A Prayer of the People

A Prayer of the People

Written by Richard White for Intown Church

August 13, 2017

Lord, I love Miriam’s song in Exodus 15. I love the fact that a 95 year old woman suddenly broke into song and danced to the tambourine when the Egyptian chariots were swallowed in the Red Sea. 

Now that must have been an inspiration.

“I will sing unto the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously, the horse and rider thrown into the sea! The Lord is my strength and song, He has become my salvation.”

When I am a very old man I want a sing and dance and shout. I want to be overwhelmed by your spirit like Miriam. 

Just now, it seems we are stumbling our way to the promised land. Like the children of Israel after their baptism, there was a great deal of relief and joy, but the long journey to the promised land is taking its toll. 

Like them, we are weak, limited, flawed, sinful. We repeat old sins we thought we had conquered. Our anger, our lust, our selfishness push their way to the surface of our lives and reveal they still find a home in our inner most being. We retrace our steps in the wilderness. Ground we have already covered.

We are plodding in circles like the children of Israel. The Road to Character is not easy. We’ve started over so many times.

On those rare occasions when we set aside our load of stress and guilt and fear and lift our heads we can almost see the promised land. We feel its faint refreshing breeze. We can smell it in the air.

It is like descending the west side of the coast range on a hot day, or this morning’s rain – we feel the cool, damp, refreshing breeze and are reminded there is path out of the wilderness. When we lift our heads, when you lift our heads, we aware once again that you are leading us through these difficult places and we are not alone.

Help us sense the depth of your love and the strength of your might in the midst of our wandering. When we pass through the dark places – of our minds, our hearts, our spirits, our times – reveal yourself to us again. Renew our minds, guard our emotions, strengthen our resolve however slow our progress seems to be.

We are in a time when the pride and predatory self-interest resident in all humankind has overtaken us. We are deceived by national pride and gross misunderstanding of our nation’s importance and role in history. 

Guard the mouths and clear the minds of world leaders so they might act with caution and grace. Bring, we pray, strong-minded, principled Christians into their inner circle who will give good counsel and boldly challenge their policies. Draw one into our President’s circle who captures his attention, someone who will not exchange human kindness, grace, or the stewardship of creation for economic gain. A Nathan. A Daniel. A Nehemiah. One willing to speak truth to power without concern for reputation.

In these days you are revealing to us again that trust in chariots and horses, that trust in human leaders and military might is fruitless. That you alone are the one who holds history in your hands. That you are the one who holds back the principalities and powers of darkness and prevents us from descending into chaos. That you alone are able to deliver. 

Take us back to the place where we first met you – to our Red Sea experience – and remind us that we joyfully and willingly surrendered our lives to you. All of our lives. Our thinking, our feeling, our doing. That we trusted you then and we can trust you now. We are confident that you will lead us through our current personal, national and global wilderness. That you are our present help and guide. That, as the song-writer has said, you didn’t bring us this far to leave us, you didn’t lift us up to let us down.

We are dismayed and discouraged by the events that have unfolded these past few days. That battles against the powers of darkness that we thought were being won have been set back. That men and women would harbor hate in brittle obsidian hearts and that that hatred would fling open doors to demonic violence. 

As a nation we have turned to worship violence – it is our entertainment, our music, our poetry, our games, our movies. It is on our lips and in our minds and hearts. We no longer hide our eyes nor weep when the endless loop of news plays out scenes of death again and again. We are intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually numb. 

Only you can deliver us.

Enlarge our souls on this trek through the wilderness. We want to be rooted in your word. We want to grow in your spirit. We want to follow wherever you lead. 

So to this end we pray this morning that you would draw us back once again to be students not only of our times but the Bible. Reading the newspaper and scripture. Drawing lessons from both but guidance for our lives from your holy Word revealed.

Bring us to our knees in prayer. For each other, for those who presume to lead us, for nations and for all people everywhere. And especially for those who stand against the powers, those called to speak your word in season and out the world over.

And as we journey inward, send us outward. Send us into the world, into our neighborhoods to heal with words and hands, to lift up the weary, to walk with the weak, to give hope to the hopeless. To live, even as we wander through our present wilderness, as ones who have been baptized in Christ and can join with Miriam and sing with unfaltering voice:

“I will sing unto the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously, the horse and rider thrown into the sea! The Lord is my strength and song, He has become my salvation.”

In Jesus Name,