Is God Fed Up With Our Prayers?

Here We Are Again!

Our daughter dropped off our grandson for his last day in elementary school yesterday morning. And then she cried.

She said, “I can’t stop thinking of the parents who won’t get to do that in Texas. This is not ok. It’s time for change.”

Another week.
Another mass shooting.
Another community facing incomprehensible pain as they bury their school children and teachers. (At the same time, the NRA will hyping the same old, weary arguments a few hundred miles away.)
Another President leading the nation in mourning and decrying the deadly uniqueness of our national addiction to guns and violence. (Has this become the definition of “American exceptionalism”?)
Another round of pontificating politicians offering plastic piety about “thoughts and prayers” with no intention of the thinking and praying making any real difference in the way we live and the way our children keep dying.

It’s not OK! It’s time for change!

Is God Fed Up With Our Prayers?

I turned again to Isaiah 58. It’s not easy reading!

God mocks people who seek God as if they were “a nation that acted righteously.”  God accuses them of saying they want to be close to God, but “you do whatever you want…oppress all your workers… quarrel and brawl…hit each other violently.”  In classic Hebrew style, God sounds like a Yiddish grandmother saying, “Oy vey! You call this a fast?Enough with the thoughts and prayers, already!” (58:5) 

God blows off their phony piety and their smarmy self-righteousness by calling them to direct actions that demonstrate their faithfulness to God’s way of doing things.

Isn’t this the fast I choose:
    releasing wicked restraints, untying the ropes of a yoke,
    setting free the mistreated,
    and breaking every yoke?
 Isn’t it sharing your bread with the hungry
    and bringing the homeless poor into your house,
    covering the naked when you see them,
    and not hiding from your own family?

With God’s command comes God’s promise:

Then your light will break out like the dawn,
    and you will be healed quickly...
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and God will say, “I’m here.”
If you remove the yoke from among you,
    the finger-pointing, the wicked speech;
   if you open your heart to the hungry,
    and provide abundantly for those who are afflicted,
    your light will shine in the darkness,
    and your gloom will be like the noon...
You will be called Mender of Broken Walls,
    Restorer of Livable Streets.

You can hear the same thing in Amos 5:21-24. I’m sure that God has shared our tears, felt our pain, and heard our prayers after each of the over 202 mass shootings in this nation so far this year. Every one breaks the heart of God.

But I can’t help but think that God is fed up with all of our “moments of silence,” our half-staffed flags, and our empty rhetoric about mental illness and school safety.  God is sick and tired of politicians who campaign as evangelical Christians, but have sold their souls to the gun lobby. I hear God shouting that it’s time for righteous anger and redemptive action.  

And there is plenty that we could do!

  • We could reduce the incessant flood of violence that passes for entertainment in movies, on TV and video games. Why not fast from all this stuff?
  • We could work to rebuild trust in healthy relationships, strong families, public instutions, and visionary faith communities.
  • We could increase funding for our public schools (instead of diverting it to private ones) to support teachers who are called to teach our children, not to die for them.
  • We could reject the narrow political ideology that has been crafted around a deadly distortion of the Second Amendment. (Whatever happened to “a well regulated Militia”?)
  • We could stop the unregulated sale of weapons at “gun shows.” (In Florida it’s as easy to buy a weapon as it is to buy a car.)
  • We could decide that no one really needs to own the weapons of war which have been the gun of choice for the mass shootings. (The Texas shooter purchased two on his 18th birthday before he was old enough to buy alcohol.)
  • We could institute the nation-wide background checks which 90% of our citizens support.
  • We could “fast” from voting for politicians who receive funding from the NRA and who will not support reasonable gun safety laws. (Have you called or emailed your representatives today?)
  • We could increase support for social service agencies in our communities.

Perhaps then — if and when we actually do something —  our light will shine in the darkness, and [our] gloom will be like the noon.”  Perhaps then we can rebuild…the foundations of generations past.”  Perhaps then — and only then — we will deserve to be called Mender of Broken Walls, Restorer of Livable Streets.”

Even if God isn’t fed up with our “thoughts and prayers,” I know that I am!  

May God’s peace comfort the afflicted and may God’s Spirit afflict the comfortable. And may we, in God’s name, find the courage to change!

Grace and peace,

Jim

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15 thoughts on “Is God Fed Up With Our Prayers?

