It seems that no matter where you turn these days, someone is always complaining or being critical about something. It’s getting more difficult to escape from the negativity, and it’s having a harmful impact on our culture. We are quick to blame the news, social media, politicians or our personal relationships. For many, our response is to pull away. Stop watching the news, no more social media, or isolate ourselves from many of our relationships. That certainly was my response at times.
Lately, however, I have felt a conviction to question such a response. How is isolation the answer to the chaos around me? Is my faith not stronger than the negative influences that try to hinder my eyes from the hope that lives within me?
Some 240 years ago the Continental Congress called this new land together to thank God for our nation’s many blessings, to acknowledge our need for His wisdom and grace, and to ask Him to continue to watch over our country in the days ahead. President Abraham Lincoln later proclaimed a day of national fasting and prayer. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan set the date for a national annual prayer day as the first Thursday in May. This year, as in the past, our city and our county officials have proclaimed today as a day of prayer for our community.
It occurs to me as I reflect on what our leaders have sought through prayer is not what God can do for us, but what can we do for God. Where have we fallen short and where do we need to make changes? If we are looking for change, then it appears that those who built this country have said change begins with me. As a pastor, I know God’s word assures me that God will give me the strength I need to thrive wherever He sends me. If I want the world around me to change, then I must begin by asking what changes God wants to make in the world through my service to Him.
So why prayer? Because we can’t know the answer to God’s direction without listening to His voice! Prayer is not simply asking God to do things for us. Prayer is listening to his voice to hear the revelation of what He wants me to do. Job 37:5 says, “God’s voice is glorious in the thunder. We can’t even imagine the greatness of his power.”
Amid the greatest storm is where we can hear God’s voice the loudest. My heart grieves for those Christians in Sri Lanka lost in the bombings, the 250 who were celebrating our risen Lord this past Easter. We can choose to believe that somehow darkness prevailed, or we can make a choice and see with our own eyes how God makes Himself known even in the worst of circumstances. A God not of wrath, but a living God who brings light to lead us through the darkest of times.
Join us today at DeSoto County commission chambers from 12-1 p.m. as we unite with communities around our National Day of Prayer. It’s time to stand up, be heard, and above all listen to what God has to say.
Brian Russell is pastor at Pine Level United Methodist Church and president of the DeSoto County Ministerial Association, which hosts today’s event in DeSoto County