This is what was on my heart when I woke up this morning. Sometimes I make jokes about praying, this is not one of those times.
I PRAY FOR my nation because it has lost its way and doesn't seem to know how to find it.
I pray for my nation where any crime can be readily ignored when committed by an ideological ally but is wholly unforgiveable when committed by an ideological foe.
I pray for my city, state and nation where selfishness regularly trumps responsibility as we expect someone else to carry our burdens, some other neighborhood to take responsibility for what should be taken care of in our own backyards.
I pray for my nation where venom from across the political spectrum so overwhelms ordinary decency that universally acknowledged problems can't be addressed sensibly -- whether it's healthcare, social security or our national security.
I pray for a world in which suicide bombers target public places filled with civilians, bomb the emergency responders as they aid them, and then the hospitals' emergency rooms when the wounded are taken there -- and think they are doing God's will.
I pray for my world where a committee of highly educated people can search the globe for someone who has furthered the cause of world peace and the best they can do is find someone who has talked about it.
I pray for my nation where you can go to the movie theater daily for months without ever hearing "God" or "Jesus" -- except in curses.
I pray for my nation where the religion of no religion is exalted while traditional faith is diminished, where ardent atheists and adamant agnostics can be paid for their views at public universities but believers of any stripe working in the same places are fearful of speaking a word of what they believe lest they violate the separation of church and state.
I pray for my nation so blessed with wealth that its citizenry has grown fat, figuratively and literally, but remains ungrateful for the material gifts it has been given, and unrepentant of the waste that it has made of them.
I pray for my nation that has become so filled with violence that an isolated brutal murder is practically un-newsworthy.
I pray for my world where God-given freedom, which was intended to give us the opportunity to be benefactors of blessing, has been turned into a license for licentiousness.
I pray for my nation where out-of-wedlock births are becoming the norm and two-parent families an aberration.
I pray for my world where the power of the Internet is used every day to expose hundreds of millions of innocent children, and billions of corruptible adults, to the vilest pornography.
I pray for my nation where gay and lesbian couples have a greater commitment to getting marriage rights than heterosexual couples do to keeping their marriages intact.
I pray for my state, where after decades of uninterrupted prosperity, none of our leaders prepared for the possibility of an inevitable economic downturn -- and then put the brunt of subsequent budget cuts on some of the most vulnerable, most underserved citizens: those with mental illness.
I pray for my nation where speculation passes for investing and the government promotes gambling.
I pray for my world where we hold well-intentioned ceremonies such as the blessing of the animals while simultaneously sacrificing the lives of millions of unborn humans each year because of their inconvenience.
I pray for myself that I don't start to think that these prayers are for others' flaws and failings, not recognizing my own face in the mirror.
I pray to God that he give us the grace to have mercy on each other for our sins and shortcomings, and, that as we turn away from our greedy and crooked ways, he will have mercy on us all. And even in view of the unholy mess we have made of this his marvelous creation, I believe God is willing -- given what he offers us in the person of Jesus.
Gary D. Gaddy needs your help in prayer because he doesn’t pray nearly enough.
A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday October 16, 2009.
Copyright 2009 Gary D. Gaddy