Don’t Look in the Basement

A couple I knew growing up ran a private film production company. She had been an actress and he a film producer, and so they settled in the “middle Coast” and began making movies. They made a go of the business and they did it the same way Sylvester Stallone skyrocketed to fame in the 1970’s: they found a formula that worked and they stuck to it. Their particular formula was low-budget horror films. It was fun to hear the behind-the-scenes stories of how they made these movies. They were campy and creepy, entertainment by jump scenes and gross-out-the-audience suggestion that sometimes crossed the line into humor because it was so over the top. The one I remember most was entitled, “Don’t Look in the Basement.” It was about a mental institution in which the inmates take over the asylum.

Watching the news last night made me think of it.

The White House is “taking pains” to avoid calling the Taliban a terrorist group, preferring instead the label “armed insurgency.” Ok. An armed insurgency that the U.S. Department of State reports shot a mother in the street for attempting to transport her sick child, whom she carried in her arms, to a doctor – without a male escort. An armed insurgency that shot a woman in front of her seven children at a soccer match. An armed insurgency that murdered three American contractors last week as they did their jobs at the Kabul airport.

Chris Kyle, a decorated U.S. Navy Seal Team 3 member, who served on assignment as covert protection for endangered U.S. troops during four tours in Iraq, is called a racist who went on ‘killing sprees’ by a national news commentator.

A sitting U.S. President declines, for the second time, to meet with a visiting head of state from one of America’s strongest and longest-term allies.

You can look at these things, take off your glasses, clean them, put them back on, and draw the obvious conclusion: It’s not safe to look in the basement. The inmates quite apparently have taken over the asylum.

Isaiah the prophet foresaw this very thing and summed it all up in one word: WHOA!

Isaiah 5:20

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

Whoa! I used to say that to my horse when he took off running without any direction. Whoa! Stop! Don’t go any further! Whoa!

Woe!

The country and the culture I grew up in seems to have upended itself. Its like the children’s game, Opposite Day, where everything you say is the opposite of what is true. Except that game only lasts for a day, and usually isn’t sustainable even that long: lying is exhausting.

Another example: the mayor of Houston, in the self-described “most personally important thing I will ever do as mayor” announced all bathrooms in Houston “gender neutral”: i.e. you can choose whether you’d rather use the women’s room or the men’s room, depending on what you find more comfortable.

Hmm. I may be more comfortable with cockatiels than coyotes, but that doesn’t make me a cockatiel. And speaking of asylums, I can walk around all day with my hair combed forward and my hand tucked in my shirt and tell you with full conviction that I’m Napoleon. But that doesn’t make me Napoleon. And I wouldn’t advise you to put me in charge of France in response.

By the way: since when do mayors make public law?

So that’s where we are. The State of our Union has devolved into Opposites Day.

What can we do? The proverbial horse has been let out of the barn. Whoa!

Woe indeed. But here is what we can do and its the same thing we did when my horse did get out of the barn. You don’t just sit there. You don’t chase the horse screaming for it to stop. You circle around and stand in front of the bolting horse, arms upraised. And you say Whoa.

And here’s how we do that – WE PRAY.

We pray, and we don’t pray casually, as an add-on to our bedtime prayers. We don’t pray one day a year at a pole and we don’t pray for forty days and move on to the next thing. We engage God regularly, fervently, pointedly and repeatedly. He invites us to reason with Him.

Isaiah 1:18

 “Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.”

He promises to hear us as we pray continually…

Luke 18:1, 7

Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart…Now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?

Our prayers are to be like the incense that burned in the tabernacle. It was to burn perpetually.

Exodus 30:8

When Aaron trims the lamps at twilight, he shall burn incense. There shall be perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations.

And that incense, in Exodus, in the very beginning of God’s recorded history, represented what is to still be in place at the end of the age in Revelation…our prayers…

Revelation 5:8

When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

…our perpetual prayers…

 

I Thessalonians 5:17

Pray without ceasing.

Remember the little puppet, Lambchop? (Showing my age again!) He used to sing a little song called The Song That Doesn’t End. Our prayers are to be that – the song that doesn’t end.

And our prayers are effective! Again, we see it in Scripture.

When God came to Abraham in Genesis 18:16-22, He told him of Sodom’s impending destruction. Abraham’s nephew lived in Sodom with his family. And Abraham began reasoning with God.

Genesis 18:23

Abraham came near and said, “Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?

Abraham came near and reasoned with God, and as a result, Lot and his daughters were delivered.

When the Israelites refused to trust God and to move into the Promised Land at the word of Joshua and Caleb in Numbers 14, God was prepared to remove the nation from His promise and fulfill it through Moses alone (Numbers 14:11-12). But Moses reasoned with God on their behalf, and God mercifully sustained the nation and brought the next generation into the Promised Land.

When Israel and Judah had been repeatedly unfaithful to God through fifteen full generations, God fulfilled His Word and removed them from the Promised Land, allowing them to be taken into exile to Babylon (modern day Iraq). And yet again, in fulfillment of His Word, 70 years later He returned a remnant to that land. When again in the land of their forefathers, Nehemiah and Ezra prayed and petitioned God for forgiveness and mercy on behalf of the nation (Ezra 9:6-15; Nehemiah 1:4-11), and God restored them.

Even when Solomon dedicated the Temple he had built to the Lord, he prayed and petitioned on behalf of the nation for future generations (I Kings 8; 2 Chronicles 6).

These things were not recorded in Scripture arbitrarily. It’s not dry history. It’s our paradigm.

1 Corinthians 10:11

Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

How often in crisis we hear, “What can I do for you besides pray?” – as if prayer isn’t really doing something. We just say it out of rote kindness.

Prayer is doing something!!!

Prayer is effecting the outcome. Prayer is heard and considered by the Creator of the Universe. If you want to be a person of influence – this is your ticket. It is influence to the uttermost. It impacts the course of the events of time.

The word influence is derived from the Latin, influencia, which includes the meaning:  ‘imperceptible or indirect action exerted to cause changes.’ That’s what prayer does in regard to the sovereign God. When we pray, we are heard by the God of Daniel 2:21:

Daniel 2:21

It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding.

Pray for the nation!!!

Because the horse is out of the barn.

James 5:16
Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

 

Pray for the nation!

Join us at http://www.prayingtwobytwo.com

Do it now!! The need is urgent!