George Bowers Sr.: Establishing a U.S. prayer force
Following the most recent terrorist attack in California, certain politicians and media have mocked and ridiculed calls to prayer. Mike Luckovich’s political cartoon that appeared in this paper on Dec. 7 lampooned certain officials for announcing a doubling of prayers as a potential strategy to fight terrorism. Only in 21st century America would such sacrilege be considered humorous. This circumstance indicates that many Americans are ignorant of the great power of prayer and its role in our nation’s history.
In 1774, when our yet unborn nation was contemplating war and revolution, the leaders in Philadelphia opened their Constitutional Convention with a lengthy prayer meeting and Bible study. Evidently, they believed in prayer’s value. During the Revolutionary War, Continental leaders, including George Washington, John Adams, Sam Adams, Jonathan Trumbull and many others repeatedly called on colonists to fervently pray.
We have a tendency today to believe that greater numbers, superior strategies, and advanced weaponry enabled our forefathers to defeat Great Britain. The exact opposite is true as the mother nation was infinitely more powerful, more numerous, and much better equipped. Washington and others regularly credited almighty God, divine providence, and their heavenly father with victories that were impossible to explain any other way. We had no Air Force, but a very strong prayer force.
More recently, during the dark days of World War, American presidents and congressmen often called our nation to prayer and many military leaders have testified to astounding outcomes from impossible situations using the word “miracle” to explain them. Throughout our history, inexplicable weather patterns, strange twists, and bizarre events have all been attributed to God, as well they should.
Medically, scientific research has documented the improved recovery rates of patients who pray and who are prayed for. I can personally testify to several recoveries and healings that are nothing short of miraculous. Doubt if you will, laugh if you wish, but I’ll take prayer over additional legislation any day. Take a poll of law enforcement officers to see which they prefer: more gun control or additional prayer. Perhaps if our presidents and congressmen did double their prayers, their effectiveness in addressing the myriad of economic, military, and social problems facing this nation might possibly increase.
Just off the large rotunda in our Capitol building, there is a small prayer chapel that I’m thankful several Congressmen do, in fact, use regularly. There are a number who continue to value God’s wisdom over their own and seek it daily through prayer.
In the recent attack, while others were publicly ridiculing prayer, victims still inside the building were begging for it through their texts. Indeed, the divine first responder seems to have done more to prevent greater carnage than all those who showed up a few minutes later. Three pipe bombs left at the scene did not explode for some strange reason. I wonder why? Not a single police officer was seriously wounded or killed in the shootout. I wonder why? It’s obvious from the cache of weapons, ammo, and explosives that this couple intended to do much greater harm but their plans were frustrated. While I’m sure faithless individuals will point to some nebulous concept of coincidence, Christians recognize those true miracles as God’s signature.
Only in heaven will we know the true impact of our prayers. Only there will we see how many lives were saved, atrocities minimized, and even wars averted by the prayers of God’s people. And how many more could have been, but weren’t because we failed to pray. God can, and sometimes does, work in the absence of our prayers, but he chooses to involve us through this avenue most often.
Referring to prayer in 2 Corinthians 10:4, Paul states, “The weapons we fight with are not those of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” Prayer is based on a vanishing concept today called faith that the Bible says is capable of overcoming the world.
Should we take action against terrorism? Absolutely. Should we pray? Without a doubt. It is not either/or. But if you must choose between the two, I’ll take prayer every time. Only a godless, faithless people would ridicule such a powerful weapon as prayer. We need to reestablish prayer superiority in this nation and recognize how desperately we need God’s help and guidance.
George Bowers Sr. is the Senior Pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of seven books including his latest book of poetry, Holy Verses. He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org.