A Prayer for the Nation of Scotland – On the day that over 1500 years of Christian teaching and practice on marriage was overturned – 16th December 2014

A Prayer for the Nation of Scotland
On the day that over 1500 years of Christian teaching and practice on marriage was overturned – 16th December 2014

Our Father in Heaven,
The God of all grace and comfort,
The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Our Creator, Sustainer and Provider.
You are the God of Truth, Holiness and Love.
You have blessed this small land of Scotland with many visitations of your Spirit.
You made us the land of the people of the book.
You have used us to help bring your kingdom throughout the world.
And yet today we confess that we have turned our backs on you.

We despise your Word
Our leaders, media and educators mock your laws.
We have turned the grace of our Lord Jesus into a licence for sin.
Since we have not thought it worthwhile to retain our knowledge of you,
You have given us over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done
We have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.
We not only continue to do what is wrong but we approve of those who do wrong.
Today O Lord we have turned our back on your gift of holy marriage
We think we know better than you.
We rejoice in our stupidity
Thinking they are wise, our leaders have become fools,
Exchanging the glory of God for images in their own making.
We have sown the wind. We will reap the whirlwind.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

Have mercy upon your church.
When we should have spoken we have been silent.
When we did speak we offered our own words, not yours.
When we have spoken your words we have not demonstrated them in our actions.
Our hearts are cold, our lips sealed, our minds dulled.
We are disunited, confused, self-seeking.
Forgive our sins, hypocrisy and indifference.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

We plead with you O Lord, that you would revive, renew and restore your church
That we would be conscious of your presence, thankful for your goodness and filled with your Holy Spirit.
May the love of your Son fill our hearts, renew our minds and motivate our lives.
Grant us vision, boldness and love.

O Lord we pray for this nation of Scotland.
We cannot bear the thought that our nation would perish.
We know that righteousness exalts a nation and sin is a reproach to any people.
Lord grant us righteousness,
that the people of Scotland may be blessed,
that we may be as great a blessing to the peoples of your world in the future as we have been in the past.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

May your kingdom come and your will be done.
O Lord, renew and use Scotland for your glory,
Give us Scotland or we die.

In the Name, and for the sake of, our Lord Jesus Christ
King of kings and Lord of lords.

Amen

25 thoughts on “A Prayer for the Nation of Scotland – On the day that over 1500 years of Christian teaching and practice on marriage was overturned – 16th December 2014

    1. I find it strange that large parts of the evangelical church appears to allow the endless injustices perpetrated around the world, some of which at least, such as homophobia in Uganda or injustices in Palestine not to mention torture in the US, are partly stirred up by evangelicals, to pass without comment. Yet the day Scotland allows same sex marriage becomes uniquely an occasion for brow beating in sackcloth and ashes.
      I should add I am NOT of the view religion lies at the root of all society’s ills, far from it. But please forgive me but I can’t help feeling there may be a lack of proportion in the words of your prayer, or at least in your view of the occasion that gives rise to it. I also worry about the almost fanatical certainty it implies in God’s mind despite differences amongst professing Christians on the issue.
      Alex

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      1. Alex, When you see every day the tragic effects of broken marriages and the ongoing consequences then of course any further attack on marriage is a cuase to lament. THe words of the prayer do not refer specifically to SSM and include all the injustices you mention.

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  1. I have given much prayerful thought to my reply to this.

    I do not want to invalidate the pain of those who for a range of reasons oppose same sex marriage (nor do I neglect the pain of those who have long suffered at their mistreatment).

    However, I think this publicly written prayer, designed to be read by a wide, diverse (including secular and media) audience, shows clearly how Christians can read the same Holy Scriptures and come to very different conclusions.

    Here is what Jesus said about prayer:

    “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6:5-8.

    I cannot see how this public prayer of condemnation is compatible with Jesus’ very own teaching. Having said this, I agree that we all need to regularly pray to God for our attitudes and apologise for times of turning away from him, but the above verses on prayer show we do not read the Bible in the same way, clearly, nor do I pray for teachings that are 1500 years old if I believe God is saying something very different.

    So, I can only give a partial amen and try to turn this prayer into one of personal repentance for my own sins, in private.

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    1. Once again MM you manage to (in love I am sure) turn around something that was meant for good and use it to attack. Written prayers are not wrong nor forbidden by the verses you misquote.

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  2. So beautifully written…and timely having just listened to Alistair Begg, Truth For Life, Parts 1 and 2 of Sermon #1707, Good News For Lawbreakers… I thank my God for you and your witness.

    Elizabeth Frisco

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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  3. Do you have any evidence for prayer not working mgordon42 and are you misrepresenting prayer?

