Theology of Prayer: Scriptural Support (Part 16: Lamentations)

Lamentations is a book that laments the fall and destruction of Jerusalem. It is not unlike the lament psalms found in Psalms. This book ends in tragedy, and it expresses the broken spirit of the people. It is filled with frank speech, yet it mostly is declarative of what happened.

Lamentations 1 is declarative. Yet, it makes a request:

See, Lord, how distressed I am! I am in torment within, and in my heart I am disturbed, for I have been most rebellious. Outside, the sword bereaves; inside, there is only death. . . . May you bring the day you have announced so they may become like me. Let all their wickedness come before you; deal with them as you have dealt with me because of all my sins. My groans are many and my heart is faint. (Lam 1:20-22)

Lamentations 2 is declarative. Yet, it too makes a request: “Look, Lord, and consider: Whom have you ever treated like this? Should women eat their offspring, the children they have cared for? Should priest and prophet be killed in the sanctuary of the Lord?” (Lam 2:20). This prayer is declaration, request, and frank.

A glimpse of hope is offered in Lam 3:

I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young. . . . For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone” (Lam 3:24-33)

. It further declares:

Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord. Let us lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven, and say: “We have sinned and rebelled and you have not forgiven. You have covered yourself with anger and pursued us; you have slain without pity. You have covered yourself with a cloud so that no prayer can get through. You have made us scum and refuse among the nations. (Lam 3:40-45)

. In the end, it requests divine retribution.

Continuing the declaration side of prayer, Lam 4 makes no request but is frank until the end.

Unlike Lam 4, Lam 5 makes a request for the Lord to remember his people in their oppressive plight, and declares in the end that the Lord reigns before asking, “Why do you always forget us? Why do you forsake us for long? (Lam 5:20). The prayer than requests for restoration and renewal (Lam 5:21). Again, here we see prayer as declaration, request, and inquiry.

Theology of Prayer: Scriptural Support (Part 15: Hosea–Malachi)

Out of the remaining books in the Hebrew Bible, namely Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, only three say anything about prayer directly–Jonah, Micah, and Habakkuk.

Jonah

In Jonah 1, the prophet Jonah is told to go to Nineveh and preach against its wickedness. Jonah refuses and flees, thereupon the great storm ensued, distressing the ship he was on with its shipmates. Through lots, Jonah is found to be the culprit for causing the storm. To stop the storm, he would have to be thrown overboard. The shipmates, upon their first encounter with the God of the Hebrews it seems, pray to the Lord to save their lives and then throw Jonah overboard, which caused the storm to quell, causing the shipmates to fear the Lord. Jonah then gets swallowed by a great fish where Jonah remained for three days and nights. In the next chapter, Jonah prays, and it sounds very psalm-like: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry” (Jonah 2:1). Jonah was making certain declarations, retelling of the events of God’s saving acts on his behalf. His prayer makes no request, but it is declarative.

Interestingly enough, in Jonah 3, due to the prophetic message Jonah delivered, the people of Nineveh fasted and called urgently on God. Here we see prayer and fasting to appease God. And it worked, for God turned his wrath away from Nineveh.

This forgiveness spurns Jonah to pray frankly: “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live” (Jonah 4:2-3).

The Lord replied with a simple question, asking, “Is it right for you to be angry?” (Jonah 4:4). The Lord uses a plant to create a metaphor for Jonah, in the end saying that He cares for the people of Nineveh just as much as Jonah cared for the little plant that was seemingly miniscule.

Micah

After delivering prophetic messages all throughout the book telling of Israel’s plight, the book ends in chapter 7 with a prayer. It asks the Lord to shepherd the people of the inheritance, showing them his wonders, so that the nations will see and be ashamed and turn to fear the Lord. It asks who is like God, for he pardons sin and does not stay angry forever, because he delights to show mercy. He will be faithful to the people. This prayer is declarative but still makes a request of God to take action and be faithful and forgiving.

Habakkuk

Habakkuk has several complaint prayers. First, Habakkuk complains to the Lord, “How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?” (Hab 1:2). This complaint is frank speech, asking God questions. He declares, “Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted” (Hab 1:4). Habakkuk mixes complaint–frank speech–with declaration in prayer.

After receiving a response from the Lord, Habakkuk makes another complaint with frank speech, saying, “Lord, are you not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, you will never die. You, Lord, have appointed them to execute judgment; . . . Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?” (Hab 1:12-13). Habakkuk is asking God questions with frank speech. But he is appealing to certain qualities and attributes of God in these prayers.

