By Fr John Theodore CSSp
We have a problem of murders in our country. People are blaming the police and the government. Does this make sense? Where does murder come from? Murder comes from a decision from someone’s heart.
Can the Commissioner of Police do something about this? Can the Prime Minister do something about this? No-one can do anything about this.
Murder is a heart problem. Someone needs a change of heart.
When we speak of a change of heart, this is the language of spirituality, the language of religion. This is where Christians are crucial. Christians know that prayer changes people’s hearts.
In the history of our faith we have stories of many people whose hearts have been changed. So, our Christian prayer is a main answer to crime.
In Ezekiel 22, God describes a nation falling apart. What was God’s solution? God said “I am looking for someone to stand in the gap. I am looking for someone to pray for the nation.” So, the nation is falling apart, and God’s solution is our prayer. Today if our nation is falling apart through crime, what is God’s solution?
Christian prayer changes hearts. A Trinidadian young woman living in Detroit, USA belongs to a prayer group. She said in the prayer group there were two old ladies. One night after a prayer meeting, they were mugged by a young man who snatched their two purses.
The old women said, “This young man has stolen our money, but we know God wants to save him.” They decided to pray the rosary for the young man. They prayed for ten days.
On the tenth day the telephone rang in one of their homes. It was the police. The officer said “Ma’am, I have your number because I have your purse. A young man came to the station with your two purses. He said he mugged you a few days ago. He says he wants to change his life and come out of crime.” The prayer of the two old ladies changed his heart.
There is a city in Brazil where the prisoners took over the prison. They burnt half of the prison and took 15 guards as hostages. They sent a message to the governor, “Mr Governor, we are in no hurry. We are going to kill them one by one.” The governor sent his army to the prison. The army could do nothing. The prisoner would not let them in.
The governor remembered that there was a group of Christians who came together to pray in the city. He contacted them and gave them this message, “Our weapon is no use in this battle. We need your weapon.” The Christian group prayed together for one day. The next day the prisoners surrendered. Christian prayer changes hearts.
Los Angeles Olympics
In 1984 the Olympics was in Los Angeles, USA. Some Christians living in LA said, “We are going to get hundreds of visitors here and the place is a mess with crime.” These Christians decided to come together every day for two weeks of the Olympics to pray for the city.
After the Olympics a man came to their leader. He said to him, “I understand that you Christians prayed for the city during the Olympics”. The leader said “Yes, we prayed every day.”
The gentleman said to him, “You do not know me. I am the manager of the largest morgue in LA and because of the crime, every day I get 50 bodies for murder. For those two weeks when you prayed, I did not get one body for murder.” Christian prayer changing the hearts of murderers.
The city of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, USA, was a place of crime. Some Christians said “Our children have to live in this city; our grandchildren have to live in this city. The place has too much crime.”
They decided to get together to pray for Cedar Rapids. They prayed for 18 months. After the 18 months the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) made the announcement, “Of all the cities in America with this population Cedar Rapids is the safest one for visitors.” Christian prayer changing hearts.
I want to make a few suggestions. I suggest that on our jobs at lunchtime we get together to pray for our nation. I suggest that in our neighbourhoods, we get together in each other’s homes to pray for our nation. I suggest that families decide to find a time to pray for the nation. I suggest that prayer groups target crime as one of their main issues for united prayer. In the scriptures we saw that when the nation was falling apart God’s solution was our prayer.