Is the Church Praying?

USA Eastern time – 19:21

It is evening and the day is done.  As I begin the daily ritual of preparing for the next day, I am compelled to stop, and pray.  It is not that I am so special. If anything, I am more average than anyone. Yet, the question came to me, why are you waiting to pray? Why is the church, the people, the fellowship of believers, so distracted that we are not stopping to pray.  Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5,

“16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances;for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

James, the brother of Christ, felt we ought to also make sure our hearts are clear, and we have been open even about our own mistakes and shortcoming.  This way we don’t carry grudges, have secrets, and are focused on ourselves more than the people around us.  We might even feel better.  He writes this.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16 

Instead of listening to the news every night, assessing who is right and who is wrong, where is our conversation with God?  There needs to be a revival of prayer in the church.  Humanity (politicians, lawyers, bankers, entrepreneurs, doctors, etc…) cannot fix the issues in this world.  We can try. But if you haven’t noticed, things are pretty messed up down here. And yes, it would take a miracle to get things right. But I’m just crazy enough to still believe in miracles, one miracle at a time.  So if you’re reading this blog, won’t you stop, just for a moment and pray. Give thanks regardless of what is happening in your life, and believe that miracles still happen.

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A Reflection on Father’s Day

As we celebrate the men who have given fatherly love and support to children of all ages, our spirits are encouraged and lifted.  Men who become fathers, beyond the biological contribution, but become real Dads, Pop-Pops, Uncles, Big-Brothers, Papas, and the rest, are to be applauded everyday.  We do not acknowledge them just because they are able to write a check or fulfill their parental duties as required by the courts.  No, we applaud them, thank them, encourage them, because they are Daddy.

It has more power than people think.  Studies on parent-child relationships and child well-being show that father love is an important factor in predicting the social, emotional, and cognitive development and functioning of children and young adults.  Children who live absent their biological fathers are, on average, at least two to three times more likely to be poor, to use drugs, to experience educational, health, emotional and behavioral problems, to be victims of child abuse, and to engage in criminal behavior than their peers who live with their married, biological (or adoptive) parents. Children with involved, loving fathers are significantly more likely to do well in school, have healthy self-esteem, exhibit empathy and pro-social behavior, and avoid high-risk behaviors.

We are sometimes faced with the reality that the father we need so badly, is not present in the life of many children.  Unfortunately, over 40% of children growing up in America, are living in a fatherless home.  If there is no “human-being” that offers this support, there is hope in God.  Psalm 68, a hymn of David, says

Father of orphans and protector of widows
    is God in his holy habitation.
God gives the desolate a home to live in;
    he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,
    but the rebellious live in a parched land.”

Our faith tells us that there is a divine, heavenly Father that is still looking over us. And this is the hope that we have as we trust him. However, it does not give our earthly dads a pass on their responsibilities and their value in the lives of young people.  We need fathers to rise up and be the fathers we desperately need. If we look at nature, we see that the male in many species, plays an important role in forming positive social behaviors and norms.  It has even been shown that South African adolescent elephants who had become out of control killing rhinos on a nature range, were more than the people could handle.  Their ruthless raids left the endangered rhinos injured or dead. Unsure of what to do, the authorities decided to integrate older male “bull” elephants into the herds and areas of younger elephants.  The result was immediate. The aggressive behavior ended as the older elephants taught the younger ones how to handle their aggression, a natural chemical response from elephants at a mating age.

Where are our bulls? Where are the men who can stand with our younger boys and teach them how to handle their aggression?  Where are the mentors and models to teach them that their solutions are not found with guns and gangs.  Their promises of prosperity and a positive future is found through the power of knowing your purpose and controlling the power within.

If the father you need is not in the household, there is still hope. Look to God, the one who provides a refuge and home for the homeless. He is able to fight every battle and guide you. Let his Holy Spirit reign in your life, even when you are unsure of the path ahead. God will lead you.  And to the fathers; do not be dismayed by the struggles in your families, your relationships, and even in your current state. God will provide what you need to be the father that others need.

Happy Father’s Day.