Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal

National Day of Prayer, May 1, 2014 - Special

Volume 4 No. 216 April 30, 2014

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LL Patriarch Ignatius Zakka 1 Iwas

May 1, 2014 is the 40th day Memorial Service for the departed HH Ignatius Zakka I Iwas of blessed memory. Please remember LL HH in your prayers. To learn more of HH, please read the Malankara World Journal Specials:

Issue No 206: April 1, 2014
LL HH Ignatius Zakka 1 Iwas - Special Souvenir Supplement

Issue No 204: March 24, 2014
Theme: LL HH Ignatius Zakka 1 Iwas

TABLE OF CONTENTS
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1. Foreword: National Day of Prayer by Dr. Jacob Mathew, Malankara World

The theme for the USA National Day of Prayer on May 1st, 2014 'One Voice, United in Prayer', is taken from Romans 15:6: 'So that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.' The 2014 theme is all about the need for individuals, corporately and individually, to place their faith in the unfailing character of their Creator, who is sovereign over all governments, authorities, and men." ...

2. How To Participate in the National Day of Prayer

Watch the events live from Washington, DC; participate in local events or in your home.

3. When You Find It Difficult to Focus on Prayer by Fr. Mark

Prayer - all prayer - is a real combat against the proclivities of our fallen nature. God created us to pray naturally: to pray with every breath and with every heartbeat, or, if you will, God created us to adore Him perpetually, in spirit and in truth. The original sin of our first parents was a falling away from prayer, a falling away from perpetual adoration, a break in the ceaseless heart-to-heart and face-to-face in which, and for which, God created man in His own image and likeness.

With the entry of sin into the world, prayer became a struggle. The bitter irony is that, while adoration was, in the beginning, man’s natural state, it became, as a result of sin, something hard to do. ...

4. The Lifeline of Prayer by Shirley Dobson, Chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force

As I learned how to pray and began speaking to the Lord, I sensed His love and care for me. Amid the chaos of our disintegrating family, this little girl found hope and comfort in Jesus. I've been praying and relying on Him ever since.

The many answers to prayer in my life have reinforced my belief in its power and importance. Prayer is our pathway not only to divine protection, but also to a personal, intimate relationship with God. That's why I am so honored to be in my twenty-second year as chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force. I count it a privilege to play a small part in calling people of faith to their knees. ...

5. Still…Under God - Background of the National Day of Prayer by John Bornschein, Vice Chairman, National Day of Prayer Task Force

The National Day of Prayer – a tradition of honoring God that began in 1774 at the First Congress when a minister was asked to open with prayer and to lead Congress in the reading of four chapters of the Bible – is a call to all of God's people to unite in prayer in one voice and one mind (Romans 15:6). It is a concept that was birthed in Scripture when the prophets Ezra and Joel (Ezra 9, Nehemiah 8-9, and Joel 1-3) called for the people to unite in humility and reverence before Almighty God. In fact 2 Chronicles 6:13-42 records that all of Israel gathered together to worship and pray unto God. Although the calendar dates have changed, the need for prayer has not. ...

6. United in Prayer by Dion Elmore, Director, National Day of Prayer

The other day, a friend of mine sent me an email containing an observation that he had made. He was questioning why so many in the church seem to use two particular verses in Matthew, chapter 18, as texts to illustrate prayer. His perspective was that they were not about prayer in specific at all, but in the context, of church discipline. ...

7. Women's World Day of Prayer Movement by Mrs. Nirmala Abraham, World Day of Prayer

World Day of Prayer (WDP) is an international, ecumenical prayer movement initiated and carried out by Christian women across denominations in more than 180 countries and over 1000 languages. It is an annual event conducted for over 87 years, when Christians celebrate a common day of prayer. ...

8. Bread and Stones - Unanswered Prayers by Ryan Duncan

We live in a world full of Sin, and bad things are going to happen. It means that sometimes when God answers our prayers, what is needed turns out to be much different than what we wanted. Maybe you prayed that someone would find a job, but instead God asks you to be a friend in a tough time. Maybe you asked for an opportunity to serve abroad, but instead God tells you to serve the people next door. Sometimes we pray for healing, but what God gives us is a shoulder to cry on. ...

9. 'God, if You…then I'll…': Why You Can't Barter with God by Ben Edwards

Most pagan gods respond to the barter system. You offer sacrifices to a god, and he responds to help you in the way that he can. Thus, you worship the god of travel, and he in return gives you safe travel; you bring a sacrifice to the god of fertility, and he makes you fruitful; or you give to the god of war to make your army successful.

The Christian God is nothing like these pagan gods, which means we have nothing to offer God that would make Him respond by giving us a favor. ...

10. Higher Ways - God's Timing and Prayer by Dr. Gary Chapman

I often meet Christians who are upset because God hasn't answered their prayers - at least not in the way they had hoped or on their time schedule. Being patient with God does not mean believing that he is still in process but believing that he knows - better than we do - that we are still in process. Being patient with God means trusting that he is sovereign and loving. It means believing that his love will not allow him to answer requests that don't line up with his ultimate purposes. ...

