The president has responded to the faith leaders’ request for the resumption of prayer meetings and worship services. From 1 June 2020, places of worship will be permitted to conduct their ministries under strict conditions and limited to 50 people or less at a time. Further, he has called South Africa to hold a day of prayer on Sunday 31 May 2020. Generally, this sounds good … but for me there is a hitch. At this stage, to resume worship services, I think, is not the best plan because of the virus’ aggressive ability to transfer. Then, to hold a day of prayer on 31 May needs to be understood as a call associated with many people from different faiths.
The Anglican Prayer Book (which is almost 100% Scripture) contains prayers for those in authority for Sunday and mid-week worship. This means that we pray for the government at least weekly, if not more, not just when the president calls for prayer. Paul writes to Timothy, saying:
1Ti 2:1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time.
It is Biblical for followers of Jesus to pray for our leaders … actually, it is a must. No prayer–no right to complain! But notice what verse 5 says … one God and one Mediator who is Jesus Christ!
Does everyone pray to this one God or are there more than one God? If there are more than one God, do they collaborate and agree to the prayer requests for a country arising from people of all different faiths? It is true that written into our country’s constitution there is freedom of religion … but does this make all religions and all gods real and true? In other words, are there false gods?
A very interesting incident happened with the Prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 18. Read from verse 16 to 39. This relates to king Ahab and his evil wife Jezebel and their false worship. Verse 18 tells us that Ahab abandoned the Lord’s commands … that is, he turned away from the Lord and turned to worship the Baals … that is, false gods. When you get to verse 20-21 you find that the king and his wife’s religious change had influenced Israel, the people of God! At the end of verse 21, Elijah issues a challenge … “if the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God follow him.” [Notice God’s real name is LORD]. See what followed … “the people said nothing”. These people had seen and experienced the pagan worship of Jezebel in temples and shrines dedicated to the Baals. They had seen personally been at the poles erected where people gathered. They had experienced the sacrifices, including infant sacrifices … they had eyeballed the mysticism and were attracted to it. That is why they were silent to Elijah’s challenge. It’s into this environment that Elijah challenges the people in verse 23 following. Then you see what happens as the false prophets go into their mad frenzy (v26-29)! After all, manmade gods are nothing but idols, useless and powerless. They are nothing! Then suddenly, Elijah, having achieved what he desired, he calls the people to witness what a true prophet, under inspiration is able to do! Look at verses 30-38. Is Elijah a miracle worker? Not at all. The LORD, the one true God is. He is the miracle worker authenticating Himself as the only God and Elijah as His true prophet and Elijah’s religion as the only true religion! The people now see and witness with their own eyes. Nothing was hidden or mystic or induced through chanting, dancing and bodily mutilation. Look at the end of the passage:
1Ki 18:39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!”
There is One, True, Living God. He is LORD. He created all things; He sustains all things; He revealed Himself through what is seen (creation); He made Himself known by coming to this planet (virgin birth, holy life, amazing ministry, death and resurrection); He gave His Spirit who has provided us with His Word, the Bible. He is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit … three persons, yet one substance. This is the God of the Holy Faith arising from the Bible. This is the God who hears the prayers of His chosen people. This is the God who hears our prayers … and this is the God who answers our prayers according to His will and understanding. Notice, the prophets of Baal’s performance were without any response from their dead, useless idol.
Dear God, give me such confidence when I pray because I know I am praying to the only real God. Thank You for hearing me and thank You for answering my prayers according to Your good will. Thank You that You are the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Thank You for life in Jesus. Amen.