Calloused Knees Rising

Today is the National Day of Prayer.

I know, I just stated the obvious. However, I feel a slight ache in my soul to know that praying for our country is anything but normal. There is no “obviously” to it. We are in part failing to pray for our country. I know that might come off as a bit harsh, but I feel that it is the truth. The concept is beautiful. The idea of it makes my heart literally beat faster.

I have deep beloved history in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Both of my grandfathers fought bravely during WWII, covering both the European front and the Pacific front. One as an army medic and the other an army soldier captured as a POW. My father has spent his life as a high school history teacher that taught well past his massive knowledge base regarding the history of our country and more from the depth of his passion. I have seen my dad cry more than a handful of times talking about cavernous parts of our American History. We have cried together.

And yet, I wonder as we lay our heads down in freedom tonight are we provoked to plead for the wisdom of our country, it’s leaders, it’s safety and it’s union. I wonder.

I have been knee deep in reading Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. Now, don’t get the idea that I am all scholarly or anything. {Some parts have taken me the better half of a day to fully wrap my brain around. And that was just one sentence.} However, in seeking to understand the enemy and how he operates and provokes us to temptation I am hard pressed to study all those that have found ways to articulate his stupidity and craftiness. C.S. Lewis is one of the best at bringing to Light all misconstrued concepts that lie waste in the darkness of human nature. So I’ve made a choice to do a cannonball into the deep waters. I’m being enlightened. Today I crossed my eyeballs over a paragraph that literally made me gasp out loud.

{I should note that this book is based on the vantage point of ‘Screwtape’, a highly placed assistant to ‘Our Father Below’ aka Satan. C.S. Lewis gives the correspondence of the worldly-wise old devil to his nephew Wormword, a novice demon in charge of securing the damnation of an ordinary young man. The Screwtape Letters is the most engaging account of temptation – and triumph over it.}

“The great thing is to prevent his doing anything. As long as he does not convert it into action, it does not matter how much he thinks about this new repentance. Let the little brute wallow in it. Let him, if he has any bent that way, write a book about it; that is often an excellent way of sterilizing the seeds which the Enemy {in this context the Enemy is actually God} plants in a human soul. Let him do anything but act. No amount of piety in his imagination and affections will harm us if we can keep it out of his will. As one of the humans has said, active habits are strengthened by repetition but passive ones are weakened. The more often he feels without acting, the less he will be able ever to act, and in the long run, the less he will be able to feel.”

Interceding on behalf of our nation is the cry of my heart. I have seen that today our nation and those called to pray have stood boldly in prayer over our great land. It should be the cry of all of our hearts. But here is where the pain comes in….if we only set aside today to pray…..

If today comes and goes and the sun rises on tomorrow I wonder if like Screwtape says to his nephew, “the more often he feels without acting, the less he will be able ever to act, and in the long run, the less he will be able to feel”…I wonder does that happen with us? Are we liable to forget and stop pleading? To feel prayer, but forget to act prayer.

Today we recognize the desperate need our country has to return to the God that established this great nation. Tomorrow we go back to our lives as civilians living, breathing, walking, working and establishing a lasting legacy with every minute that clicks past the hour. As believers it would be keenly more comfortable to situate ourselves around a table and discuss the decency of our morality in comparison to a lost and dying world. But would that be what pleased the heart of God? Or would pleading for our country and then allowing that same pleading to turn towards the children we are raising as they become the next generation of leaders. To then turn our passionate pleas to action as we engage in our marriages to keep safe the covenants established by God. To then apply the truth of prayer to jobs we occupy and the relationships we establish. To apply, to act, to be proactive in the Voice we use every time we utilize the vehicle of social media. To reach out as the hands, the feet, the very heart of God as we love lavishly those that are in need within the boundaries of our communities.

Church, are we rising up as we kneel down in prayer…..

I have so many favorite books, authors and quotes on prayer however today I kept returning my thoughts to how Eugene Peterson chose to introduce the book of James in the Message Bible translation.

“The letter of James shows one of the church’s early pastors skillfully going about his work of confronting, diagnosing, and dealing with areas of misbelief and misbehavior that had turned up in congregations committed to his care. Deep and living wisdom is on display here, wisdom both rare and essential. Wisdom is not primarily knowing the truth, although it certainly includes that; it is skill in living. For, what good is a truth if we don’t know how to live it? What good is an intention if we can’t sustain it? According to church traditions, James carried the nickname “Old Camel Knees” because of thick callouses built up on his knees from many years of determined prayer. The prayer is foundational to the wisdom. Prayer is always foundational to wisdom.”

And oh, do we so desperately need wisdom to live it out.

Now, I have typed this entire post while listening to the incredible Bible Series soundtrack {aka “Holy Music” as we decided with our awesome college students that rocked watching the entire series with us! I might even suggest listening to it in the background as you read so you can know and maybe understand why I was typing this standing up in my spirit…just a thought.}, so I’m guessing this might very well come off as being more impassioned that practiced. But ringing in my ears is the passion of my grandparents, that have lived through the Great Depression, WWII, Vietnam, the Cold War, the rise and fall of great Presidents, as well as the ebb and flow of a generation of Christ followers and every time I leave their house they say to me..”Cari, we are just concerned about the state of the country, concerned and wondering who will step up to carry the torch.” We are losing so many of our Greatest Generation, and with no politics in mind – simply the Church and God’s heart – who is rising up as the next Greatest Generation of believers?

I pray it is us. The ones that take seriously the prayers we form on calloused knees and then rise to do battle for our families, our children, our country. Church, may we pray audacious prayers…then may we rise to live skillfully and tactfully and gracefully in Jesus Name.

May we pray today {and every day} and then rise as world changers.

“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:13-16 

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