January 22, 2017

Praying Through the News Headlines

Jun19

God is sovereign
I wrote this post over at (in)courage before the most devastating week we’ve had in Orlando, yet what I share rings even more true now. With the online parental shaming I see in regards to both the gorilla and alligator tragedies, along with the senseless death of 50 innocent victims, compassion should ring forth, not the hate and judgment I see spewed. When I think of that sandy beach at Disney, I don’t care what any mom says, it could have been you. It could have been me. Compassion. Grace. Heartbreak.

And now onto words I penned in May.

With newspapers scattered throughout the adult Sunday school room, my husband asked attendees to give their gut reactions to the new headlines placed before them. Avoiding any political discussions or expected church type responses, he encouraged us to share emotions from the heart when we think through local, national, or world news.

“Discouraged, disillusioned, heartbroken, hopeless, frustrated, angry, numb, hypocritical, sorrowful, lack of critical thinking skills, hopeful for the second coming, out of control” and the responses continued.

What could have been a potentially explosive discussion became a time of pointing our feelings towards the only truth: God’s unchanging, infallible, Word of God — the only plumb-line that can help make sense of these days.

Regardless of where we stand politically or on issues of global importance, it’s a time where many of us have deep-seated feelings that are so far out of our ability to control or change what is happening.

It only takes a few minutes on Facebook to find people spewing venom and reactions based on emotion, often without first taking time to check facts or sources. I can’t help but imagine that Satan celebrates each time believers act out, especially against each other. That conflict among believers rips apart the body of Christ.

In John 1:14, we are told that the Word became flesh and “was full of grace and truth.”

Often we forget that grace and truth must go hand in hand.

As my home church has encouraged “prayer labs” over the past month, I’ve felt a profound sense of conviction at how often I vent my frustrations and cynicisms before I first ask the Holy Spirit to equip me in my response and pray accordingly.

Over and over, I am reminded that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Nothing takes Him by surprise, so we can trust that He cares deeply for every decision. He is able to accomplish good and His heart’s desire is that we ask. That doesn’t mean that the headlines will change, but we know that He can use them for His glory.

As the US election year escalates, I see more and more Christians updating their status to “If X-Y-Z gets elected, I am moving.” I understand this frustration, but can I encourage us to be women of prayer who stand in the gap on behalf of our nation? (This applies to all, regardless of our home country.)

I’m filled with profound gratitude that Jesus didn’t up and leave when the going got tough. He stood firm to the end and encouraged His disciples to do likewise. This is our opportunity to live faithfully in the midst of difficult times, even though others may oppose us, to weep with those who weep, and intercede on behalf of God’s truth.

Will you stand along side my church as we pray through the news headlines just like my Sunday school class did during our “prayer lab”?

Instead of reacting on emotion, join me in grabbing a Bible and the newspaper. Let’s open God’s Word and use His truth plumb-line when it comes to the world at large.

What are our weapons? How does our response change when we believe this to be true? {See 2 Corinthians 10:3-5}

How might we react differently when we agree with Jesus about our role? {See Matthew 5:14-16}

What role does slander play in the news? What is tempting about slander? (Especially difficult when it’s presented as news, so pray for discernment.) What does Paul say to do? {See Ephesians 4:31-32}

For whom should we pray? Why? {See Matthew 5:44-45; 1 Timothy 2:1-4}

How can we know what to pray? {See Romans 8:26-27}

What does our heart attitude need to be for effective prayer? {See Isaiah 66:2b}

Consider the following as we pray through the headlines.

1. Pray the truth about God . . . that He is sovereign and loving and able to answer our prayer about this topic. Speak that truth out loud in prayer. God already knows, but it helps us to declare that truth. Who does He say He is?

2. Do a heart check: what attitude do I have about this topic? Do I have anger or pride or some other response about this topic that will get in the way of my prayer? Do I have self-righteous or condemning thoughts? Ask God to forgive that attitude, and help us overcome it.

3. Thank the Holy Spirit for leading us as we pray. Listen for Him to lead us now. (It’s okay to wait a bit as you listen for the Spirit to prompt you. Rest in the silence.)

4. Pray specifically for the people and the situation in the news story . . . for any change that might be needed, for salvation, for healing, for provision, for wisdom, for peace in this situation.

Now when my gut reactions scream frustration and hopelessness, I open His Word. I commit to prayer and not just another “share.” I commit to bringing these news topics before the Lord, knowing that in the end, He is the ultimate authority.

I ask that we continue our prayers in the comments at incourage. (No political discussions, just a time to intercede on behalf of the immediate needs of our countries.)

Jen Schmidt of Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and host of the Becoming Conference


Comments

  1. Thank you for posting this – I really appreciate the scriptural references to point us to what the Bible says so that we can stand fast in the Truth and not just our rely on our emotions!

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    Jen Schmidt Reply:

    @Andrea, You are so welcome. It’s been a sounding board of references for me to camp on when I get overwhelmed.

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  2. Thank you for this post.

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  3. Christ died for those caught in the Orlando gunfire~~that brings the idea of tragedy to a new level~~some of them lost not only their lives here, but the chance to spend eternity in heaven~~some of them were perhaps last minute converts, or were brought back to the faith they were raised in, or cried out to Jesus, whom they perhaps knew very little about, but remembered that those who trusted in Jesus, had been kind to them~~~we don’t know what their last relationship with Jesus Christ, who died for them, was in actuality, just as those who beheld the crucifixion of our Lord, did not know (as a group) what the future of the thief who accepted Christ while dying, was, or what would happen to the other thief~~~

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