Then Habakkuk prays, “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy” (Hab 3:2). After opening with this declaration and request, Habakkuk speaks of various deeds the Lord had done before asking, “Were you angry with the rivers, Lord? Was your wrath against the streams? did you rage against the sea when you rode your horses and your chariots to victory?” (Hab 3:8). Continuing, he declares, “You came out to deliver your people, to save your anointed one. you crushed the leader of the land of wickedness, you stripped him from head to foot” (Hab 3:13). In the end, he declares, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (Hab 3:17-18). Again, he states climactically, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights” (Hab 3:19). Habakkuk mixes declaration and request in this prayer.

Psalm 119:105-112

All of these verses begin with the Hebrew letter, nun (נ).

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.

I have sworn and I have made it valid
To keep your righteous judgments.

I have been humbled exceedingly
Lord, let me live according to your word.

May you take pleasure in the voluntary offering of my mouth, Lord
And teach me your judgments.

My life is in my hand continually
But I do not forget your law.

The wicked have set a trap for me
But I do not wander from your precepts.

I have inherited your decrees forever
For they are the joy of my heart.

I have inclined my heart to do your statutes forever unto the end.

An August Burns Red Christmas

If you like metal and Christmas, you might be a rare breed. August Burns Red (ABR) is a metal band who seems to appreciate Christmas, having created one Christmas song in metal style each for the past four years, the most recent of which is God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, which released Nov 28, 2011, at midnight Eastern Standard (why iTunes says Nov 25, 2011, is beyond me, since it most certainly was not available anywhere for digital download until Nov 28). And boy do they deliver the goods!

Yes, it is that good.

Yes, it is that good.

Did I mention that God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen made it to the top of the iTunes metal charts?

I will provide the links to the four songs that ABR has published and discuss them briefly at this time. Keep your eyes peeled ’round Christmas time for this band’s masterful seasonal pieces!

Carol of the Bells

Released: Feb 24, 2009

Carol of the Bells was not released as a single, but it was part of an outtakes album following their sophomore album, Messengers. The album artwork for Lost Messengers has a burnt out candle and two hands, while the artwork for the former album has a burning candle and only one hand.

Carol of the Bells was not released as a single, but it was part of an outtakes album following their sophomore album, Messengers. The album artwork for Lost Messengers has a burnt out candle and two hands, while the artwork for the former album has a burning candle and only one hand.

The first song I was ever introduced to combining metal and Christmas was ABR’s Carol of the Bells. It is not very long at only 2:44, but it is the best version of this song I have ever heard, even better than Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The song naturally lends itself to rock, but the soul of metal really makes it come alive. Of course, being instrumental, there are no vocals, allowing the musicians to let the instruments do the talking, and they speak volumes here. Never have I been so motivated for Christmas as I have after listening to this song.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Released: Nov 20, 2009

The artwork for this single matches that of the album that came before it, Constellations, only the moon and the person trying to pull it to the earth have been removed, and instead of the moon, a bright and shining star appears above the little hill, suggesting, I believe, the star over Bethlehem.

The artwork for this single matches that of the album that came before it, Constellations, only the moon and the person trying to pull it to the earth have been removed, and instead of the moon, a bright and shining star appears above the little hill, suggesting, I believe, the star over Bethlehem.

This song is one of my all time favorite Christmas songs. How much more splendid is it with metal! It is long–nearly 5 minutes! It uses bright rhythm guitars in the verses along with delightful lead guitar picking; the drums groove well in the verses, matching the spirit of the guitars. And in the choruses, the metal really shines. The drummer is exceedingly good at blending metal with jazz overtones, giving a good fluid feel to the whole song. I absolutely love this song.

Little Drummer Boy

Released: Nov 19, 2010

This single artwork is completely unique as no album was previously produced in this interim year.

This single artwork is completely unique as no album was previously produced in this interim year.

This song is really cool. The jazz overtones are greatly increased by the drummer, and rightfully so, for this is the Little Drummer Boy. But it is masterfully blended with metal. This guy can do no wrong! It is a long song, at 4:23, but it seems to go by so quickly! It has an ethereal feel to it, but it picks up and gets down and dirty with that good ol’ grunge at just the right times. This song is well written and excellently executed.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Released: Nov 25, 2011

The artwork for this single closely follows the artwork for the recent album, Leveler, that came out earlier this year. The clouds have been changed from white to black and snow has been added to the ground. Very clever!

The artwork for this single closely follows the artwork for the recent album, Leveler, that came out earlier this year. The clouds have been changed from white to black and snow has been added to the ground. Very clever!