    I agree that comments in the written word with social media can come across as judgmental and melodramatic Douglas from any source and it be important that militants and extremists of whatever persuasion be challenged in the interest of what is beneficial for all.

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    1. There is plenty of evidence – Cochrane review for example – the real question is do you have the will to go find it? You probably wont because it would conflict with your beliefs.

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      1. You have the opinion that I probably wouldn’t have the will to find evidence you claim exists for prayer not working. This is about establishing the facts. The burden of proof is on the on one making a claim and unsupported assertions make for weak arguments. It is your claim that prayer does not work.

        With respect Sir, It’s not my responsibility to support your claim, but for you to argue it convincingly. Saying that “numerous studies have shown its nonsense” and pointing to the “Chochrane Review” and talking of “sides” does not objectively and indefatigably establish fact.

        Therefore it remains debatable as to whether prayer works or not and making a statement that it does not may be a misrepresentation unless that statement is proven to be true.

        I do accept however Sir that this is your opinion and I respect your freedom to have that and to express it. I trust you will know that your opinion will not be shared by everyone and that there will be some claim it is their empirical reality is that prayer has worked and/or had an effect.

        To that end, my thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who have died tragically in George Square at this sad time.

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      2. You assume the Cochrane review would conflict with my beliefs and it is your opinion that I probably wouldn’t be willing to find it and that this is the real question. Musing Monk’s comment about it as a Christian and a Scientist is evidence that someone of Christian belief is both willing to find the review and engage rationally with it.

        I would agree with MM for similar reasons (though he has put it better than I could) that we cannot prove that prayer works, that if we could scientifically prove or disprove God, we would have done it by now and by that same token we cannot prove prayer doesn’t work.

        To say that prayer doesn’t work is an argument from incredulity and logically fallacious. It relies on a lack of imagination of the reader.

        It goes like this:
        Minor premise: One can’t imagine (or has not imagined) how prayer working could be so.
        Major premise (unstated): If prayer works, then one could imagine (or would have imagined) how prayer working could be so.
        Conclusion: Prayer does not work.

        Therefore it is a fallacy to declare that prayer doesn’t work.

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    2. Adam – no the onus is upon the person making the incredible claim. All the evidence is for the notion that prayer does not work. The onus is upon people like you to present the evidence and if you dont wish to do so then stop making the claims.

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      1. And yet Mark – you don’t know all the evidence – and there is plenty that it does work. I for example have experienced several answers to prayer – but you of course will just automatically discount anything because your primary belief is that there can be no answer to prayer because there is no God to answer….and the incredible claim you make is that you know this!

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  4. If David permits me to join the conversation between Adam and mgordon42, I would like to acknowledge, as a Christian (and scientist) who believes in the importance of prayer, that the Cochrane reviews do not show a reliable significant difference in groups prayed for and not prayed for.

    A couple of points to be made here. Firstly, we who are Christians need to be careful when citing “evidence”. I am not referring to Adam here, but others I have encountered. When a Christian experiences answer to prayer (as I have), we need to be careful how we respond. It is appropriate and fitting to give thanks back to God. It is important to use our experiences to sensitively encourage other Christians (taking care not to assure them they can get anything they pray for!). What it should never be used for is to try and convince an atheist that God exists… as it is not convincing proof. It would be like me going to work with a packed lunch and finding a treat in it and trying to use that treat to convince others who believed I was single (and deluded about the existence of a wife) that I had a wife and that she loved me! The reason is that there are always different hypotheses and possible explanations. If we could scientifically prove or disprove God, we would have done it by now. Both believers and non-believers make their choice on the best fit of their own evidence, experiences and world views.

    However, my second point is that as a scientist, I have an issue with how many secular scientists view prayer studies. The biggest problem I have is that they often use prayer as a blanket term without paying too much attention to the groups praying. Some studies I’ve looked at had different faith groups vs no prayer. That’s a bit like saying conversation is good for mental health and so having an experimental group that talks to a group of family members. There are so many additional variables that it is almost impossible to isolate the variables.

    As Christians we teach (or should teach!) other Christians that it is important to pray about all kind of things. We should do this for several reasons. One is that it is because God cares for us and loves us. Another is that it is good for us to remember to put our trust in God, not mankind. We also teach that God will not always give us what we want. If that were true, the world would be full of immortal thousand year old people with perfect bodies (not bodices as my spell checker tried to insert!) who never got ill. No, we teach that sometimes God says yes, other times no (a greater good might emerge in another way), sometimes God says “not yet”. A Cochrane review, even of sound studies, would therefore not be expected to show Christians that prayer works, as how on earth could we show a significant effect of yes, no or not yet?

