Getting up and turning on the national news while fixing the coffee is my morning routine before sitting down with the java, to study the Scriptures and to blog. This morning, the news was profoundly disturbing. Last night, a gunman entered a Charleston, SC, church as the congregants were having Bible study and prayer meeting. He sat among the people for a few minutes and then stood up and opened fire. Murdered were 3 men (including the pastor leading the study) and 6 women.
My initial, visceral response to this news was anger, quickly followed by a prayer that this devil will be found and prosecuted. The Lord God promises that He is in charge of vengeance and justice and that He will bring it to pass in His own time and in His own way.
I will get revenge and pay them back at the time their foot slips; for the day of their disaster is near, and the impending judgment is rushing upon them!"
Deuteronomy 32:35 (NET)
The apostle Paul re-emphasizes this Old Testament truth in his letter to the Romans (12:19).
It is not wrong to pray for justice. No doubt the blood of these believers cries to the Lord from the ground, as did Abel's blood when he was murdered by the first human murderer, his brother, Cain.
How else should we pray?
- First and foremost, we should pray for the families of the victims, that the Lord would comfort them in their extreme loss and grief.
The is close to the brokenhearted
- We should thank God that we have, for the most part, the privilege still in this country to gather for worship without fear of either government reprisal or attack by a madman. I know that many of you believers are thinking, "It could have been we." Almost every Wednesday night of the calendar year, our church holds church activities - - - Wednesday night Bible study, choir practice, small group prayer meeting, children's activities, etc.
- As this country continues to descend deeper and deeper into apostasy, hurtling farther and farther from Almighty God, evil will continue to increase. The Church will not be immune, as we have seen from last night's bloodbath. The time is over when Christians could sit back comfortably in their sanctimony and ignore a world going to Hell. As Erick Erickson says, "You will be made to care." That time is now here, if it was not already.
In Ephesians 5:13-15, Paul exhorts the early Christians to wake up!
But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, "Awake, Sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise...
- You can be spiritually "dead" and still be physically living, you know. And, many of us in Christendom today act like we are dead, although in actuality, we are "asleep in the light", as Keith Green used to say. So, we need to pray for wakefulness and watchfulness.
Your enemy, the Devil, is like a roaring lion, roaming around, seeking someone(s) to devour.
(1 Peter 5:8)
- We need to pray for revival, and for it to begin first in the Church of Jesus Christ. I've blogged about this before and am not going to "plow that row over".
- We need to pray for wisdom and discernment, in order to be "wise as serpents, yet harmless as doves": the exhortation from Jesus in Matthew 10:16.
Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them. For the ways of the LORD are right, and the righteous will walk in them. But, transgressors will stumble in them.
- Let's also pray that this demon-possessed man (and he most surely is) will hear the gospel and turn his life over to Jesus. Oh, yes! Our Lord can save even "the worst of sinners". He is in the business of setting the captive free! Do you think that those He liberated from demonic possession in the New Testament were any worse or better? No, and He is still in the business of liberation and salvation. There is NONE beyond His reach. Hallelujah! Remember, dear one, if ANY of us received what we "deserve", we would all be on the fastest train to Hell. There is not one single one of us able to achieve our own righteousness, no, not one. This is why Paul called himself "the chief of sinners".
Heavenly Father, I know that those slain last night who knew Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are now in Your presence, where they will worship and serve and rule and reign forever. I magnify and worship you, Lord, for your mercy and grace! These people are modern-day martyrs, no different from those Middle Eastern Christians who have recently been martyred because they worship their Lord Jesus Christ. Please, Father, comfort the brokenhearted loved ones and friends of these slain. Please exact justice from the one responsible, human and demon. But, I also pray that this man will come to know you as Lord and Savior, before it is eternally too late. We, the brothers and sisters in faith of this AME congregation in Savannah, are heartbroken over this tragedy. From this horrible event, may we, the Church, fall on our collective faces before You and beg for protection, for revival, for empowerment to boldly preach Your gospel to every creature, no matter the cost! Please give us wisdom and discernment, humility and grace. In Jesus' name, amen.