“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayers of the upright is His delight.” Proverbs 15:8
This week I tuned in to our Hallicrafter Short-Wave radio to the broadcast of the Armed Forces Radio, Washington, D.C, This station is heard all over the world, including the tiny island of Jamaica. Each morning we tune in and hear the world news, political, national and especially military news – the war in Vietnam, social change, etc. One does not feel very remote on this island when he hears all the news, even the news from home, strikes, lawlessness, the weather, and shortage in electrical power. One is very much aware when he hears all this that the Lamb has taken the Book from the right hand of Him that sitteth on the Throne and issues his commands for the horsemen to ride in the earth. And one thinks: Lord, thy judgments are a might deep and as the mountains high!
This particular morning I shared with the account and report of the “prayer breakfast” which has being held in Washington. Present were the President of the United States, Richard Nixon, his cabinet, the Supreme Court judges, the Congress, and the members, in great part, of the House of Representatives, and, we were told, the entire Armed Forces. About an estimated 200,000 men were participating besides many groups in the various States, governors and the great and noble in the land.
Furthermore, there were stokes-men who gave their interpretation of the character, aim and benefits of such a Prayer Breakfast. It was emphasized that this prayer breakfast was undenominational and non-partisan. The Scriptures were not cited as motivation, but reference was made to the words of Abraham Lincoln: that “what constitutes the bulwark of a nation is not its embattlements, its weapons, tanks and guns. The greatness of a nation is it spirit, the inner strength and fortitude of the soul.” It was during the terrible days of the Civil War that Lincoln uttered those words. Now we have our Vietnam with all its sufferings and perplexities. We need spiritual values; we need balance of vision – we must ask God!
A prayer breakfast is conductive to make a better congressman and is effective for religious fellowship and it is good to listen to the Bible which is the record written by men of their experiences of the divine!
However, when Mr. John S. Wheeler began to read his selected passage from the prophecy of Isaiah, the great of the world must have trembled just a bit. He read from the New English Version of the Bible. Nevertheless the thunder of God in this passage was rather discomfiting for any who came that morning to pray, to bring his abominable sacrifice. He read the verses 10-20, and there we read KJV: “Hear the word of the Lord, ye rules of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. For what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? Saith the LORD….When ye come to appear before me, who required this at your hand, to tread my courts?…And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood…” When I heard this read I trembled before the Almighty God, I could not stomach the New English Version that had the audacity to read, “Come now let us argue this out together…,” instead of “come let us reason together.”
And in another breakfast group of the House of Representatives, a woman read Matthew 26:32, 33. “And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth the sheep from the goats, and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, and the goats on the left….”
This reading too gave cause for pause and reflection!
Here was Jew and Catholic, Scottish Rite Masons, lily white Protestants and stark non-church men all coming together to pray! And the remarkable thing about it all was that they did not pray. They had breakfast, applauded the spokes-men, talked about the need of prayer, and how erstwhile great Americans had seen the need of prayer.’
The only prayer I heard was when one was going to lead in prayer and he read the twenty-third Psalm. And when he had finished there was not the silence in heaven and earth which is depicted in Rev. 8:1-3 where the seven angels which stood before God with their seven trumpets, stood at attention, while the one angel comes with the golden censer to whom is given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden alter which is before the Throne….!
There was cheap applause!
President Nixon too, spoke. When he arose there was a long and loud applause. He spoke soberly. He was impressed with the personnel, the dignitaries, all the concentration of power in that one large room gathered in a prayer breakfast session. Then he asked the sobering question: What will American be in the year 2000? Strongest country, richest and most prosperous country in the world? But strength alone is not greatness, neither riches. In the small beginnings America was the hope of the world, she stood for spiritual wealth. Yes, there is still a great deal of goodness and moral fiber left in this country. He ended by siting the request of Solomon which is found in I. Chron. 1:9: “Now, O LORD GOD … give me not wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people . . .” But he did not pray this as did Solomon who stood in the midst of the Kingdom of Israel and not in the midst of giant America with its far-flung armies all over the world.
Prayer is the gift of grace to the righteous. It is the portion of the upright. It is not the portion of the nations of the world. The prayer of the upright is God’s delight. It is the prayer of childlike faith that says: “Thy Kingdom came, that is, rule us so by thy Word and Spirit, that we may submit ourselves more and more unto Thee; preserve and increase Thy church, destroy the words of the devil, and all violence which would exalt itself against Thee; and also all wicked counsels devised against Thy word; till the full perfection of Thy kingdom come, wherein Thou shall be all in all”
(Question 123, H. Catechism).
Meanwhile the prayers of the saints ascend before the throne, and the fire of the alter is cast on the earth, and “there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.”
The delightful prayers of the elect are heard speedily, for their cry is music in the ears of the Most High!
Originally Published in:
Vol. 31 No. 1 March 1971