  1. drgaryspencer May 26, 2022 — 6:54 am

    Great article

    Gary

  2. Bradford Webb May 26, 2022 — 7:04 am

    Amen, Jim.

    -Brad

  3. Kathy Kirkpatrick May 26, 2022 — 7:13 am

    Outstanding! Thank you’

  4. Outstanding letter, Jim! My heart is breaking. Our daughter, Jennie, will begin her first year in Fall as 3rd grade teacher in Dallas. I pray for safety of all our children and their teachers. Anne

    Sent from the all new AOL app for iOS

  5. Thank you, once again, Jim for your “port in a storm” to help us of similar mind to cope with brewing insanity in our nation.

  6. Thank you you always say what I am thinking

  7. I heard the news and wept, remembering our 3 babies riding their small bikes to Windermere Elementary and going into their classrooms; I remember all their teachers; I remember that I would say, “be careful,” as they left the house—never imagining it would be the last time I would see them alive and whole. Guns ARE the problem, our nauseating, ignorant invocation of the second amendment in a way never intended to justify blanketing our country with guns. You are right on all counts—disgusting, fake religiosity trying to justify the unjustifiable—as has been often said in a different tense, “Jesus weeps.” Lfw

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  8. Dr. Larry E. Webb May 26, 2022 — 9:50 am

    Thanks for this, and many of your “sermons”. I sense some movement in the culture, driven by too much pain, to become more aggressive against the arms movement and those that benefit financially from the death of others. Whether it is a tyrannically led nation, immoral clergy behavior, abusive family members, the drug and guns street culture, the immoral stimulus of online media, or any other of these self and nation and church destructive entities, let’s be done with them. Preaching is motivating to those who care. It does not move those who don’t, whatever their greater motivation is. I am not depressed. I am greatly grieved. I am angry. And I use my age as an excuse for not mounting a movement of change. It is no excuse. Let’s get with it! Thanks for the stimulus and confession, Jim.
    God be with you. Peace for the journey.

  9. Angela Bond Markus May 26, 2022 — 11:40 am

    Amen. But I fear you are preaching to the choir. It is disheartening to say the least to hear politicians say we need more armed guards at schools instead of pledging to make it at least as hard to get a gun as it is to get a driver’s license. Perhaps we should require all gun owners to purchase liability insurance in case their weapon is used to cause loss of property or life. People who own cars are required to do that. It may at least make it a more considered decision about whether owning a gun is worth the potential liability.

  10. Thank you for so eloquently and passionately putting into words what I have been feeling.

  11. Bradford Webb May 26, 2022 — 3:47 pm

    Hi again, Jim.

    A thought occurred to me that I want to pass along FWIW, and that would be to choose words that would make your message compatible with Islam and Judaism. They are monotheistic belief systems and I see one rough spot – the name we give our creator.

    Beyond that, we have very similar beliefs on the value of human life and treating each other as we would like to be treated. And I think missing some elements in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can put someone’s mental stability awry. That and the availability of weapons of war to someone whose mental wellness has been compromised can be a deadly combination. Someone with a better command of language might be able to come up with a compelling approach to both mental health issues and the removal of weapons of war from the country.

    Yes, I’m aware that I’m rambling and that the ideas are unreasonable in today’s complex world. I appreciate both of your articles on senseless mass shootings and encourage your continued efforts.

    All the best.

    -Bradford Webb

  12. Rev. Ted Henry May 27, 2022 — 8:41 am

    Thank you Jim!

  13. I want to stand up and shout!! The Republicans who are so afraid of losing their seats should fear us, the voters, more than the NRA or Trump, but sadly, it won’t work that way. I do not have the knowledge on how to do it, but if someone did know how to spread the word to the voters in America that the way to save their children is to stop voting for the congressmen and women who support the gun sales, maybe those in power would like to stay there based on our willingness to vote for them rather than kowtowing to the big money and power.No one, and I mean no one needs the kind of guns these killers use. The second amendment allows us to protect ourselves, not mow others down.

    I asked someone whose husband owns an assault riffle what he “needs” it for. She said that it is fun to shoot. Lord, have mercy!

  14. How can you make this “go viral” on FB? I just love your idea of making the elected officials more worried about us than the NRA. We, the people, just don’t matter anymore except at election time.

  15. Cathie Fowler May 30, 2022 — 6:42 pm

    Thank you, Jim. Well said.

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