11. About Malankara World

Foreword: National Day of Prayer

by Dr. Jacob Mathew, Editor-in-Chief, Malankara World

Investing in Hope... Transforming Through Prayer!

"The mission of the National Day of Prayer Task Force is to mobilize prayer in America (and the world) and to encourage personal repentance and righteousness in the culture."

What a great idea! - a National Day of Prayer. When we see bad things happening to us, when we see Satan succeeding and atheists prosper, what else is left to do other than prayer. Of course, prayer is also important when we experience God's amazing love that protects us - such as a miraculous escape from an accident or disease or other things. We usually do not thank God in these circumstances. After the event, we ascribe the miracles to something else - not to God. Remember the lepers Jesus healed. All of them walked away after they were healed, except one!

Prayer is not about submitting a set of demands to God or "bartering with God" - OK God, if you do these things for me, I will do these for you. God is not looking for anything from us - except love. He owns everything including us. So, what can we offer god anyway? Prayer should be a time when we come close to God and have a conversation like a child is having with his father at the end of the day, what happened in school, how he fared, etc. etc. - similar sort of thing.

Jesus said, when two or more people come together in his name, he will be there. So, what would be the power when millions of people come together in praying! That is the power of National Day of Prayer when millions of people from all over the world come together in prayer. This is similar to what we experienced recently on Good Friday when we spent the whole day in church praying and meditating. It is powerful.

May 1 is the fortieth day of departure of our Late Lamented Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I. This is a time to pray for the departed father. This is also the time to pray for the Patriarch-elect HH Ignatius Aphrem II, who will be enthroned on May 29, 2014. Aphrem bava is facing a variety of crisis. The crisis in middle east is severe in Syria, where the Patriarchal HQ is located. Several bishops and clergy are under abduction, Christian families lost everything they had and are living in refugee camps in other countries. Churches and monasteries are destroyed. Christianity is being uprooted from places where it once started. The situation in Malankara, although not as bad as in Middle East, is still bad. Many of our churches are still closed to worship. Satan is having a field day rejoicing how he can keep people from worshipping almighty God. Let us pray that, instead of hardening the heart, like Pharaoh did when he saw the miracles performed by Moses that led to his destruction, the concerned leaders can come together in prayer and forgiveness with a contrite heart and bring peace to Malankara - the eternal peace promised by Jesus Christ that is being blocked by Satan by manipulating the greed and ego of the people concerned. In a few days, we will also know of the results of the elections being held all over India for the new Parliament and the new Government. Let us pray for the rulers and pray that God will guide them to serve the country rather than using their power to benefit themselves.

You can add your own list of things to pray for during the National Day of Prayer on May 1 (or anytime afterwards.) You can pray anytime. There is no specific time or season for prayer. What National Day of Prayer offers us is a day focusing on prayer in the midst of the busy times in our lives.

Here are some pertinent facts about the National Day of Prayer:

National Day of Prayer, May 1, 2014

The theme for the USA National Day of Prayer on May 1st, 2014 'One Voice, United in Prayer', is taken from Romans 15:6: 'So that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.' The 2014 theme is all about the need for individuals, corporately and individually, to place their faith in the unfailing character of their Creator, who is sovereign over all governments, authorities, and men."

"Today we are calling the nations of the world to join in prayer and fasting with our brothers and sisters in Christ in the USA. Last year we had people from 28 nations join with us. This year we are believing for 100 nations to join us in prayer and fasting for the USA." – Warwick Marsh from Australia

The National Day of Prayer belongs to all. It is a day that transcends differences, bringing together citizens from all backgrounds.

Facts About the National Day of Prayer:

1) There have been 142 national calls to prayer, humiliation, fasting and thanksgiving by the President of the United States (1789-2013).

2) There have been 65 Presidential Proclamations for a National Day of Prayer (1952-2013). Gerald R. Ford (1976), George H. Bush (1989-91) and Barack H. Obama (2012) are the only U.S. Presidents to sign multiple National Day of Prayer Proclamations in the same year.

3) Every President since 1952 has signed a National Day of Prayer proclamation.

4) 34 of the 44 U.S. Presidents have signed proclamations for National Prayer. Three of the Presidents who did not sign a proclamation died while serving in office. Two Presidents, not included in the count – William Howard Taft and Warren Gamaliel Harding, signed proclamations for Thanksgiving and Prayer.

5) Records indicate there have been 1,259 state and federal calls for national prayer since 1775 and counting.

Facts about National Day of Prayer courtesy of: Phil Williams (Historian) 
and nationaldayofprayer.org

How To Participate in the National Day of Prayer
We Need Your Prayers

Watch Live: Thursday, May 1st, from 9:00 a.m. - noon EST (US), watch the National Day of Prayer as it's broadcast Live from Washington, D.C.

http://nationaldayofprayer.org/2014-national-observance/

The 2014 National Observance of the National Day of Prayer will be broadcast LIVE from the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, May 1, 2014 from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm EST.

