For the second time in two weeks, my blog article doesn’t match the video that Rudy Ross and I produce.
There’s a computer reason why this is so, but it is mostly human error.
In the words of my friends who have been trained by the Missouri Department of Corrections let me say, “I apologize for my negative behavior and I’ll get right on it.”
Plenty of Worries Today
I am a few days shy of 73 and I can only remember a few more troubling times than what we are currently experiencing.
I recall nuclear bomb drills in elementary school during the cold war and the Civil Rights disturbances in the 1960s.
Today’s tensions between supporters of the Republican and Democratic parties have me worried about the kind of nation my children and grandchildren are inheriting.
Paul made it clear what we are to do when we are worried.
Philippians 4.6-7 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Worry and the First Century
When Jesus was born, his parents were warned to flee to Egypt, because Herod wanted to kill the child (Matthew 2.13-15).
Not only did Jesus face threats from the Romans, but the religious authorities plotted his death (Luke 4.28-30 for one of many examples).
Paul faced threats from Jews, Jewish Christians, and Roman authorities.
Both Jesus and Paul died violent deaths at the hands of their opponents.
What is interesting about their messages and prayers is that they had little to say about the oppressive institutions that were in existence.
In Timothy, Paul explicitly called the church to pray for earthly authorities.
1 Timothy 2.1-4 – First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone,
For kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.
This is right and acceptable before God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
The Roman Emperors Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero would not have received honors for being gentle and loving. They were ruthless, barbaric, and oppressive.
Paul may have called the church to pray for them because he knew Jesus’ teaching on prayer.
— Matthew 5.44-45 – But I say to you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
So that you may be children of your Father in heaven, for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.
Prayer Themes in Troubled Times
Both Jesus and Paul lived and prayed during troubling times. What were some of the themes of their prayers?
Both prayed for the unity of the church.
Jesus’ prayer the night before the crucifixion was for the unity of the church.
— John 17.20-23 – “I ask not only on behalf of these but also on behalf of those who believe in me through their word,
“That they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
“The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one,
“I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
As we pray during this difficult time in our nation’s history, let’s paraphrase Jesus’ prayer and ask God to give the church this kind of unity.
We can also turn Paul’s words to the church in Philippi into a prayer for the church.
— Philippians 2.2-4 – Be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or empty conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.
Let each of you look not to your own interests but to the interests of others.
The church is divided over deep cultural issues, just as is our nation. We don’t have to take sides against brothers and sisters in the Lord.
Let’s take the Lord’s side and pray his will for the church.
The Kingdom of God
The kingdom of God arrived in the world the moment Jesus stepped on planet earth.
His message was, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near;[k] repent, and believe in the good news” (Mark 1.15).
His prayer was for the kingdom to be recognized on earth, just as it is in heaven. Jesus taught his followers to . . .
“Pray, then, in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
may your name be revered as holy.
May your kingdom come.
May your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6.9-10)
If Jesus taught us to pray like this, shouldn’t we do just that?
Rudy Ross and I discuss the topic of “thoughts” on YouTube. It can be found on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel. You will appreciate Rudy’s insights.
Please email your prayer request to firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.