New York's Daily News calls prayer meaningless, but finds it meaningful enough for a headline.
[Darris McNeely] This headline from the New York Daily News caught a lot of attention and is still getting a lot of attention here today – “God isn’t fixing this”. This is a headline in the wake of the tragic shooting in San Bernardino, California, where fourteen people were gunned down and many others wounded in the latest unfortunate and tragic shooting in the United States. The subhead of this article, or this headline, says “As the latest batch of innocent Americans are left lying in pools of blood, cowards who could truly end guns’ scourge continue to hide behind meaningless platitudes”.
I found that to be an interesting headline. I don’t know all the reasons why they’d run that one – certainly, they’ll get a lot of attention and it will gain a lot of attention for the New York Daily News – but as they take this swipe at politicians who have their particular view, or they’re taking a swipe at prayer, at God, I don’t know. Certainly, “meaningless platitudes” aren’t going to solve the core, basic problems that are at the root of what we’re seeing in the United States and in other parts of the world – with terrorism, with rampant gun violence, with other forms of violence perpetrated with guns, whether it’s in the streets, domestic, or other civil violence that takes the lives of a single person or multiple people on any given time. We’ve certainly had a rash with that – we had the Planned Parenthood shootings just a week ago as I speak, that killed people in Colorado Springs, Colorado – and certainly, we’re still reeling and trying to figure out, along with France, what took place there with the terrorist attacks just about a month ago in Paris. And it creates this firestorm of concern, the political discussion about gun control, and what should be done in order to curb the availability of assault weapons, or all the way down to handguns and the United States – gun control is a very volatile issue. And there are other issues that are at the mix of this particular problem, some of which are very real – the breakdown in respect for authority, a breakdown in morality in our society, a lack of respect for police, and also a lack of respect for many other peoples in our country today. And of course terrorism, which is a very real threat from Islamic radical terrorists who are attacking in many other places in the world, and even in the United States of America.
One thing I haven’t heard as I’ve continued to listen to all of the discussions and the reporting about this, and the writing about it, is exactly what does God say about this violence and our state of our world, and especially the state of the United States of America, where this latest accident and tragedy – shooting – took place? What I’ve not heard so much are the words from some of the prophets such as Isaiah or Jeremiah, to help us really get to the core of the anger of the violence, of the hatred, of the religious strife, of the moral problems that are plaguing our country and creating eruptions like this, like others that take place in the sanctity of the home or on a suburban street, wherever it may be.
When you read statements like this in the book of Isaiah chapter 1, beginning in verse 4, you begin to get God’s picture on this, and perhaps then you can understand something behind that headline, or at least what it I s trying to get at – the fact that God isn’t fixing this – here’s what God has to say about a society that turns its back upon His Word and His law, and engages in behavior that transgresses the very fabric of human life and God’s purpose and plan for mankind.
In verse 4, the prophet says, “Alas, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the Lord.” This is where Isaiah goes right away. We have forsaken God. “They have provoked to anger the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away backwards. Why should you be stricken again?” Isaiah asks, and you might ask, “Why will we see these problems erupt again in America and other world capitols?” He says, “You will revolt more and more. The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faints. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores that have not been closed or bound up or soothed with ointment” (Isaiah 1:4-5). We have forsaken God.
Prayer is not a meaningless platitude, no matter when or where it may be uttered. Prayers for those that are left behind from such violence, prayers by you and I each day in our lives for wisdom, protection, for the guidance, for the hand of God to be upon us, and for the hand of God to be upon our nation – there’s no meaningless platitude about that. Prayers that we might all turn and acknowledge our sins and repent and follow God’s teachings and God’s ways – that’s not a meaningless platitude. Those are the prayers, those are the heartfelt commitments and approaches that all of us need to consider that do need to be made, because God can fix what needs to be fixed, when it begins in a heartfelt repentance and turning toward Him. He can fix our hearts. He can fix our soul. He can fix our corrupted spirit, and then begin to end the cycle of violence, the cycle of sorrow, the cycle of pain that is so often in our headlines today. Yes, God can fix this. But it begins with you and I acknowledging God as the Creator, and acknowledging His Word as the guide for our lives – that’s where it begins. And let me offer one final prayer that we all might begin to pray. It’s the prayer that Jesus Christ Himself talked about. Pray, “Thy kingdom come”.
That’s BT Daily. Join us next time.