This isn't exactly a Christmas blog either, but if we're going to spend extra time in prayer on the twenty-eighth of December, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, as I suggested earlier this week, how shall we pray? We want to see solutions to the problem of gun violence in America. Here are some suggestions for using the ACTS format—adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication.
We begin by praising God for who he is and what he is like. Meditate on several of the names and attributes of God below, thinking especially about how they relate to the situation we are in. Tell God how much you appreciate that quality and put yourself and our country into his capable hands. (You may want to come back on successive days to adore further this great and sovereign God of ours.)
Faithful Promise Keeper
Jesus, the Firstborn
Jesus, Our High Priest
Holy One of Israel
Jesus, Humble Servant
Hope of the Nations
Immanuel, God with Us
King of Kings
Jesus, the Lamb of God
Source of Life
The Only God
God of Revelation
The Good Shepherd
Jesus, the Suffering Servant
God of All Truth
The Unchanging One
Jesus, the Word Made Flesh
God of Wrath
Confession is recognizing and acknowledging before God that what he says about us is true—all have sinned and come short of his glory. It goes hand-in-hand with repentance—turning away from that sin. As you praised him for who he is, you may well have seen things in your own life that should change. Confess them, turn from them, and trust God to forgive as he has promised.
On several occasions in the Bible we see leaders confessing the sins of the nation as well as their individual sins. I blogged here about using Daniel’s prayer as a model. Today, as we ask God to intervene in our nation, let us begin by confessing our national failures. Notice that I say “our.” It does no good for us to confess “their” sin, the sins of “those other people,” like some kind of Pharisee. Jesus said that he did not go away justified (Luke 18:14).
In recent days we have heard many times that we should hug our families and loved ones and give thanks for them. Do that now. Thank God for the times he has intervened in your life and protected you even when you didn’t know you were in danger.
This is the part where we are ready to ask God for things—after we have adored him, confessed our own sin and thanked him for what he has already done. You and I may differ on the specifics of what we believe should be done, but here are some things I think we can agree to ask God for:
Wisdom for our leaders to find solutions to gun violence that protect the right of citizens to self-defense. Pray especially for Vice President Biden who will be heading the taskforce as well as specific representatives and senators.
An attitude of co-operation across the aisle. We will not find solutions if we dig in our heals and insist on no compromise of our traditional party positions.
Better care for the mentally ill. Uphold clinics and mental health practitioners in your area.
Wisdom for families of mentally ill young people and intervention from outside when the families are not able
The principal and staff of your local school as they deal with children frightened by recent events. Pray also that they would have wisdom to deal with children they see with emotional problems.
Your local school board as they review security arrangements
A grass roots turning away from the culture of violence that promotes music, movies and games where we pretend to kill and so de-sensitize ourselves
I’m sure you can add more. Bethlehem was the great turning point for world history. May Newtown be a turning point for America.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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