One of my favorite CDs is Paul Wilbur's "Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem." It is not unusual for me to replay this CD repeatedly. At the beginning of the week, I was doing this, and lines from various songs began to stand out to me. I started to think that praying these lines would be powerful. Each song contributes to a way that we can pour our hearts out to the Lord. Pouring out our hearts is an important thing to do in this ever-changing season of loss, shock, trauma, and chaos. Many weigh in with possible solutions to solve the problems of our beloved nation. However, we should realize that man cannot legislate righteousness in humankind or change hard hearts; only God can do this!
The people of God frequently strayed from His ways. God, acting as a good parent, disciplined them and then he would bring them back to Himself. He said to Ezekiel, tell my people, "I had concern for my holy name, which the people of Israel profaned among the nations where they had gone...I will show the holiness of my great name...Then the nations will know that I am the Lord...I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws." (Ezekiel 36:21-27)
We see how God has the power to change a heart. How we need Him to do this for the heart of our nation! Without God we are helpless. The bad reports coming from our media make me want to hide. This thought is wonderfully expressed as Paul sings "In Your Presence Oh God" by Lynn Deshazo. One of the verses says, "I want to hide where the flood of evil cannot reach me, where I'm covered by the blood. I want to be where the schemes of darkness cannot touch me—In your presence oh God!" We all need to be in the presence of God, especially in this season. It is in these places of intimacy with the Lord where He gives us His heart for the nations and reveals how to pray.
Scripture is clear that we are called to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: 'May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.' For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, 'Peace be within you.' For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your prosperity." (Psalm 122:6-9) The last verse of Paul's song, "Shalom Jerusalem" portrays God's desire to change the hearts of His people: "Israel, beloved Ephraim my son, How my heart would thrill to hear you say The Messiah has come. Oh, my brother, hear these words; may they pierce your soul. Turn again to worship Adonai, Messiah you will know."
The prophet Habakkuk understood that we must wait for the revelation of the Lord. He promised to look to see what the Lord will say to him. God gives a warning: "Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and establishes a town by injustice." (Habakkuk 2:12) Habakkuk cries out to God, "Lord, I have heard of Your fame; I stand in awe of Your deeds. Lord, repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy." (Habakkuk 3:2) We need the truth of God's Kingdom to reign in us. It is time for us to confess and repent for the sin of turning away from God's ways and for rebellion against Him. It is time to invite the Lord to come and take His place on the throne of our hearts.
The song "Even So" was written by Steve Merkel. As Paul sings, we need to join Him in the invitation to our Lord, "You are welcome in this place; be enthroned upon our praises. May our worship rise like incense as we magnify the Son. Mighty God of Israel, Lamb upon the Throne, all blessing, and honor to our God forevermore. We join our hearts together, we come in one accord; the bonds of peace unite us in the Spirit of the Lord...Let the Spirit and the Bride say come...To the Lion and the Lamb, Heaven's King, the Great I Am; Come take your place on Your throne.” Revelation 5:8 tells us that the 24 elders around the Throne of the Lord had harps and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. Let us fill those bowls with our prayers of repentance and invitation to the Lord. Let worship of our God arise!
Joan E. Mathias