This special observance is hosted by Congressman Robert Aderholt (Alabama, 4th District)

Speakers include Anne Graham Lotz (daughter of Rev. Billy Graham), Dr. James and Shirley Dobson, Congressman Robert Aderholt, Mrs. Vonette Bright, The Honorable Bob McEwen, Congressman Mike McIntyre, Don Moen, Chaplain Father Patrick Conroy, Dr. Dick Eastman, Mr. David Butts, Mr. John Bornschein, and more.

Find An Event Near You: It's not too late to find a local event and participate with those in your community.

http://nationaldayofprayer.org/events/

In Your Home: Yes, you can pray in the privacy of your home.

When You Find It Difficult to Focus on Prayer

by Fr. Mark

Prayer Is a Combat

First of all, allow me to say that prayer - all prayer - is a real combat against the proclivities of our fallen nature. God created us to pray naturally: to pray with every breath and with every heartbeat, or, if you will, God created us to adore Him perpetually, in spirit and in truth. The original sin of our first parents was a falling away from prayer, a falling away from perpetual adoration, a break in the ceaseless heart-to-heart and face-to-face in which, and for which, God created man in His own image and likeness.

With the entry of sin into the world, prayer became a struggle. The bitter irony is that, while adoration was, in the beginning, man’s natural state, it became, as a result of sin, something hard to do.

Christ, the New Adam

The advent of Christ into the world signaled a return to ceaseless prayer, the reprise of perpetual adoration in spirit and in truth. The heart and mind of the New Adam is, at every moment, waking and sleeping, lifted heavenward and turned God-ward, In Him the Father is well pleased, in Him the Father takes delight, because in Him, and in those who belong to Him as members united to their Head, the Father finds again the adoration in spirit and in truth that was integral to His original design.

Prayer: A Gift from the Heart of Christ

The very first thing you might want to consider is that Christ lives forever to intercede for us; that His adoration of the Father is perfect and ceaseless; that the way of pray to which you are called is an insertion into His own prayer. It is a very humble and sober desire for union with Him in His adoration and glorification of the Father: your soul to His soul, your min to His mind, your heart to His Heart. Prayer is not so much an activity in which you engage as it is a gift that you receive from the Heart of Christ by the operation of the Holy Ghost.

The Blessed Sacrament

All of this may come across as being terribly abstract for you. Forgive me for not finding the words to say all of this more simply. I’m trying. I should like to say something about the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist and, in particular, in the reserved Blessed Sacrament. You are not alone in feeling nothing in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Great saints before you have said that in the presence of the Deus absconditus, the hidden God, they felt nothing, saw nothing, heard nothing, perceived nothing at all by way of the senses. For some, the mystery of the real presence felt rather like a real absence of God. They would attempt to go to God in the Sacrament of His Love and find themselves rather like a little bird who, attempting to enter a house, flies again and again into a window glass until, at length, he falls to the ground, bruised and exhausted. For one who is trying to pray, this sort of experience becomes discouraging. Like the little bird who gives up trying to fly into the house, the soul gives up trying to pray and looks for diversion in other things. It all seems like a waste of time, an exercise in futility.

The Spark of Desire

What is one to do? Stop praying altogether? Be content to go through the motions of a prayer that is minimalistic? Lapse into what amounts to a practical agnosticism? I would propose two things. First of all, know that if you have the desire to pray, or even the smallest, faintest spark of a desire to pray, you are already praying, and this in spite of all your feelings to the contrary, When you go to prayer, even if you have nothing else to bring to it, bring that tiny spark of desire or, at least, a desire for that tiny spark of desire. The Holy Ghost will work with that.

The Leap of Faith

Secondly, take a leap of faith and say, "Even though I see nothing, hear nothing, feel nothing, and understand nothing of it, I believe that Christ is present in the tabernacle, that what I see before me is not, despite all appearances, a piece of bread; it is God’s sacramental Face, that is to say, God really present and turned towards me in view of a real relationship with Him." Then say, "If you want a relationship with me, know that I want one with you, even if everything in me protests, declaring such a relationship unlikely or even impossible." This may make it possible for you to say, "Although I feel nothing, I believe that you are here for me, and I want to be here for you. I believe that your being here for me is the expression of your love for me; let my being here for you be the expression of my love for you."

Temptation to Flight

This will be a struggle at first. Fifteen minutes of such a prayer may feel to you like three hours. You may find yourself focused on waiting for the clock to chime. You may begin to plot ways of escaping from something that seems so unnatural, so irrational, so futile. You may even want to get up and flee. This temptation to flight from prayer can be overcome only by a flight to prayer. If you have resolved to make fifteen minutes of adoration, and are tempted to cut the time short, make sixteen minutes of adoration instead. If you have resolved to make a half-hour of adoration, and tempted to run away after twenty minutes, make forty minutes of adoration instead. This may sound harsh, but it is analogous to the struggle to complete a course of physical exercise when one’s muscles are aching and one is short of breath. The exercise of prayer makes prayer a habit, and when prayer becomes a habit, it becomes easier.

