America.  That’s the way it has always been since George Washington and the Continental Congress.   No legislation was required in those days – it was an executive order joined by the Congress.  “Under God” wasn’t in the pledge – everybody assumed it.  The fortunes of America were determined by the Eternal, not by Wall Street.  The Presidents called the nation to prayer (as the monarchs of Europe had done since Roman times – since Biblical times) because they recognized that God is King over the affairs of men and nations.  That’s something Christians, Jews, and Muslims (at least) should agree on.  Atheists can stay home.  We can use all the help we can get these days, natural and supernatural.

What would non-partisan prayer for America look like?  Certainly not praying for the defeat of the Democrats or of the Republicans.  Christians (at least) are commanded to pray for the authorities so that there will be the civil peace and well-being (shalom) required for righteousness and for the gospel to thrive.  From President Biden to the local policeman they all need divine assistance to carry out their duties – and if they fail, we’re all in trouble.  Praying that they would change their minds on this bill or that is not what the National Day of Prayer is for.  God is not a Republican. 

We all should be praying for national religious revival.  Not that everybody should become Baptist or Roman Catholic or Shiite, but that we all should turn back to God and away from hypocrisy.  For example, what would happen if we all practiced what we profess, walked the talk, lived in the Presence all week?  If Jews really followed the moral and ethical teachings of Moses and Christians really did love their neighbors?  Our nation would be a lot better off if even the atheists would be better atheists. 

We all should be praying for a national renaissance of ethics.  A chasm has opened up among us between traditional and progressive views of right and wrong.  In that sense, we have lost moral consensus in America.  But cutting across all the competing ethical standards is the failure to do the right thing according to what we know and profess.  Instead, we do what seems to be to our advantage, as long as we can get away with it.  The daily litany of political corruption, corporate greed, sexual abuse and exploitation is only the tip of the iceberg.  We are papering it over with ever increasing regulation and repression even while our own compliance with the law is ebbing away.  God grant Americans the wisdom to know the right thing and the courage to do it.

We all should be praying for a national return to truth.  Relativism has gone sour.  We need to stop pretending to know what we don’t know and to not know what we do know.  Do you know what I mean?  And stop trying to fool ourselves and others.  We certainly aren’t fooling God!  Can’t agree on what the truth is?  Then represent the truth you believe as honestly and openly as you can, being fair and kind to those who disagree, and have faith in the moral fabric of the Universe to reveal the real Truth in the end.  God grant Americans to pursue the truth with honesty and to find it – in Him.

Finally, we all should be praying for a national renewal of respect for our common humanity.  There is only one race of homo sapiens.   We need to treat each person as a sacred individual, as rare as a diamond and as distinct as a snowflake.  Breaking down society into protected stereotypes has gone about as far as it can go.  Respect doesn’t work like that.  With all the political, cultural, and moral polarization in our society these days there’s a lot of anger going around.  It is easy to demonize those who disagree with us, often as much victims as perpetrators of the bad ideas they represent.  Respect is valuing another person, like or unlike, agree or disagree, and whether or not you approve of their behavior on any given day.  Christians, at least, are supposed to love their enemies.  We need help in doing it.  May God grant Americans to see each other as He sees them.

David W. Heughins (“ProfDave”) is Adjunct Professor of History at Nazarene Bible College.  He holds a BA from Eastern Nazarene College and a PhD in history from the University of Minnesota.  He is the author of Holiness in 12 Steps (2020).  He is a Vietnam veteran and is retired, living with his daughter and three grandchildren in Connecticut.

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