Wow. I can see why this song is currently number one on the metal charts! It has the driving force found in Thrill Seeker and Messengers, but it has the stylistic breakdown as found in Leveler. It is a wonderful blend! It is short at 2:48, but so worth it! It is fast paced until the breakdown. The drums have that awesome jazz-infused metal style. This song really is very good.

I apologize for the dominant comments about the drummer. I myself am a drummer in awe of the talented drumming of metal, especially that of ABR, and it is the central standard from which I judge all music, being that I relate to it the most.

Crazy, Stupid, Love

iTunes – Movies – Crazy, Stupid, Love.

My wife and I watched this movie, starring Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, and more, last night. It was really funny, unlike, say, Date Night, which had its moments but wasn’t nearly as funny as this latest movie. But this movie isn’t nearly commendable for its humor so much as it is for its plot. I’m usually good at reading where the story is going to go, and I can typically tell you how it will end very early on. Example, never having seen or heard anything about The Village, in the first five minutes I told my wife that the village is a sham in a contemporary setting and the monsters are not real. Needless to say, she was mad at me. Not so with Crazy, Stupid, Love. I didn’t see it coming (it goes without saying, spoiler alert herein).

The relationship between Cal (Carell) and Jacob (Gosling) was very funny, but the plot made it seem completely arbitrary and independent to the short scene of Hannah (Stone) and Jacob. Imagine my surprise, and laughter, when it turns out that Hannah is Cal’s daughter–and it was Hannah who set Jacob straight, which was a complete reversal from Jacob setting Cal straight, ultimately leading to Cal becoming the alpha over Jacob. Clever!

I was also broadsided by the morally redeeming quality of the movie. Interestingly enough, probably 3/4 of the way through, I looked over at my wife and said, “This movie has a lot of work to do if it is to provide any morally redeeming quality.” I said this at about the time the 17 year old babysitter takes naughty pictures of herself to give to the man she loves, Cal, the father for which she babysits, in order to lead him to believe that she is not just a girl but a woman. I wasn’t sure how the movie would play this plot out. Would it try to suggest that 17 year old girls are right to do so? Would it try to say that it is okay to take revealing pictures of oneself and pass it on? Well, it failed in the latter but excelled in the former. It used the pictures to bring the climax to a hilarious close, a harsh and brutal encounter of the babysitter’s dad racing over to Cal’s house to beat him up, believing that Cal was in relationship with his daughter. This event simultaneously happens when Cal finds out that Jacob is dating his daughter, Hannah, to which Cal refuses to believe and rejects Jacob as a suitable boyfriend. The whole movie revolves around Cal’s divorce from his wife, who is in relationship with a coworker (played by Kevin Bacon). This coworker shows up to the battlefield of a scene, and Jacob, knowing what pain this man has caused Cal, walks up to this man and punches him in the face. Cal then runs up to Jacob and puts him in a headlock, still in disbelief that this womanizer is dating his daughter. And the babysitter’s dad is still trying to beat up Cal. The scene culminates in the four men sitting curbside in front of two policemen who were called in for a domestic disturbance. Hilarious I tell you, hilarious! So, the movie uses the naughty pictures not to send a message at first but to drive the climax of the story to a hilarious close. In the end, however, the babysitter gives the pictures, one can assume, to the 13 year old boy she had been babysitting, the very boy who had declared his love for her at the beginning of the movie. She seemingly forsakes her love for Cal and takes on adoration for the boy, Robbie, and, upon his graduation from middle school, as a gift, she gives him the pictures, suggesting it is okay to give naughty pictures to someone you love. Well, we can’t say with certainty that she gave the pictures to the boy, but it sure seemed implied. To that extent the movie fails. Apart from that, the movie is excellent, and I highly recommend it, because it speaks to the problems of divorce and sends a strong and laudable message–fight for your soulmate!

If you like romantic comedies, this one is really good. It will make you laugh. It isn’t stupid humor like Will Ferrel in Step Brothers. It is smart, witty humor, and it is backed by a good message.

Chelsea 0-2 Liverpool

Chelsea vs Liverpool Live Streaming and TV Listings, Live Scores, News, Videos :: November 29, 2011 :: England Carling Cup :: Live Soccer TV.

With a 2-nil loss to Liverpool, Chelsea exit the Carling Cup.

I have nothing else to say.