Anchoring the Soul and Body

There are other things one can do to anchor the soul (and body) in adoration, when the temptation to flight becomes almost irresistible. I find that the repetition of very short prayers, making use of my rosary beads, is the best way to remain in prayer when I want to escape from it. You can, for example, repeat on every bead, "It is Thy Face, O Lord, that I seek; hide not Thy Face from me." Or again, "I am here for Thee because Thou art here for me." Or again, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, be to me a Jesus." The Holy Ghost will inspire the prayer best suited to your need in a given situation.

Source: Vultus Christi © 2013-2014 The Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle. All Rights Reserved.

The Lifeline of Prayer

by Shirley Dobson, Chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force

I learned to depend on the Lord early in my childhood. During those turbulent years, my mother held our little family together. Though she wasn't a Christian at the time, she knew that she needed all the help she could get as she raised her children. So she sent my brother and me to church every Sunday, and it was there that I was introduced to Jesus Christ and invited Him into my heart.

As I learned how to pray and began speaking to the Lord, I sensed His love and care for me. Amid the chaos of our disintegrating family, this little girl found hope and comfort in Jesus. I've been praying and relying on Him ever since.

The many answers to prayer in my life have reinforced my belief in its power and importance. Prayer is our pathway not only to divine protection, but also to a personal, intimate relationship with God. That's why I am so honored to be in my twenty-second year as chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force. I count it a privilege to play a small part in calling people of faith to their knees.

Jesus demonstrated the significance of this intimacy with God to His disciples. He "often withdrew to lonely places and prayed " (Luke 5:16). He "went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God” (Luke 6:12). He even told the disciples the parable about justice for the persistent widow "to show them that they should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1).

I have often wondered why the Bible places such a heavy emphasis on prayer, especially since Jesus reminded us during the Sermon on the Mount that "your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8). When I mentioned this to my husband, his response was both simple and profound: "Well, God desires a relationship with each one of us, and there is no relationship in eavesdropping!”

Indeed, the Lord desires personal, two-way conversation with me – and with you. You are His child. He wants you to seek Him, to love Him, and to spend time daily with Him. When you do, He hears and responds. Jesus said: "When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:6).

If Christians would follow through on this truth, we would change our lives and the course of history. After all, just as prayer is important for us as individuals, it is also important to entire nations. One of my favorite Scripture verses is 2 Chronicles 7:14: "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

As I reflect on this verse, I am encouraged. Prayer groups are springing up throughout America. Our nation's leaders are openly asking for prayer support from the public. As a matter of fact, members of both houses of Congress met recently in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol for a time of prayer and reconciliation. In the midst of our tumultuous times, God may be preparing hearts for a new openness to seeking Him through the lifeline of prayer.

How about you? Are you ready to renew or increase your own commitment to prayer? Do you want contentment in your heart and peace in your world? If your answer is yes – or even maybe – then let me introduce you to the National Day of Prayer's four-step approach to effective communication with God. It's simple, practical, and biblical. We call it P.R.A.Y. – Praise, Repent, Ask and Yield.

The apostle Paul urged that "requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone…that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior” (I Timothy 2:1-3). Let's please God by actively seeking, through prayer, "peaceful and quiet lives” – for ourselves, our spouses, our children and grandchildren, our friends, and our nation.

Are you ready to know certain peace in uncertain times? Good. It's time to P.R.A.Y.

Source: National Day of Prayer Task Force © 2014. All Rights Reserved

Still…Under God - Background of the National Day of Prayer

by John Bornschein, Vice Chairman, National Day of Prayer Task Force

The 63rd annual National Day of Prayer is only days away. So, why does the United States have a day of prayer, designated by Congress, signed into law by the President of the United States, recognized by all 50 Governors and observed by millions of people? The reason is clear. It is etched on buildings, monuments and memorials, defined in law and recited by students each and every day. Like it or not, this great nation is still Under God - a God who is active in the affairs of men and their governing authorities (Proverbs 8:15; 21:1, Daniel 4:25). Groups like Planned Parenthood and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, among others, oppose the idea that people are accountable to an Almighty God. But this is "nothing new under the sun," as the author of Ecclesiastes once said (Eccl 1:9). Generation after generation, people seek to tear down the institutions that uphold what remaining moral layers prevail within a civilized society, offering nothing in return. After all, it is easier to tear down than to build up.

Consider this letter from Benjamin Franklin to Thomas Paine in response to Paine's controversial book, Age of Reason:

I have read your manuscript with some attention. By the argument it contains against a particular Providence, though you allow a general Providence, you strike at the foundations of all religion. For without the belief of a Providence, that takes cognizance of, guards, and guides, and may favor particular persons, there is no motive to worship a Deity, to fear his displeasure, or to pray for his protection. I will not enter into any discussion of your principles, though you seem to desire it. At present I shall only give you my opinion, that, though your reasonings are subtle and may prevail with some readers, you will not succeed so as to change the general sentiments of mankind on that subject, and the consequence of printing this piece will be, a great deal of odium drawn upon yourself, mischief to you, and no benefit to others. He that spits against the wind, spits in his own face.

But, were you to succeed, do you imagine any good would be done by it? You yourself may find it easy to live a virtuous life, without the assistance afforded by religion; you having a clear perception of the advantages of virtue, and the disadvantages of vice, and possessing a strength of resolution sufficient to enable you to resist common temptations. But think how great a portion of mankind consists of weak and ignorant men and women, and of inexperienced, inconsiderate youth of both sexes, who have need of the motives of religion to restrain them from vice, to support their virtue, and retain them in the practice of it till it becomes habitual, which is the great point for its security. And perhaps you are indebted to her originally, that is, to your religious education, for the habits of virtue upon which you now justly value yourself. You might easily display your excellent talents of reasoning upon a less hazardous subject, and thereby obtain a rank with our most distinguished authors. For among us it is not necessary, as among the Hottentots, that a youth, to be raised into the company of men, should prove his manhood by beating his mother.

I would advise you, therefore, not to attempt unchaining the tiger, but to burn this piece before it is seen by any other person; whereby you will save yourself a great deal of mortification by the enemies it may raise against you, and perhaps a good deal of regret and repentance. If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it. I intend this letter itself as a proof of my friendship, and therefore add no professions to it.[1]

Despite Franklin's objections, Paine published his Age of Reason, infuriating many of the Founding Fathers. John Adams wrote, "The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity and humanity, let the Blackguard [meaning "scoundrel," "rogue"] Paine say what he will."[2] The idea of a people being united as one nation under God is like nails on a chalkboard to those who seek to run the streets of America with the fruit that brought Eden to ruin.

We cannot ignore the irony regarding those who seek to argue the case for atheism when they state that they have the truth to open the minds of people. The fact remains that it was God Himself who came to liberate the minds of men; He stated this clearly in the Gospel of John: "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32). It is absolutely essential that we know the truth.

Let's take a gander through history for a moment. On February 7, 1954, Rev. George M. Docherty, a pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. preached a sermon titled "A New Birth of Freedom," while none other than President Dwight D. Eisenhower sat in the audience. In the message, Rev. Docherty suggested that we are a nation "under God" and should be reminded of it daily as our children recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Docherty delivered this message on Lincoln Day, and it had a great impact on those listening - including President Eisenhower, who happened to be seated in the same pew that President Abraham Lincoln had occupied regularly.

A bill was presented to Congress, and on June 14, 1954, just four months later, President Eisenhower signed it into law, officially adding the words "under God" into the Pledge of Allegiance. The president was quoted as saying, "In this way, we are affirming the transcendence of religious faith in America's heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country's most powerful resource in peace and war." The president then challenged the citizens of this great nation to remember the God of our fathers, for those two words captured "the characteristic and definitive factor in the American way of life." Being a nation "under God" is deeply rooted in our history.

After President Eisenhower signed the bill, some who challenged the modification suggested that Francis Bellamy, the man who wrote the original pledge, would never have agreed to such a change. Yet it was Mr. Bellamy himself who used the phrase many times in 1892. Documents show that Ferdinand used the phrase when writing to Queen Isabella. Captain John Smith used the phrase when writing to Queen Anne. William Bradford, author of the Mayflower Compact, also used the phrase frequently when he dedicated America to the "advancement of the Christian faith." More than 21 of the Founding Fathers - including John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson - used the term "under God" when addressing affairs in America.

The term "under God" dates back to the 13th century when Sir Henry Bracton (ca. 1210–1268), the father of modern law, wrote that the king was "sub Deo, et Lege" ("under God and Law") - the phrase etched above the doors at Harvard Law School. This core philosophy of leadership was the basis of contention between Sir Edward Cokes and King James (1620) when the king was reminded that leaders must be accountable to God or nations will fall back into tyranny and justice cannot prevail. This historic dialog is etched on the door of the Supreme Court.

Ultimately, we are a nation that is spiritually, morally, and legally "under God" - and being so is healthy for this generation and the many to come. Those who desire to remove our accountability before Almighty God are the very same people who naïvely believe that a society without religion is a society of free thinkers - a world without restricting boundaries.

Jean Jacque Rousseau (1742) stated that humans are born "inherently good." If this is the case, wouldn't society be better if we could all just explore the potential of humanity in its raw, natural condition and remove the influences of culture and the chains that abound? Ultimately, it always comes back to the idea of removing God from the equation. Well, a nation did remove God, and as a result, 6 million people were murdered with cold and callused resolve from 1933–1945. The Jewish people were slaughtered - men, women and children - at the hands of the Nazi regime.

It was the Nazi perspectives of life that led to the formation of eugenics, a purposeful plan to remove the inferior aspects of humankind and produce the next evolutionary level in humanity. That philosophy still prevails today and was the core worldview of Margaret Sanger (1879–1966), who pioneered reproductive activism and wrote an eight-page monthly newsletter, which circulated throughout greater New York, called "The Rebel Woman - No Gods, No Masters." She founded Planned Parenthood in 1946. Her efforts are directly responsible for the 1.3 million babies murdered every single year. That number is equal to 114,500 monthly; 26,400 weekly; 3,800 daily; roughly 158 per hour; 2.6 babies every second of every day. How is this any different from the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Germany?

