My wife and I journeyed to celebrate our wedding Anniversary on a brief getaway to New Hampshire. I assured her as we left home in Waco that I would “unplug” so as to enjoy these days together without intrusion or distraction; however, repugnant reality has a way of worming its way back in despite our best intentions. As we arrived at our picturesque lodging nestled among autumn brilliance in the White Mountains, I received a sequence of text messages informing of the dastardly actions of a lone lunatic in diminutive Sutherland Springs, Texas. My heart instantly ached for fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, and a pastor who lost more than any should be asked to bear. Christ said he would build his church and that the gates of hell would not prevail against her, but this day it feels like there is a crack in heaven and evil is reveling in itself. I catch myself saying “All I can do is pray,” as if prayer is a last futile effort-more of a polite gesture than powerful intercession. Instead, I will refuse the urge to shoulder shrug and dismiss the opportunity to bear this burden. I will pray for those who survived along with the families of those who did not. I will plead with heaven on behalf of a country church, a rural Texas town, and church members across this land who will gather next Lord’s Day looking over collective shoulders.
Prayer is not futility; it is warfare on the highest plane. Believers battle best when turn to the Father and refuse to relinquish this world to the enemy. Patrick Henry concluded his March 1775 address with the immortal line, “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” Henry’s speech convinced the Second Virginia Convention to raise militias, and many Virginia militia recruits marched under banners emblazoned with “Liberty or Death,” and some even sewed the words onto their shirts. We, too, march under a banner; only ours brandishes the word “Love,” and we employ its admonition by refusing fear and praying the prayer our Lord taught us:
“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”