Politicians tell us to pray. But to who?

Politicians tell us to pray. It was a classic headline.  At least at the beginning.  Top lawmakers call for prayer.  It’s not unusual.  Politicians praying or telling us to pray.  But then there’s the rest of the headline.  Top lawmakers call for prayer, unity after Iran launches missile attack against US forces in Iraq.  That begs the question – Pray to who?

Politicians tell us to pray.  But to who?People do pray

Many Americans pray, as do many people around the world.  But again, pray to who?  Maybe especially in this case, it’s a huge question.

Muslims in many countries are praying for Iran.  Others are presumably praying for the U.S.  But it’s a sticky situation.  Islam is both a religion and a way of governing.  Does an American Muslim pray to Allah for the safety of Muslims in a country that’s essentially at war with their own country?  And where does Allah sit, with both sides seemingly praying at cross purposes?

And then there are the Christians.  Many people, including too many Christians and Muslims, believe we both pray to the same God.  I’m sorry but that’s just not born out in the words of the Bible and the Qur’an.  There’s just no way Allah of Islam, who doesn’t have and wouldn’t have a son, can be the same as the God of Christianity who sent His Son as the means of salvation for all who believe in Him.  

So for those Christians and Muslims who think they’re praying to the same God – what “god” is it?  God of the Bible?  Allah of the Qur’an?  Or some combination of the two that’s not in either Scripture?  

Politicians tell us to pray

You can read more on the ABC News site, but let’s look at some of the tweets coming out from those politicians telling us to pray.

With reports of missile strikes launched by Iran against U.S. bases in Iraq, my thoughts and prayers are with our service members, diplomats and other personnel at risk, and with their families.

How about the people those same politicians consider to be “collateral damage”?  You know, the ones who are affected but supposedly weren’t the actual targets?  Like those on the Ukrainian airline that was apparently taken out when a missile or two were mistakenly sent their way?

And how about those on the “other side”?  Do we not pray for the enemy?  Remember, Jesus told us to love everyone, including our enemy.  Very hard.  I understand that.  But how do we pray to a God that tells us to love our enemies when were asking that same God to be with us as we kill them?

No – I don’t have an easy answer.  There isn’t one.  Shouldn’t be one.  But should we not at least take pause to think and pray about them as well?  Not to mention how do we have the nerve to just ask God for help without at least bringing them up?  

We are holding the troops in our prayers tonight. We thank them for always putting their lives on the line to protect the United States. I pray cooler heads prevail before any of our soldiers or innocent civilians are killed.

Perhaps if we held not only the troops but everyone – yes, I do mean everyone – in our prayers more often, maybe we wouldn’t even get to the situation we have now. 

We trust in our troops.  But do you remember when the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, escaping from the Egyptians?  Keep in mind, this was Old Testament.  Old Covenant.  Before Jesus told His followers to love our enemies.  Although, having said that, much the same thing would be said to the Israelites in The Law that they received from God after the Exodus. 

Ex 14:26 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.” 27 Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the LORD swept them into the sea. 28 The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.

Ex 14:29 But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. 30 That day the LORD saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. 31 And when the Israelites saw the great power the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.

Did you notice – the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.  Back then, Moses was operating under direct command from God.  Our soldiers don’t.  Some of our leaders may like to think they’re some kind of “god”.  But they aren’t. Even in Jesus’ time, that was the case with the various Caesars.  

But these days. we trust our politicians.  And our soldiers.  And our weapons.  Including the assault weapons we seem to think we need at home.  But where’s God in all of this?  For the most part, He’s not.  Not in any real way.  Until we screw up.  Then we call out to “God”.  But which one?

Closely following what’s happening in Iraq. I’m thinking of our service members, their families, and our allies, as I’m sure many Americans are doing right now.

Interesting.  I wonder, is this a slip of the tongue (or thumbs) or is it the real thought?  Thinking of.  Not praying for.  Thinking of.  I can’t say about the person who tweeted this, but for many people, this is all they can do.  They don’t believe in God.  But somehow, someway, thinking about a situation is supposed to help.  Or is it that they want to believe in a higher power, God, but just can’t get themselves to commit? 

I don’t know.  Can’t speak for them.  Or for you.  And yet, this statement is telling.  Among other things, that the writer doesn’t seem to know who to pray to – and so just puts words out.  Just in case.

Who do you pray to?

I don’t know who you pray to.  Or if you pray to whoever / whatever may be “listening”.  Maybe you don’t pray at all.  But here’s the thing. 

Praying to no one gets you nothing.  

Praying to Allah of the Qur’an or God of the Bible gets you different things, depending on which you choose.

From Sura 2 in the Qur’an, we read this:

(26) Behold, God does not disdain to propound a parable of a gnat, or of something [even] less than that.27 Now, as for those who have attained to faith, they know that it is the truth from their Sustainer – whereas those who are bent on denying the truth say, “What could [your] God mean by this parable?” In this way does He cause many a one to go astray, just as He guides many a one aright: but none does He cause thereby to go astray save the iniquitous, (27) who break their bond with God after it has been established [in their nature],28 and cut asunder what God has bidden to be joined, and spread corruption on earth: these it is that shall be the losers.  1)Asad, Muhammad. The Message of the Qur’an . The Book Foundation. Kindle Edition.

First, in verse 26 we see another case where the Qur’an denies something that’s very important in the Bible:  parables.  A lot of Jesus’ teaching came in the form of parables.

Then we see the concept that God intentionally leads people astray.  To an ending in Hell. 

Contrast that with what Jesus said in the Gospels:

Ask, Seek, Knock – Matthew

7:7-11 pp — Lk 11:9-13

Mt 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Mt 7:9 “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

Once again, the difference between Christianity and Islam is big.  One has no hope for those who Allah chooses to lead astray.  The other has God ready, willing, and able to respond to anyone who asks.

There are times in the Bible where God allows things to happen in order to wake people up.  To show us the error of our ways. 

I’m not pretending to be able to read His mind.  But – what if this is one of those times?  It’s certainly a time for us to look at ourselves.  What do we really believe?  How do we really want to live?  

Conclusion – Politicians tell us to pray. But to who?

And when we pray, what kind of response do we want?  Obviously, I believe the only true God is the God of the Bible.  The One whose Son is Jesus.  Anything else is a false god.  As such, only one can actually respond to our prayers.  But then, only when we pray.

So don’t pray just because some politician tells us to pray.  And don’t look to them for someone to pray to.  

While you’re at it, think about this passage, from which the best-known verse in the Bible comes:

Jn 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

These are not the words of a God who arbitrarily just decides to lead people astray and condemn them to Hell.  Rather, He’s a God that gives us the free will to acknowledge Him, love Him, follow Him, or not.  And what happens after that is therefore really up to us.

But as we also saw earlier, He’s always available for us to “knock”, and He will respond.  No matter what we might have done previously in our lives, He’s there for us.

So yes – pray.  But also pray about all these things as well.


Image by Prawny from Pixabay

 

References   [ + ]

1. Asad, Muhammad. The Message of the Qur’an . The Book Foundation. Kindle Edition.

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