LISTEN NOW! WATCH FULL PROGRAM! Often times we can miss the overwhelming transformation and shift that has taken place without taking into consideration where we have come from. As our nation’s leadership has just carried out its 65th National Prayer Breakfast, it is vital to understand what took place and transpired only two years ago. When we understand this, then we can fully embrace the excitement and awesome moment of what just happened at this year’s National Prayer Breakfast.
In 2015, United States Air Force Major General, Craig Olson, had spoken at the National Day of Prayer. As a Believer in Jesus Christ, he not only is outspoken towards his faith in the Lord, but also very bold for the Lord as well. As a leader in our nation’s military, he points out how an image capturing George Washington, kneeling in prayer, reminds him of how important it is for him to seek God in his life as well. He correlates how this image of George Washington has been an image of where God has placed him in his own journey of life. “God has given me these experiences to drive me further and further beneath, before God, in position.” Having a life of prayer wasn’t always General’s Olson’s approach. After hearing how Jack Hayford began every day on his knees before God, General Olson decided to make a change. “The day I heard that, I started the very next day. Every time the alarm goes off, I’m going to fall on my knees; and I think it’s been twenty years I’ve been doing the same thing.” This “moment” of prayer was not only at his morning bedside, but as he describes, all throughout his day. “So, I found myself doing that, many times a day. Closing the door of the office, finding some closet somewhere, where I can get that way because I just need to. And, I’ll stop many times a day to pause in prayer, for that next meeting, that next phone call, that next decision.”
How beautiful and inspiring is it to know that our military leaders place so much importance on each of their decisions and rely on God to carry out each of their decisions and responsibilities? But, surprisingly enough, the response towards these encouraging statements was anything but encouraging. As a response to Major General Olson expressing his faith and dependency upon the Lord, he was threatened with a Court Martial. As the Air Force Times reported, The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, is calling for General Olson to be “aggressively and very visibly brought to justice for his unforgivable crimes and transgressions” by a court-martial, adding that any other service members who helped him should be investigated and punished “to the full extent of military law.” The CEO of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, Mikey Weinstein, more specifically says, as reported by the Air Force Times; “Olson’s highly publicized, sectarian speech is nothing less than a brutal disgrace to the very uniform he was wearing and the solemn oath he took to support and defend the United States Constitution”. This is how the General was treated for such bold statements. To accept this response is to essentially agree that the General can fight for our freedoms, but he cannot express his own freedoms.
The good news is this: today is a new day. There is a new administration in leadership. Not only are our leaders boldly declaring the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but our newly elected President, President Trump, encourages it. This couldn’t be demonstrated more clearly than when Rear Admiral (ret.), now Senate Chaplain, Barry Black spoke at the 65th National Prayer Breakfast.
The Chaplain points out how our nation’s leaders gather each week for a prayer breakfast. He highlights how this moment encourages him each and every time; “One of the things that really inspires me about that prayer breakfast, is the closing prayer; when they stand and join hands, and they pray together; To see Republican, Democrat, Independent praying together. I find myself thinking, ‘where are the C-SPAN cameras when you need them?’” The demonstration of faith in our nation’s leadership isn’t limited to this weekly prayer breakfast. The Chaplain also points out, “Some of you may not know that every Wednesday, the Chiefs of Staff get together for a Bible study that begins and ends with a prayer.” It doesn’t stop there. “Some of you may not know that every Friday, more than 100 staffers, capital police officers, janitors, waiters, waitresses, come together for a Bible study. And that Bible study begins and ends with a prayer.”
The Chaplain continues to highlight how important prayer is in our daily lives. “So, we need to come together, and realize, that when we pray, we are making our voice, our voices heard in heaven.” This is much different than how we can attempt to make our voices heard in the Earth, through all the varying platforms that technology allows us in this generation. “I also believe that when we pray, humanity cooperates with divinity. My friends, there are things that we will never get, except by request only.”
As an example of our how voices can be heard in heaven, Chaplain Black points to the story and prayer of Jabez from 1 Chronicles 4:9-10; “’…Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request.” How applicable is this very prayer for all of us? “Oh, my friends, just to have God’s hand on us. We ought to pray that God’s hand would be on our President.”
As Chaplain continues his bold words for the Lord, he expresses how we should not only desire to have a close and intimate relationship with the Lord, but that God also desires this type of relationship with us. Of all the things that God has laid upon our hearts to pray for, and bring to His throne, we should never stop lifting up those in authority and leadership.
Chaplain Black switches gears and walks us through the journey of his upbringing in Baltimore, Maryland, in the same neighborhood as Freddie Gray. “So I grew up about 30 miles from Washington D.C. I did not shake hands with a white person until I was 16 years old. No white people in my church, no white people in my neighborhood, no white people in my school.” In the midst of this atmosphere, his mother encouraged Chaplain Black, and his siblings, to remember Bible verses. For every verse memorized, they were rewarded with a nickel. He responded as many other young children would. He searched the Bible for the shortest verses he could find. With the many short verses that he was able to find and memorize, he shares how one Bible verse began the transformation in his searches. “One day I memorized 1 Peter 1:18-19. I was only 10 years of age. It says, ‘We are redeemed not with corruptible things, such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Jesus Christ.’” It was at this moment that there was a shift. “Even at 10, I had sufficient skills to know, that the value of an object is based upon the price someone is willing to pay. When it dawned on me, a little guy in the inner-city, that God…sent His only begotten Son to die for me, no one was ever able to make me feel inferior again.” What began with a search for the reward of nickels, began a desperate search to find the very one that Peter spoke of.
Chaplain Black begins to share an inspiring symphony of God’s names as he walks through the Bible’s declaration of who God is. From ‘I AM’ in Exodus, ‘The Rock’ in Deuteronomy, ‘The Great Shepherd’ in Psalms, ‘Savior’ in Matthew, and to ‘The Word Made Flesh’ as John calls Him. As he finishes this amazing journey of who God is, he ends with this awesome truth.
“And so, because I kept meeting that Man, my hope does not rest in the various branches of government…my hope does not rest in the alliances that we build. My testimony is simply this, my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest flame, but holy lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ, the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand! God bless you!”
As powerful and inspiring as these words are, some may wonder how our current President responded? If the President’s extended standing applause was not enough, President Trump also had these words to share in response; “Thank you as well to Senate Chaplain Barry Black, for his moving words. And, I don’t know Chaplain, if that is an appointed position…I don’t even know if you’re a Democrat or a Republican, but I’m appointing you for another year…” This is such a beautiful and encouraging moment in our nation’s history; when faith is boldly declared, is received AND welcomed! Be sure to not only listen to the full words of Senate Chaplain Black, but to also make your voice heard in heaven, and so much more! Also shared in this segment: prayer, government, Congress, Senators, law enforcement officers, social media, moving mountains, thanksgiving, “a shonuf blessing”, eternity, humility, and Capitol Hill. Greg and Steve shared in this segment.
screen capture from youtube.com/C-SPAN