FAITHFUL LIVING: Pray for all during difficult times

His name is Danny Burns and he is a member of the U.S. Army. He is married to Yvonne and they are the parents of two children. I know nothing more about this family; not the ages of their kids or Danny’s military assignment or where Yvonne lives as she and her children await Danny’s return home. I do know that someone requested prayer for the Burns family and that request was submitted to an organization called the Presidential Prayer Team.

Located at www.presidential , founders describe their work as a “spiritual movement of the American people,” bringing together those who appreciate prayer uttered on their behalf as well as those who choose to respond to the war with Iraq by praying. According to the Web site, the organization is not affiliated with any political party and gains no direct support, official or unofficial, from the current administration or from any agency of the government. The independent status of the organization allows members to serve the prayer needs of all current and future leaders in the nation without influence, although I must say that the name and the flavor of the homepage feels decidedly Republican and conservative. I encourage you to work through the site, even if this is not a natural fit for you.

I learned of the organization this week and headed to my computer to do some investigating after viewing anti-war protesters holler at a group waving American flags — before lying down before a line of riot police in an act of civil disobedience. I have never experienced a positive reaction to such activity — not during my youth when I questioned everything under the sun and not now as I contemplate the notion that students who have walked through my classroom may now be sleeping on the sands of Iraq. This is because public defiance is simply not my style; it does not reflect the ways I prefer to approach people and issues. I do, however, admire anyone who learns of a situation and garners enough courage to move away from all forms of entertainment and respond on a personal level — in ways that are compatible with their personality and methodologies.

While I will not paint a sign, much less wave it to passersby, I will set my alarm earlier than usual to pray for the Burns family. I will plaster notes to myself on my bathroom mirror, in my car, and on my computer as a reminder to myself that I promised to pray for Danny, Yvonne and their children. I will do this because I am moved from somewhere deep within the quiet places of my soul. I pray in response to a growing understanding of hope and promise and obedience. I do it because a low-grade amount of stress, a touch of impatience, and a nagging sense of gloom fill me every time I watch warfront news on CNN unless I act on what God calls me to do and pray.

More than ever I am learning that we can be instruments of peace if we step beyond the experience of the moment and reach out to others with love and care from our small places around the world. Every time the political pursuits of nations seem to negate our efforts on a personal level to be instruments of peace is a victory for fear and darkness and evil. It is time, I believe, to lift our eyes off our earthly plain and up into the eyes of God. He promises to listen and respond, to give us hope when there is despair, light where there is darkness and joy in the face of ultimate sadness.

Who might we pray for? Everyone involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom. That includes our President and his cabinet, military commanders and soldiers. Think about their daily experiences and worries. Consider their families and add them to your list.

Pray for relief workers, asking God’s protection when they work with the innocent among the Iraqi people. May truth and peace find its way in what seems like an entirely dark and violent landscape.

St. Francis of Assisi asked God in his famous prayer to “Make me an instrument of Your peace.” It is here that the true surprise of prayer can be experienced: During every prayer you will become a positive player in this human drama.

Danny and Yvonne Burns will never know me but I have no doubt they will recognize the presence of a loving God, for I will call upon Him and just as God promised, He will listen. And love. And move.

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