Friday, October 13, 2006

Week 3 Prayer Calendar

Past the half way mark in the Church and Nation Committee's prayer calendar, week 3 turns to ethical issues.

Oct 15th - Pray that the Hippocratic Oath in medicine (first of all, do no harm) would continue to be accepted as the standard amongst health professionals. Pray that the current law banning euthanasia as a crime of murder would continue in force (Deut 30:20, Ex 20:13)

16th - Pray about the destructive impact of certain aspects of mass-media communication on our culture. Pray for families and government in balancing the need for censorship with the entitlement to freedom. Pray for discernment amongst Christians as the access the pervasive new media and internet throughout society. Pray for the church in ministering to those addicted and exploited as a result. (Eph 5:3, Ps 119:37)

17th - Pray for continued success in applying the positive results of adult stem-cell research. Pray that the 'farming' of 'manufactured' human embryos for experimental purposes would end and that human cloning research would continue to be resisted (Ps 139:13-18, also as I posted a few weeks ago).

18th - Pray that the number of abortions performed in Australia would fall as alternative options are offered in counselling, and as those faced with making such decisons receiver better education and more personal/practical support. Pray that the church would be active in providing this support (Ps 127:1-5).

19th - Pray that the distinctive place of marriage as "the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life" and the two-parent family, with its Chrstian distinctives, would be respected and promoted as the desired norm in our society (Gen 2:24, Deuth 6:4-9, Eph 6:1-4, Col 3:18-21).

20th - Pray for Christian families, including your own, in this time of unprecedented strain on the family unit - both from fractured relationships and the demands of work. Pray for stable Christ-honouring marriages and family roles within the church, so that we may be a witness to the world (Eph 5:21-33, 1 Tim 3:4-5).

21st - Pray that all Christians would take seriously the command of God to honour and observe the Lord's Day (Ex 20:8-11, Acts 20:7, 1 Cor 16:1-2, Rev 1:10. There was an edition of AP looking at this topic last year. I've borrowed it at the moment, but I'll bring it back on Sunday if anyone else wants to read it.)

Looks like there's some good discussion starters here as well (hint, hint!) now that we're moving away from what you might call the theological points, towards more practical points.

Next week the prayer calendar concludes with issues of social interaction (woohoo, more discussion starters!)


At 8:40 am, Blogger JoBloggs said...

I'm disturbed (though entirely unsurprised) that this list of 'ethical' questions seems to have such a narrow focus. What about ethical issues surrounding industrial relations, asylum seekers, debt relief, war, the rights of the disabled, mentally ill and sexually abused? Not to mention reconciliation, though I note that got a mention last week. These are all ethical issues, even if evangelicals have increasingly ignored them in favour of 'family values' and concerns surrounding scientific and medical developments (which I don't deny are important).

At 7:08 am, Blogger Dave said...

Good point Jo; I know at least some of the other ethical issues you've mentioned are coming up next week under the heading "issues of social interaction".

I think one of the reasons evangelicals tend to focus on family values and science/medicine is that it's relatively clear-cut. Eg, the Bible is clear that murder is wrong, therefore its clear that Christians need to stand up against abortion and euthanasia.

Other issues, although they have the same biblical mandate, are perceived as being more politically charged and somewhat harder to implement in practice. Eg, industrial relations; again the Bible is clear on the sort of relationship that should exist between employee and employer, but how does that play out in practice? I think you could easily have two committed, Bible-believing Christian bosses trying to do the best they can before God, and find one in favour of the new IR laws and one opposed. So when the purpose of all these prayer points is to bring the PCA to its knees together before God, I can understand why there might be a bias toward "easier" issues.

Also (and this is a blight on the protestant denominations) I think we tend to see social justice as being something that the Catholics look after. Not that it started out like that in the reformation but it seems to be like that now. In fact I think a quick survey of the last few hundred years would show that times of spiritual revival were accompanied by active concern for the welfare of poor, widows & orphans, the underprivileged and the abused.

At 1:42 pm, Blogger JoBloggs said...

Thanks, Dave - that's a thoughtful response, and I'm glad to hear some of these issues make it in later on. But I have my doubts about your distinction between 'clear-cut' and 'not-so-clear-cut' ethical issues. Certainly, Christians agree that murder is wrong - and all governments have laws against murder that Christians can support. But it is precisely over the question of whether abortion and euthanasia (neither of which get much of a mention in Scripture) AND war involve murder that disagreement exists. Among ethicists generally, but also among Christians (currently and historically). You only have to look at the fact that much of the early church had real problems with the idea of a Christian soldier, to see that our ideas about how the principle of 'thou shalt not kill' have shifted.
Let me go further and suggest that even on 'clear-cut' ethical issues, this list is highly selective. To return to the issue of murder: women are much more likely to be murdered by their partner (married or de facto) than anyone else. This is an enormous social issue, which is surely 'clear-cut' in its violation of both 'family values' and the command not to murder. When was the last time you heard a sermon that dealt specifically and in detail with the topic of domestic violence (ideally by someone who had read up on the topic)? When was the last time an Australian church made a public statement about domestic violence or supported initiatives to educate and assist those caught in violent situations?
I am being deliberately provocative here, but I do think we need to think harder about these questions. There are so many people suffering in our society who find the church silent when it comes to the injustice they experience, while vocal on issues that seem far less relevant to their lives.

At 7:24 am, Blogger Dave said...

D'oh! Even when I think I've picked a nice safe example, it comes back to bite me...

Those are good questions, and in some ways just the tip of the iceberg.

I think though that I'll go back to my previous comment and one of the comments on the original call to prayer.

The point of it all is to bring the church together in a focussed month of repentant prayer before God. The calendar is a guide for that, but not a limit. So for those who don't pray regularly or haven't been a Christian for very long, it might be a big achievement just to pray through the points listed. But for more mature Christians and for people with a particular interest in certain topics, it's more of a launch pad. Yes, I'll start by praying about family values, then I'll pray about the impact of domestic violence on the family etc.

Prayer points for the fourth and final week coming later today!


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