The Orange Leader
Philip Yancey, a Christian author about whom I have great admiration, writes of his early beginning as a journalist. He says his writing career began with Campus Life Magazine (a youth oriented publication) which he called “superb training, as I know no more daunting challenge than writing about matters of faith for spoiled American teenagers.” Reading this reminded me of my teen years; of becoming a Christian at age 16, and the struggles of my own faith during that time. I don’t want to believe that mine was a “faith [of] a spoiled American teenager,” but I could be wrong. Now, looking back over a few decades of study, prayer, Bible reading and serving the Lord I believe I can say with a justifiable hope that I’m not “a spoiled American Christian adult.” (I’ll know for sure when I stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ, as will every Christian).
The Apostle Paul has a very serious exhortation for all of us when he says, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates [i.e., fail to pass the test?]” (2 Corinthians 13:5 MSG). Understanding exactly how serious this is makes me want to pray the prayer of the Psalmist when he said, “Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart” (Ps 26:2). Or, as the Easy To Read Version says, “Look closely at me, Lord, and test me. Judge my deepest thoughts and emotions.” That is one of the most practical and usable prayers one can pray. It makes me think that only a spoiled Christian adult—a lazy and self-justified and self-deceived one—would fail to pray it on a regular basis.
According to statistics I read, church attendance in America shows a downward trend. After the 9-11 attack in NY City there was a dramatic rise in church attendance. Many I talk to today express an uncertainty and fear of the direction America is taking. Shouldn’t this uncertainty and fear be translated into increased church attendance and especially earnest prayer? Scripture clearly teaches us to pray for those who make our laws, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior” (1 Timothy 2:2,3).