Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Bless us

Speaking of prayer (last post), there is no good reason for public prayer. I mean civil public prayer like at political conventions. Not prayer in church although this genre of prayer is prayer in search of a purpose, too.

If you followed the prayers at the Republican Convention on opening day, and who would? there was confusion about who would pray publicly and then controversy about what was said. There are no winners in public praying. The person invited to pray, and the placement of the prayer and the content of the prayer all have little to do with prayer. The prayer is not an address to God as much as a political statement in prayer form. The prayer itself is often like a mini-sermon full of the pray-ers personal convictions. One prayer I read about from yesterday's opening session referred to Trump as God's personal choice to save us from our enemies who were identified as Hillary and the Democrats. According to this prayer, God is a conservative Republican. It's us versus them and God is obviously on our side.

A better public prayer might take the form of a lament or a confession of sin from the Psalms. Or just the word, Help! Prayer is addressed to God in response to what He has done. It is appropriate to pray for our leaders and our nation especially at a time of national election but we need to be careful that we don't sound like we believe we have God's plans all figured out or that we presume God likes what we are doing to carry out his will. As Lincoln said, we might find out what God's will is and we are not in it.

I read another prayer from the convention that was posted online. It was a good statement of what the praying person wished God would do. But, it wasn't a prayer. She, the pray-er sounded articulate and theologically informed and tuned into the latest national crises and that was the point, I guess. To show how earnest we are, how compassionate and up to date and that our God must be too or if He is not, He is now.

It's best to leave God out of conventions. We do anyway. The only time he is mentioned is in the very brief prayers before and after the really important things.  By then we have laid out our plans for how we are going to save the country. Really, all we want God to do is sign off on them. Bless us, we pray.