    A secularist would rightly point out that we therefore have a circular argument and cannot prove prayer works. I would agree that we cannot, while still believing it is important that we do it – and this is because Jesus did it and taught his disciples to do likewise. I also get great personal benefit from my times of prayer.

    I hope this reflection is helpful to some…

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  5. Your first paragraph proves my point – Prayer does not work. The fact that yo cannot prove that it works – but “still believing it is important that we do it” is of no importance and rather silly.

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  6. Musing Monk I see that as a scientist and presumably some kind of acolyte of the wee flea that you misunderstand secularism. As an atheist have an interest in demonstrating that prayer does not work. As a secularist I have no interest.

    E.g. The atheist might say that there should be no prayers at council meetings because prayer has no efficacy. A secularist would say there should be none because it is unfair to those of different faiths or none. To confuse or conflate the two is another failing of the religious and in David Robertson`s case a deliberate one.

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  7. Yes indeed MM – I do find your reflection helpful. May I add that I’m in agreement with what you say about circular augments, my hope is that in dialogue where there is no provable fact either way that respect can be shown where there are differences of views and extremism challenged appropriately. It seems to me that we could all benefit from useful conversation if that were to happen.

    On the point that you state about prayer, I would share my experiences, my empirical reality of what has happened at such times. People can then be free to decide for themselves what to believe, perhaps not dis-similar to what you describe as a “best fit of their own evidence, experiences and world views”?

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    1. As you well know, the circular arguments all come from the theist. The extremism comes from various religious factions around the world. How many modern day atheists commit terrorist atrocities in the name of atheism?

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      1. Mark – are you not forgetting that atheists do nothing either good or bad in the name of atheism?! Its a completely useless philosophy! Of course there have been, and continue to be, plenty atheists who do things precisely because of what they do and do not believe. Stalin for example did not believe that he would face judgement after death and so felt perfectly free to commit as many atrocities in this life as he wanted.

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  8. Thanks mgordon42 and Adam. Our moderator is about to fly overseas so not sure this will get posted soon, but am keen to reply.

    I think David and I would both have had a chuckle at the thought of me being an acolyte of his! We wouldn’t need a cochrane review of this blog to see we are poles apart on many issues. To say I am an acolyte of his would be akin to saying Vince Cable is an acolyte of George Osborne.

    Thanks though for your clarification of atheist vs secularist. In my use of the word secular, I was meaning non-religious. I particularly found the point about a secularist not being keen to disprove prayer helpful. I think what might partly lead to this confusion is that in many secular groups the loudest voices are often atheist ones.

    As for the prayer point, I will expand slightly. Most of us do most things on a regular basis regardless of whether or not cochrane reviews have been carried out. We often apply logical principal. In the autumn and winter months, I take a vitamin D supplement, for example. I don’t do this because someone presented me with a cochrane review. I do it because it makes logical sense to me and it makes me feel better (subjectively). When stressed, I will problem solve or talk to a friend or pray. Each of these things helps me. If a cochrane review did not find any significant effect in the lives of a randomised control study, should I stop problem solving, talking to a friend or praying? So I dispute that it is “rather silly” if it is personally helpful.

    I am not sure if you appreciated my points about variables (my main point really). I am not convinced the settings of the studies were suitably controlled (or could be). Prayer is more than just trying to make things happen that we want. This is a mistake many believers of all faiths also make. Prayer is about reflection on things of importance (which has benefits in its own right), considering a situation from God’s perspective, conversing and communicating with someone we love and more. Your statement that prayer does not work is like someone saying “talking to a loved one does not work”. Without a proper context it is meaningless. How are we defining success? What does ” work” actually mean?

    I understand that you probably believe that Christians pray for things and hope that by some kind of mysterious intervention by a superior power that their desires will come true. I would agree that this kind of prayer will not be scientifically verified as there are just too many variables at play. However, it is not how I pray and I don’t think divine intervention is the primary purpose of prayer. There are thousands of anecdotal experiences of “miraculous” intervention, but no scientifically controlled studies that I am aware of. However, the absence of something measurable in certain conditions does not prove the non-existence of something.

    Your helpful comment about differentiating between secular and atheist and the frequent misunderstanding of different faiths (and the diversity of opinion within them, as demonstrated by your acolyte assumption) shows how far we have to travel in understanding other human beings that we journey with in our short lives on this earth.

    I hope this post brings us closer on this journey. I am certainly not trying to argue you into belief (this does not work in either direction) but hope we can move closer towards mutual understanding.

    God bless (whether you believe in him or not!) 😉

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    1. The effects of vitamin D supplementation on health are uncertain. A 2013 review did not find any effect from supplementation on the rates of disease, other than a tentative decrease in mortality in the elderly. Low vitamin D levels may result from disease rather than cause disease

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