Friday’s national report on additional job losses showed that an additional 530,000 Americans found themselves without work – laid off, positions terminated or businesses closed – during April.
The situation is tough, and during the multiple observances of National Day of Prayer on Thursday, many people mentioned the economic pain in which they or others find themselves.
The prayer concerns are justified. People through the ages have prayed in the context of their different faiths for understanding of trying circumstance and for an end to a particular deprivations and sufferings. People in many faith streams affirm the efficacy of prayer whether in a public gathering or, as Jesus of Nazareth suggested for personal prayer in Matthew 6:6: “…(W)hen you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to the Father which is in secret …”
The where of prayer is of secondary importance to the mindset entering prayer.
Ernest Trice Thompson, a distinguished Presbyterian preacher and scholar of the mid-20th century, wrote in the prefatory remarks for his book “The Sermon on the Mount” that, “Many Chistians believe that Jesus’ teachings … present beautiful ideals which cannot possibly be realized in real life; many others think that they have value in ordinary times but should be forgotten until after the present emergency.”
Prayer, of course, isn’t ordinary. It is the conscious reaching beyond our limits – seeking, hoping, petitioning to receive an inner light of some kind showing or suggesting a way that leads to resilience, recovery and insight.
The Sermon on the Mount, about which Thompson and countless others have written, is the spiritual core that pulls people away from their own limits, their self-pity and their belief that they are exempt from misfortune.
Thompson writes, “Not only Jesus, but life itself indicates that abiding happiness is dependent on inward condition and not on outward circumstances.”
Remember, Thompson writes, that Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Many people think that Jesus means people who are “poor-spirited,” Thompson writes.
The phrase in New Testament Greek, he says, “describes those who are conscious of their spiritual poverty.”
Thompson uses Edgar Goodspeed’s American English translation to clarify: “Blessed are those who feel their spiritual need, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.”
In that need and with that understanding, we can better apprehend where ultimate riches and securities lie:
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (from Matthew 6)
Perhaps, Thompson writes, “we are not any happier than we are … because we have been so happy with the good things of life that we have neglected the best things of life …”
That, he writes, is fellowship with God.
- The Friday editorial contained a factual error. Taxes on all brands of cigarettes will increase 50 cents per pack when the cigarette tax levy passed this week is enacted. An additional proposed tax of 43 cents per pack on non-premium brands not party to the tobacco lawsuit settlement is a separate issue and a separate, additional tax. We regret the error.
NEMS Daily Journal