On the Bailout: It's okay to pray for wisdom

On the Bailout: It's okay to pray for wisdom September 22, 2008

On the bailout which Washington is putting together to keep our economy from unthinkable ruin, I would venture to suggest that prayer is not just okay, it is imperative – particularly given the recent and clear revelation that both houses of congress are mostly populated with sad clowns incapable of putting partisanship aside – that those of us who pray consider turning to prayer (and perhaps even fasting) that our current governmental leadership be giving the thing that Solomon had and which so many of them clearly lack: Wisdom.

Not “degrees from elite colleges.” Not general airs of superior knowledge. Not “book-smarts” because that can only take you so far, but the sort of “gut-smarts” that are so often the touchstones of real wisdom.

Solomon was smart enough – wise enough – to pray, not for riches, not to not get caught, not for security, but for an understanding heart.

O LORD, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed my father David; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act. I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong. For who is able to govern this vast people of yours?”
The LORD was pleased that Solomon made this request. So God said to him: “Because you have asked for this–not for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies, but for understanding so that you may know what is right. I do as you requested. I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you.

The financial crisis that startled congressional partisans to near-silence last weak has already dulled enough for some political maneuvering to appear. The very people who helped to create this crisis now want to “oversee” the bailout. Others object and say – quite rightly – that one person should not have that much power. Leaders who last week squawked, “no one knows what to do,” suddenly want to pretend they have the answers; more money! To the trillions of dollars we’re spending, let’s spend even more. That’s pretty scary.

The GOP – taking a very big risk, here – is taking their chances with the dubious press; they know if they argue with the Democrats it will be reported with venom as “obstructionism”, and played up to the hilt in this election, but they’re going to argue, anyway, and they are right to. This is far too serious an issue for the political sandbox. We can’t afford another mistake.

So, I am off to Adoration, as I am every Monday. Today is no particular feast day; it is a simple day of prayer, and the Vespers of the evening can be found here, if you’d like to pray it. In fact, the first psalm seems particularly apt:

“For the wicked have drawn their bows, fitted the arrow to the string, to shoot in darkness at the upright of heart.
When the foundations are being overthrown, what are the just to do?”

No, I’m not calling anyone “wicked” – the foundations do feel like they’re close to being overthrown.

Aside from the liturgical prayer, I am going to pray especially for that “understanding heart”
with which God gifted Solomon. I’m going to ask it for our leadership in both parties, and for all of us, too – that our election may be guided by hearts that have considered and weighed and measured.

People who don’t understand prayer – like, apparently, Charlie Gibson – do not understand that for people of faith, regardless of religion, the prayer is always, “thy will be done,” or “help us to know thy will.”

Our leadership is flailing about. I do believe they tread precarious waters and that most of them haven’t a damn clue what is to be done, here. And because they don’t know what to do, they’re retreating to what they do know, which is partisanship and politicization. But these times are too serious for it. It has to stop.

We have to demand that it stop – it is partly what brought us here. But even more importantly, we have to pray. Because prayer has real power. It changes things.

And the prayer should not be, “O, Lord, fix this economy so that we do not suffer,” or “O Lord, fix the economy so that our guy wins!” It should be something like:

“Have mercy on us, Lord, in our confusion and weakness. Give unto us, our nation, and our leaders, an understanding heart; that we might trust your guidance and do your will. Should it please you, we may recognise the firm path of economic and social rescue, one that treads upon honest ground and leads us to a place of secure foundation. You are our Rock, O Lord. Help us to lean upon you in these troubled times, to turn toward your light and your truth, that we may safely steer this dangerous and murky road. Help us to be mindful of those in particular need, the elderly, the unwell, that they do not escape our vision, but rather call us to proceed with extra care, and a determined dependence upon your light. We ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever.”

As I said, “something like that.” Solomon’s prayer seems pretty good to me, all by itself.

I’ll be posting Compline – the prayer before sleep – tonight, and then will make available a page where the Night prayers for the whole week may easily be found. An awful lot of people seem to be clicking on to those prayers, and if before bedtime is the only time you can find to pray, and praying sometimes comes hard, hey, I’m happy to help out. New Wineskins is also writing about the spiritual side of this crisis.

If you like this post, please consider clicking the subscription chiclet at the top of the right-hand sidebar. Maybe we can all pray together, and be support for each other through what may well be – if it is the Divine plan – some harsh days.

Here are some spiritual and secular perspectives.

Victor Davis Hanson on Wisdom in an election season.

Text of Draft Proposal for the Bailout here.

Browse Our Archives