When you remove God from the conversation and our accountability to Him, you remove the definitions of morality and the fact that all men were created equal with certain unalienable rights - endowed by a creator. Rather, we become a bio machine to be pruned and prodded until the next cycle in the evolutionary chain takes shape. Having worked at the United Nations, I can tell you that many world leaders share this view. They do not see people as beings created in the image of God. In their minds, we are simply populations of consumers – consuming the limited natural resources of the planet - contributors to their gross domestic product. Contrary to Jean Jacque Rousseau, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

We want to believe that deep down inside, people are good, but I am reminded of the wickedness of humankind - the animalistic nature within us - every time I turn on the news. On February 10, 2013, the cruise ship Carnival Triumph experienced a fire in the engine room, resulting in the electrical generators breaking down. The ship was left stranded at sea, floating directionless until help could arrive. The systems that provided running water and sewage filtration were limited. Other ships nearby provided food and supplies, but it wasn't long before chaos ensued. The people on board transformed a beautiful cruise into Lord of the Flies. Despite the abundance of shelter, food, and supplies, patrons of the floating 4-star resort turned to crime and vandalism. Interior damage to the ship escalated out of control, putting lives in real danger - all due to the lawlessness of those on board. There was no order or accountability. This may be the best social experiment conducted on the human condition in decades. The ship's patrons were stranded for only four days. All was well while the toilets were working, but in 48 hours, there was a total collapse of moral rationale and defining law.

Stories like this remind us once again that people are inherently wicked. In the words of the psalmist, "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me" (Psa 51:5). We must heed the words of the prophet Jeremiah who said that people's hearts are "deceitful … and desperately wicked" (Jer 17:9).

I love my children, but had they been born, fed, and left with no direction and then tossed into a room with other children and a box full of toys, you would have witnessed the ugly, sinful nature that flourishes within us all. It is only by God's grace and mercy to teach and instruct us - to set up wise people in positions of authority to establish boundaries - that we have a civilized society at all.

When confronting the evils of the Nazi regime, it was the principles of being a nation "under God" that enabled the prosecution to define right and wrong and the crimes against humanity. At the Nuremberg Trials,[3] Justice Robert H. Jackson set the record straight when he said, "We do not accept the paradox that legal responsibility should be the least where power is the greatest. We stand on the principle of responsible government declared some three centuries ago to King James by Lord Chief Justice Coke, who proclaimed that even a King is still, ‘under God and the law.' "[4]

I praise God that our Founding Fathers were devout men of faith. If not for their wisdom and reverence for God, we would have had no laws allowing us to bring justice to those murderers. It was their vision that generations to come would honor God in this way. You need only to pick up the original text of the New England Primer, written in 1687, to see that it was our leaders who wanted all men to read and write, knowing the Scriptures, so they could keep the future leaders of this land accountable to God.

We are one nation under God, and a nation that is under God must stand under His virtues and give Him the praise and recognition for his bountiful blessings that He so rightfully deserves. Accumulative wisdom is not sufficient to navigate the challenges of the day. Therefore, "it is the duty of all nations to recognize the providence of Almighty God" – George Washington, October 1789. Remembering the God of Fathers is what prompted Thomas Jefferson to share these powerful words on March 4, 1801:

"Endow with Thy spirit of wisdom those whom in Thy name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that through obedience to Thy law, we may show forth Thy praise among the nations of the earth."

The National Day of Prayer – a tradition of honoring God that began in 1774 at the First Congress when a minister was asked to open with prayer and to lead Congress in the reading of four chapters of the Bible – is a call to all of God's people to unite in prayer in one voice and one mind (Romans 15:6). It is a concept that was birthed in Scripture when the prophets Ezra and Joel (Ezra 9, Nehemiah 8-9, and Joel 1-3) called for the people to unite in humility and reverence before Almighty God. In fact 2 Chronicles 6:13-42 records that all of Israel gathered together to worship and pray unto God. Although the calendar dates have changed, the need for prayer has not. Let us unite on the largest Solemn Assembly in U.S. History and glorify the Lord, remembering that we are one nation, UNDER GOD.

References:

[1] Jared Sparks, The Works of Benjamin Franklin (Boston: Tappan, Whittemore, and Mason, 1840), 10:281–282.

[2] John Adams, The Works of John Adams, ed. Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Charles Little and James Brown, 1841), 3:421.

[3] These took place from November 20, 1945 to October 1, 1946.

[4] He spoke these words June 10, 1945.

United in Prayer

by Dion Elmore, Director, National Day of Prayer

The other day, a friend of mine sent me an email containing an observation that he had made. He was questioning why so many in the church seem to use two particular verses in Matthew, chapter 18, as texts to illustrate prayer. His perspective was that they were not about prayer in specific at all, but in the context, of church discipline. Most will be familiar with verses 18 and 19, "I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. "Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven."

While he was correct, that Jesus did give these two examples in the context of discipline, the principle and examples were really instruction by Jesus on the power of authority and agreement. Jesus' authority, imparted by Him to us, was for the purpose of establishing His will, in any and all situations. For the purpose of this article, I want to focus specifically on verse 19, 'if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for'. All it takes is two, agreeing together, on His word and His will. Our unity, one mindedness, and agreement as believers about His will are essential if we hope to represent His authority in asking. And this is where unity in prayer and petition, 'asking' if you will, come in. The definition of the Greek word translated 'ask', is to ask, beg, call for, crave, desire, request, or require. Emphatic, authoritative 'asking', realizing who we are in Him, our authority as believers, and remembering Who He is! God Almighty! The One Who is able to do exceeding, abundantly, above anything that we can even ask or think!

