Prayer changes things!
That’s what the Chaplains of the Senate and the House of Representatives believe. They are praying for God to intercede in the course of action that has lead us into a partial government shutdown.
Senate Chaplain Barry Black recently opened the Senate in prayer with this solemn plea,
“Lord! Lead them away from the unfortunate dialectic of ‘us versus them’ as they strive to unite for the common good of this land that we love. During this legislative stalemate help our lawmakers to test all things by their conscience, seeking to do right as you give them the ability to see it."
Chaplain Black, a retired Rear Admiral of the U.S. Navy, knows what good and effective leadership looks like. His role as the Senate’s voice of conscience and faith is to be non-partisan with man but wholly invested with God.
Therefore, he prays for lawmakers to, “acknowledge our transgressions, our shortcomings, our smugness, our selfishness, and our pride. Deliver us from the hypocrisy of attempting to sound reasonable while being unreasonable. Remove from them that stubborn pride which imagines itself to be above and beyond criticism. Forgive them for the blunders they have committed, infusing them with the courage to admit and correct mistakes.”
And in another recent prayer, Black earnestly prays, “Forgive us also when we put politics ahead of progress.”
In the House, Reverend Patrick J. Conroy, a Roman Catholic Jesuit Priest serves as Chaplain. He, too, is praying that members of Congress yield to wisdom and understanding instead of rancor and bitterness.
“Grace this assembly with the resolve to be faithful in its tasks, responsible in its actions, and fervent in its desire to serve a Nation which, so many hope, will live beyond the current difficulties into an ever-greater realization of both justice and freedom,” prays Conroy.
Beyond Capitol Hill, Pastors throughout the country admit they are praying for the leadership in Washington. They believe that much is at stake.
Joel Osteen, the Pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, the largest congregation in America is familiar with the president and Congressional members. He has met with the president at the White House and he has delivered the opening prayer for the House and the Senate.
In a recent interview, Osteen and I discussed the partial government shutdown. He is praying for the president and Congressional members to put their faith in God in order to find hope in the midst of dire circumstances.
"There's a lot of negativity. People are passionate about politics. These are good people on both sides. But you have to come to a point where you find some common ground in order to agree. And I think that's what keeps them mired; nobody's going to give any ground,” Osteen says.
The future can look very cloudy when there’s turmoil in the land. Confusion and doubt can stir up anxiety and hopelessness.
But Osteen offers hope for these troubled times, “If you get up and think; Lord, I want to thank you that I'm alive! That I have health! If you start your day off like that your day is going to go better."
Joel acknowledges that a lot of people, including the president and congressional members get stuck in life. “We put limitations on ourselves and think we’ve gone as far as we can,” he says.
When he delivered the opening prayer for Congress a year ago, he made a simple prayer that still has meaning for lawmakers in the current crisis:
“Help these lawmakers to search their hearts so that they may serve with dignity and honor and that through them our Nation will achieve the destiny that You have set before us. Give them wisdom as they make good decisions, courage that they will hold fast to your truth, and compassion that all should prosper from their laws.”
Pastor Osteen and Chaplains Black and Conroy are onto something. Like Jesus, they believe that faith can move mountains.
I certainly pray that God hears our prayer, moves our mountain of doubt and will restore the nation with wisdom and hope.