Why you need to go buy a newspaper right now. (And not for the kind of reason you’re expecting.)
[I am not debating any issues or discussing either candidate or their followers, so please don’t be afraid to read on.]
This week, to prepare for leading the group study of my book, Designed to Pray, I did one of the exercises from the book. It sounds simple—but I’d never actually physically done what I suggested.
The basic idea is this: Take a newspaper and a marker. Go through the paper and write your prayers on top of the news stories as you pray.
That’s it. Sounds simple enough, right?
But let me tell you: It was powerful. Not because of me—at all—but because God is in it whenever we genuinely seek Him.
If you’re anything like me, you are troubled by this election. And for me, it’s not just the election or the candidates or the issues. My turmoil is all tied up in my beliefs about what Christianity is or should be and how we, as Christians, are called to represent God. It’s concern about how we’re acting, how people outside the church have come to view Christians, whether we’re living what we believe, etc. It’s complicated and discouraging. I can get so worked up so easily. These are big, big picture thoughts with long-ranging implications. Sometimes it feels like it’s all just too much.
But this exercise put things back into perspective.
Especially because I happened to write the words in red marker (just as the words of Jesus are often printed in red). My prayers are not the powerful part of this. It’s the image, the physical and tangible representation, of God’s ways and God’s power and God’s promises having the final word.
It’s about stepping back and realizing that God is bigger than these issues.
It’s about praying with an open heart, one turned towards God, that helps me see something less personally and more from God’s perspective.
It’s about taking our prayers away from the “I wants” and turning them into “thy will be done.”
It’s about remembering that, whatever happens, God is in control. He has overcome the world already. He is victorious. Nothing is too large that He cannot stop it. Nothing is too complicated that He cannot fix it. Nothing we or anyone could do will ever thwart the good and perfect will of God.
Honestly, I can’t begin to see what good could possibly come from so many of these situations. But what I do know is that no one on earth is perfect. Our leaders can fail. Our fellow Christians can fall. Our faith may waver from time to time.
But God remains on the throne. He is always God, and always good.
So let me encourage you, before this election (or anytime after), get a newspaper, even if you have to go to the store just to buy one. You can do this mentally with online or TV news, but I don’t think anything can replace the act of writing over the news. It gives us a way to feel as though we’ve regained a little bit of control. It lets us see that, no matter how important these events are, God is greater.
And right now, I think all of us could stand a little bit of peace in our souls.
Here is the actual excerpt from the book.
How to Pray When the World Overwhelms You
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.
But take heart, because I have overcome the world. —John 16:33
Call me an ostrich, if you will, because I spend more time with my head buried in the sand than above it. When I read or watch the news, my soul withers. My heart hurts, and sorrow overwhelms me. Not all news is bad, of course, but that seems to be what is always emphasized. I need to remember—and maybe you do too—that although we will face all kinds of horrific things, devastation does not get the final word. God does. He triumphs in the end, and we have to hold on to that truth, whatever horrors or evils we witness.
DIRECTIONS: Pick up a newspaper and a magic marker. As you skim the stories, let yourself feel anger or grief, sadness or righteous indignation. But don’t let yourself get bogged down by despair, because God is bigger than every single one of these stories. Take your marker and pen your prayer right over the stories. Heal her. Bring hope. Shine Your light. Help me not to despair. Reveal Yourself. Restore. Renew. Fix it, Lord. Show mercy. Bring justice. Redeem lost time. Thank You.
(Taken from Week 7 Day 3 of Designed to Pray)