So what does this have to do with the National Day of Prayer on May 1st? Everything! If we have been granted His authority to petition the Father in His name, and if just two of us can join together, asking, desiring and requesting that God move according to His will, and if we have been assured by His Word that it will be done - imagine, then, how pleased the Father must be, and how the heavens must resound with the cries of millions who assemble each year on behalf of America and her people! Imagine if millions of God's people, who are called by His name, humble themselves and pray, and seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways on the National Day of Pray, what glory the Father would receive! And what transformation we would experience if together, we called upon God to tear down the strongholds of the enemy in the United States of America! Like the Israelites who circled the great, impenetrable walls of Jericho and who with one mighty voice let out a shout, and saw that mighty stronghold crumble into dust! The same God who was with them, is with us!

So join us this year! Make the National Day of Prayer a priority in your schedule! Join together with millions of other believers with one voice and unite together in prayer! Click here to fine an event in your area.

Source: National Day of Prayer Task Force © 2014. All Rights Reserved

Women's World Day of Prayer Movement

by Mrs. Nirmala Abraham, Board Member, World Day of Prayer USA.

World Day of Prayer (WDP) is an international, ecumenical prayer movement initiated and carried out by Christian women across denominations in more than 180 countries and over 1000 languages. It is an annual event conducted for over 87 years, when Christians celebrate a common day of prayer on the first Friday in March. Each year, a committee of women from a chosen country writes the worship service. WDP events continue for 36 hours starting at sunrise on the Island of Samoa in the Pacific and ending at sunset in the American Samoa...

The movement started from a day of prayer initiated in 1887 by Mary Ellen James, wife of a Presbyterian minister in NY. She was concerned about the problems facing women in her community, especially the new immigrants to America. Their problems ranged from unemployment, poor housing and lack of healthcare to educational opportunities. Through the years what started as a simple day of prayer by Mary Ellen James of NY, grew into what we call today as the World Day of prayer, the largest ecumenical movement in the world organized and led by women.

Through the World Day of Prayer, women are encouraged to become aware of other countries and cultures, understand their problems and pray with them and for them. The World Day of Prayer aims to demonstrate that prayer and action are inseparable and that both have immeasurable influence in the world.

The women of France, who have chosen the theme "I was a stranger and you welcomed me", write the World Day of Prayer worship service for 2013. The theme represents the current problems concerning immigration in France and the Christian response to welcome the ‘stranger'. The women who prepared this year's worship service and Bible studies reach into Jesus' identification with "the least of these" in Matthew 25 and draws on customs of hospitality found in Leviticus on welcoming the stranger. Through visual interpretation and personal stories, participants begin to put themselves in the shoes of "the stranger," remembering their own feelings of being on the outside - and the blessings of welcoming.

The offering collected at the worship service supports projects helping women and children around the world who are victims of many forms of poverty, violence and injustice.

World Day of Prayer worship is widely conducted by all Protestant and Catholic denominations in the USA and Canada. Among the Malayalee Christian, ecumenical services are conducted in large cities like New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas and Los Angeles. In Philadelphia, World day of prayer is conducted under the leadership of the Ecumenical Fellowship of Indian Churches (EFIC). About 500 people attended the 85th World Day of Prayer on March 3 2012, at the St. Thomas Indian Orthodox church in Philadelphia. The 120-member worship team from 19 member churches consisted of many generations. Their voices echoed in solidarity with people around the world in 170 countries. Through participation in the World Day of Prayer, we are continually seeking to expand the boundaries of ecumenism at a global level.

Information about the resource materials like: Order Worship Service, Bible Study, Music CD etc can be available from World Day of Prayer USA. 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 800, New York, NY. 10115.

Bread and Stones - Unanswered Prayers

by Ryan Duncan, Crosswalk.com Culture Editor

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. - John 16:33

I have always had trouble with the following verses in Matthew 7:

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"
- Matthew 7:7-11

I first heard this verse when I was a little kid, and like most children, I tried to take full advantage of it. I prayed for toys, for snow days in winter, or that I'd get to watch an extra hour of TV that day. As you might expect, these prayers didn't always get positive results. As I got older, my prayers became a little more mature, only they still didn't always get answered. These weren't selfish prayers either.

I would pray that my friend's dad would find a job, or that sick members of our congregation would be healed. So why did my prayers go unanswered? Some groups would say that if you just have enough faith God will make your life perfect, and nothing bad will ever happen to you again. Well, if you look at the lives of the apostles, you'll see that philosophy doesn't hold water. They were Jesus' first disciples, and they spent their lives in prison, beaten by mobs, or facing execution under the Roman Empire.