Goals:

  • Anelka: 1
  • Bosingwa: 1
  • David Luiz: 1
  • Drogba: 2
  • Ivanovich: 1
  • Kalou: 2
  • Lampard: 7
  • Malouda: 1
  • Mata: 4
  • Meireles: 1
  • Sturridge: 7
  • Ramires: 4
  • Terry: 4
  • Torres: 4
  • Goals for: 39
  • Goals against: 24

Inter Milan 1-0 Siena

inter.it – Siena 0-1 Inter, Castaignos does the job.

Inter won today against Siena. The game was scoreless until the extra time when Castaignos found the back of the net after receiving the ball from Motta.

Goals:

  • Alvarez: 1
  • Cambiasso: 2
  • Castaignos: 1
  • Coutinho: 1
  • Forlan: 1
  • Lucio: 2
  • Maicon: 1
  • Milito: 4
  • Motta: 2
  • Pazzini: 3
  • Samuel: 1
  • Sneijder: 2
  • Zarate: 1
  • Goals for: 22
  • Goals Against: 24

Real Madrid 4-1 Atletico Madrid

ESCUDO_EXENTO_BAJA_normal.jpgReal Madrid (@realmadrid)
11/26/11 12:48 PM
FT: @realmadrid 4-1 Atletico Madrid (24′, 82′ @Cristiano, 49′ Di Maria, 65′ @G_Higuain | 15′ Adrian). #realmadrid #atleticodemadrid

Los Blancos won the Madrid derby today 4-1. While Atletico scored first, they had a couple of red cards that ultimately brought them down to 9 men against a full Real Madrid 11. Ronaldo scored the first and fourth goals off of penalty kicks. Di Maria scored the second goal. Higuain, who subbed on for Di Maria, scored the third goal.

Goals:

  • Alonso: 2
  • Benzema: 12
  • Callejon: 3
  • Di Maria: 3
  • Higuain: 13
  • Kaká: 4
  • Khedira: 1
  • Marcelo: 1
  • Özil: 3
  • Pepe: 1
  • Ramos: 2
  • Ronaldo: 20
  • Varane: 1
  • Goals for: 66
  • Goals against: 17

Chelsea 3-0 vs Wolverhampton

Match Report

The first half saw three goals from the Blues while the second half was scoreless. Terry scored at the 6th minute; Sturridge the 28th; and Mata the 44th. Drogba started, but Torres subbed on for him at the 76th minute. Meireles started, but Lampard subbed on for him at the 69th minute. Ivanovich started, but Bosingwa subbed on for him in the 76th minute. I’m not sure why Lampard didn’t start. Maybe to rest him? He’s our leading scorer, so it makes no sense leaving him on the bench except to rest him. Again, Torres should start and Drogba should sub on. Ivanovich starting in place of Bosingwa is the right choice in my opinion. I’m glad we got the win, but surprised that we couldn’t find the back of the net in the second half. We clearly still have work to do.

Sturridge and Lampard are now tied as leading scorers for the club in all competitions. These two should be the main focus of our offense.

Goals:

  • Anelka: 1
  • Bosingwa: 1
  • David Luiz: 1
  • Drogba: 2
  • Ivanovich: 1
  • Kalou: 2
  • Lampard: 7
  • Malouda: 1
  • Mata: 4
  • Meireles: 1
  • Sturridge: 7
  • Ramires: 4
  • Terry: 4
  • Torres: 4
  • Goals for: 39
  • Goals against: 22

Theology of Prayer: Scriptural Support (Part 14: Ezekiel, Daniel)

Daniel 6 offers a story of prayer. In trying to capture Daniel, the King’s advisors convince the king to make prayer to anyone other than the king an illegal activity. The king makes the decree, but Daniel prays three times a day before opened windows and does not heed the decree. The king’s advisors tell the king of Daniel’s disobedience, which distressed the king. He had no choice but to put Daniel into the lions’ den, where he spent the night. In the morning, the king ordered the den to be opened, and he found Daniel very much alive. The kings counselors were then ordered into the den, where the lions devoured them immediately. The king then issued a decree for the kingdom to revere God. Daniel prospered under his reign. Here we see a relationship between prayer and prosperity, even prayer that is proffered illegally.

Daniel 9 contains a lengthy prayer from Daniel. He states that he understood from Scripture–from Jeremiah–that the desolation of Jerusalem would last 70 years. He prayed to the Lord, petitioning and fasting in mourning, confessing that God is great and awesome, and he keeps his covenant of love with those who love and obey him. He acknowledges his peoples’ wickedness; he declares that they had sinned against Him. Then he asked for their deliverance on the basis of His great mercy. Here we see a mixture of elements: prayer as declaration, confession, petition, and request.