The call to national prayer seems to be an Old Testament vision of God. Given the recent vindictive prose of the election cycle and the vile nature of political cartoons, one would approach God with fear and trembling seeking mercy, not vengeance.
Prayer is not so much about changing God as changing ourselves; if we are one nation, under God, our needs must not be defined by our greed.
If is not difficult to understand that such hurt is converted into hate by those with an agenda to conquer. One glimpse of the Bahrain skyline and another of the Gaza tunnels and one can understand that violence seems the only option for the encapsulated and thus enslaved.
A stadium-sized prayer will be answered with the burning question posted by Edwin Markham, in his poem The Man with the Hoe:
O masters, lords, and rulers in all lands, Is this the handiwork you give to God?
This monstrous thing distorted and soul-quenched?
How will you ever straighten up this shape?
Touch it again with immortality;
Give back the upward looking and the light; Rebuild in it the music and the dream; Make right the immemorial infamies, Perfidious wrongs, immedicable woes.
If we believe in corporate prayer, we must first ask for forgiveness and cleansing. We cannot seek mercy for ourselves then demand justice for others. Only the self-righteous could be so bold.
Thomas J. Zwemer