So what does this mean for us? I think it means we live in a world full of Sin, and bad things are going to happen. It means that sometimes when God answers our prayers, what is needed turns out to be much different than what we wanted. Maybe you prayed that someone would find a job, but instead God asks you to be a friend in a tough time. Maybe you asked for an opportunity to serve abroad, but instead God tells you to serve the people next door. Sometimes we pray for healing, but what God gives us is a shoulder to cry on.

Life will always be hard. At times, we will be tempted to believe that God either doesn't exist or doesn't care. But though our ability to understand God's purposes is limited, we can take comfort in the knowledge that his love is limitless. God never abandon us, he is there for us in our times of joy and to help us in our times of pain, if we only let him.

Intersecting Faith and Life:

Are there unanswered prayers weighing on your heart? Take a moment to reflect on Christ and know that he loves you.

Further Reading

Psalm 23

Source: Crosswalk the Devotional

"God, if You…then I'll…": Why You Can't Barter with God

by Ben Edwards

We've all heard it, and most of us have either thought it or even prayed it. "God, if You [do this thing I currently want], then I'll [do something I probably should do but haven't]." We find ourselves in a situation we don't like or lacking something we crave, yet we feel incapable of attaining our desire. Thus, we turn to someone we believe is capable of accomplishing what we want and hope God will show us favor.

But we understand how life works. People don't just give away favors. They want something in return. So we begin to barter with others when we are seeking their favors. We started doing this when we were young (e.g., trading your sandwich for your friend's crackers). The other person has something we want - either an item (good) or the ability to accomplish something (service) - so we offer him something we think he wants. In our society the most common bartering item is money - you give me something and I give you money in exchange. But we occasionally offer other goods or services (e.g., housing and food in exchange for childcare; use of vehicles in exchange for professional work, etc.). In each situation, the offer is successful only if both parties have something the other lacks or needs.

But there's a problem when we try to barter with God. He doesn't lack or need anything! The truth that God does not need anything is part of a larger truth of God's self-sufficiency or aseity. This means that God's existence comes from Himself, thus He is not dependent on anyone or anything else. We, as humans, derive our existence from God and live continually in dependence on Him (Col 1:17), but God exists in Himself and needs nothing (Exod 3:14; Acts 17:24-25).

Most pagan gods respond to the barter system. You offer sacrifices to a god, and he responds to help you in the way that he can. Thus, you worship the god of travel, and he in return gives you safe travel; you bring a sacrifice to the god of fertility, and he makes you fruitful; or you give to the god of war to make your army successful.

The Christian God is nothing like these pagan gods, which means we have nothing to offer God that would make Him respond by giving us a favor.

"God, if you give me this raise than I'll give you 15% of it." God is not sitting in heaven wondering how he will be able to finance His work and hoping someone steps up to foot the bill. The whole world is His! (Ps 50:9-12)

"God, if you heal me of this sickness, I'll go to church every Sunday." God does not struggle through the week waiting for Sunday to come and hoping more people show up this time to lift His spirits. God takes pleasure in true worship, but He does not need it.

"God, if you get me out of this difficult situation, then I'll [stop doing something wrong or start doing something right]." God is not fretting over whether or not people do what is wrong or right. He has commanded us to do right and will justly punish us for doing wrong (either we bear the punishment or Christ does). So God is pleased with our obedience, but does not need it.

Why does it matter whether or not we can barter with God? Because if we can't barter with Him, that means we have to accept His terms. We can't entice Him with our offers. We can only accept His offers. He is not impressed by our promises of service or obedience and will not respond to them. But He, of His own will, determined to offer us a relationship with Him as a gift on the basis of faith in Jesus Christ. We must submit ourselves fully to Him, offering our lives to Jesus as Lord. And He promises to give us eternal life - a relationship with Him.

God is the one who establishes what He will do and what we will do, and we either accept or reject those terms. But we can't try to change the terms to something we prefer - you can't barter with God.

About The Author:

Ben Edwards is Instructor in Pastoral Theology at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary. He is pursuing a Ph.D. degree in World Religions from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY.

Higher Ways - God's Timing and Prayer

by Dr. Gary Chapman

"My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. - Isaiah 55:8

I often meet Christians who are upset because God hasn't answered their prayers - at least not in the way they had hoped or on their time schedule. Being patient with God does not mean believing that he is still in process but believing that he knows - better than we do - that we are still in process. Being patient with God means trusting that he is sovereign and loving. It means believing that his love will not allow him to answer requests that don't line up with his ultimate purposes.

We are not the first to grow restless when God's timing appears to be off. Thousands of years ago, God reminded the prophet Isaiah, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:9).

When we know that God is loving and just, we don't have to understand his ways in order to be at peace in the midst of life's stresses. We can accept that God operates on his own timetable. As the British hymn writer Frederick William Faber wrote, "We must wait for God, long, meekly, in the wind and wet, in the thunder and lightning, in the cold and the dark. Wait, and he will come. He never comes to those who do not wait."

Prayer

Dear Lord, help me to trust that you love me even when I don't understand your timing.

About The Author:

Dr. Gary Chapman is the beloved best-selling author of The Five Love Languages and Love as a Way of Life.

Source: Living Love Devotional

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