Monday, 10 December 2012

Martin Luther on Prayer

Martin Luther on Prayer:

But why should we make our prayers known to God? Doesn't he already know them, even before we begin to pray? Doesn't he himself come to us first, inspiring us to pray? Answer: St. Paul says this to teach us what a righteous prayer should be. Namely, that it should not be thrust into the wind, prayed onto some doubtful excursion, as those who do not consider whether God hears it or not, always remaining uncertain--in fact they think they will not be heard. That, however, is neither to pray nor to ask, but instead is to test and mock God. For, if someone asked me for a pfennig, but did not believe or think that I would actually give him one, then I would not listen. I would think he is mocking me, and is not being serious. Now then, how much more will God not listen to such howling! A prayer should be made known to God, that is, we should not doubt that God hears us and that it comes to his attention, we should be assured that they reach him. If we do not believe that God hears it or that it comes to his attention, then certainly it does not. As we believe, so it happens.

Church Postil (1522), Fourth Sunday in Advent 37

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Letter from Egypt

Just had an email from a friend in Egypt. Egypt always seems to steer where the Arab world goes, so what happens these is important for the world - some stinging criticism of the west here too...

Dear friends,

Egypt needs your help to complete the revolution it began last year. It was started by truly pro-democratic forces that were tired of oppression and corruption; the result was the downfall of Mubarak.

Unfortunately the Islamists jumped on the bandwagon when they saw the uprising beginning to succeed. In the confusion they broke open many jails to release their and Hamas' members. Because of their intimidating use of religion and the manipulative economic tactics they use to buy votes, they "won" the presidency by the slimmest of margins (just over 50%). Unfortunately it seems almost certain that Egypt's top military leaders at that time cut a deal with the Islamists and handed them the presidency in return for not being held accountable for their own corruption. Subsequent events have confirmed this in the minds of millions of Egyptians: top military leaders were given honorable discharge.

The first few months of Islamist rule have been dismal. The freedom of the press has been under attack. The harassment of women and Christians is alarming. The economy and infrastructure continue to deteriorate. Weapons and other resources have been passed to Hamas in Gaza. Radical groups are threatening the stability of the Sinai Peninsula.

With their cloak of sham democracy, Islamists are now trying to force a very flawed constitution on the country. Political leaders, judges, lawyers, constitutional experts and journalists have rejected the constitution as well as the way it is being proposed to voters. Several assistants to the president have resigned in the last few days in protest at his actions. Millions of people have poured into the streets all over the country since his dictatorial announcement of November 22. Unfortunately, peaceful demonstrators have been attacked in the last few hours with deaths and injuries being reported. Among those demonstrating are students, friends and other loved ones. As a sign of the nations's outrage, Muslim Brotherhood offices are being attacked in several cities. But they retain their power through intimidation and heavy funding (and international backing?).

We need your help. Firstly we need your prayers. We also plead with you to communicate this message to your church, other organization, influential friends, press and/or government leaders: Are we supporting freedom in Egypt? Do we want an Islamist Mideast or a truly democratic one? What is happening in Egypt is remarkable. Millions of Muslims are rejecting those who are using their religion as a tool for political gain. Christians are standing next to these moderate Muslims and together they are making a difference. But why is so much of Western media strangely silent or ambiguous in the message that it is sending?

Specifically we want the president to rescind his unconstitutional declaration of November 22 and gain the consensus of major political parties on the proposed constitution before it is submitted to a referendum. We also demand that the government protect peaceful demonstrators and bring the attackers of the last few hours to justice.

If Western countries don't stand against religious bigotry and defend freedom now, they will have to answer before history and before the people of the Mideast who are tired of hearing pro-democractic rhetoric from the West and yet see contradictory behavior.

Please let me know if you need more information or have questions. Once more we are asking for your prayers and the use of your influence however small it may be. The way Egypt goes will influence the entire Arab world.

You can use this email in any way you deem to be wise and effective. If you are concerned by the ramifications it could have on us, please consult me ahead of time.

Rescue the Arab Spring from turning into a cold and dead winter.

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