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A day of prayer

Twenty-two days from today (as I’m writing this), we’ll celebrate Patriot’s Day on Sept. 11. Every community will do it in their own way. In our county, we’ll begin with a prayer breakfast buffet for our first responders from 6 a.m. until 9 a.m. We’ll ask people to sign up and pray for one hour beginning at 6 a.m. and continuing through the rest of the day. The National Day of Prayer has asked us all to focus on prayers for “the security and protection of America.”

It all started in 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden went to Afghanistan to help organize the Mujahideen. Guided by Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama grew more and more radical and in 1996 issued his first “fatwa” demanding that American soldiers leave Saudi Arabia.

Maybe you’ve noticed, as he became more radical, his anger became more diffuse and now they are fighting with the whole world and even among themselves. That’s one of the dangers in anger. It loses its focus and ends up spilling over to everyone in reach. That requires those of us in anger’s path to be eternally vigilant, so we’ll honor our watchmen and our first responders. The watchmen will warn us of any imminent danger and our first responders will deal with any attack if it comes. It’s Ezekiel and Judah and Babylon all over again.

“God’s message came to me: ‘Son of man, speak to your people. Tell them, ‘If I bring war on this land and the people take one of their citizens and make him their watchman, and if the watchman sees war coming and blows the trumpet, warning the people, then if anyone hears the sound of the trumpet and ignores it and war comes and takes him off, it’s his own fault. He heard the alarm, he ignored it — it’s his own fault. If he had listened, he would have saved his life (Ezekiel 33).”

There is a fascinating dynamic related to anger. It begins when something unfair or unjust or bad happens and we get angry, as we should. I think it’s a sin not to get angry when those things happen. Sometimes anger is an appropriate response. But if that anger goes unchecked and unresolved, it can grow into sin and violence against others. It can deteriorate into something terrible and even demonic. So we watch and prepare for what we hope won’t happen and we pray.

We pray for ourselves, that we won’t allow unchecked nor unresolved anger to take control of our lives, and we pray for “security and protection” from those who have allowed it to become “terrible and demonic.”