Wherever I go, I hear people saying they’re praying for us in New Orleans. I thank them and then gently suggest how they pray. “Pray big,” I say, and sometimes hand them a little business card we’ve printed up with a suggested prayer: “Father, you love this city. Jesus died for this city. You have many people here. Satan has held it too long, Lord. Take it back. Do a new thing in New Orleans, Lord. A God thing. A big thing.”
Routine praying for this troubled city is not going to do the job. Case in point.
“Five teenagers shot dead in Central City” was the headline on Sunday morning’s front page. Subtitle: “Violence is almost beyond explaining.” Three 19-year-old boys, one 16, and one 17 were gunned down Saturday around 4 a.m. No clues, no suspects. The sheer carnage makes police believe it was drug-related.
A few paragraphs from the story:
“Up and down nearby streets, where most houses still bear the telltale spray-painted X’s left by rescue workers after the Aug. 29 storm, neighbors gathered on porches and discussed the gruesome crime and the recklessness of adults who, they said, should have been minding the victims.”
“‘How could you let a 16-year-old go out at that time of the morning?’ said James Williams, 26. ‘And for (the perpetrators) to do something like this to the children is a shame.'”
“Sitting on a stoop across Danneel Street from the spot where the SUVslid to a halt, Clarence Joseph peered at a patch of bloodstained asphalt and evoked religious prophecy to describe the early-morning carnage.”
“‘The Bible said that if you don’t teach them at home, the world is going to get them,’ he said. ‘And that’s what happening.'”
“Even Bryson, an officer with 26 years at the New Orleans Police Department, choked back emotion as he detailed the crime for reporters at a late morning news conference. ‘I’m a father, and I couldn’t imagine getting this news today, the day before Father’s Day,’ Bryson said.”
Friday, a sheriff’s deputy was killed in nearby LaPlace, and several police officers have been shot in the surrounding communities in recent days.
What we have here is a full-fledged crime wave. All the violence from only half the population.
I wonder. Did we think the devil would go quietly? That he would turn loose his iron grip on this city without a murmur? That he would give up so easily what he won over so many years? We know differently now. Bible students will recall that sometimes when God’s man ordered the demon to leave its victim, it obeyed, but only with loud screaming and resistance.
I hope you will take this as our personal request for more prayer, deeper prayer, more intense prayer–for this city and its leaders, for the people and their protectors, for the churches and their ministers, and for the rebuilders and the volunteers who are always here in large numbers.
My wife suggested I share with you something on prayer I posted on our website a couple of years ago. It was the gist of a summertime of Wednesday night prayer lessons I did at the First Baptist Church of Kenner. Please feel free to pass it along or reprint it or to use in any Christ-honoring way.
“When you don’t know how to pray, pray anyway.
IGNORANCE IS NO EXCUSE.
When you don’t feel like praying, pray anyway.
DEPRESSION IS NO EXCUSE.
When dullness sits on you like a vulture, and you can’t muster enough enthusiasm to change channels, much less to pray, pray anyway.
BOREDOM IS NO EXCUSE.
When you see no need to pray and no reason to intercede for those about you, recognize this as a sign of impending danger, and pray anyway.
BLINDNESS IS NO EXCUSE.
When you’ve grown spiritually lazy and feel that you’ll never be able to pick up your Bible and read it the way you once did, pray anyway.
LAZINESS IS NO EXCUSE.
When you don’t understand what the big deal is about prayer, and you think it’s overrated because it never did you much good, pray anyway.
IMMATURITY IS NO EXCUSE.
When you’re too tired to remember your own name, and you know God will understand if you don’t pray, pray anyway.
FATIGUE IS NO EXCUSE.
When you’re embarrassed to be back before God confessing the same sins and admitting the same failures, come on and pray anyway.
SHAME IS NO EXCUSE.
When you’ve been unfaithful and you know it and you feel that burden of guilt that makes you want to run and hide under the porch, pray anyway.
SIN IS NO EXCUSE.
When the nagging voice of the enemy keeps telling you there is no God and even if there were, He’d never have anything to do with a nothing like you, pray anyway.
UNBELIEF IS NO EXCUSE.
We can bless ourselves immeasurably by rescuing our prayer life from bondage to our emotions and circumstances. There is no time and there are no conditions in which prayer is not necessary, not helpful, and not the right thing to do.
Let us pray.”
If you are praying for us, please go to this article at www.joemckeever.com and drop down to the end of it and tell us you are praying. Add any comments you wish, or even type in your prayer for others to read and be blessed by.
This city and your brothers and sisters in this city need your prayers as never before. Thank you.
–Joe McKeever, Director of Missions, Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans