Most people reading this will be aware there are two impasses going on right now, happening each side of the Pond, over: Brexit and Trump’s Wall (and along with it how to re-open government). While the future of these two projects is presently in doubt, there is little doubt these will eventually be resolved one way (go ahead (with or without conditions) or not) or the other but let me first recap …
As the deadline looms for the UK to leave the EU, we seem no nearer to seeing the light at the end of the tunnel than when the UK electorate made that momentous decision to leave the EU two and a half years ago. Tuesday’s vote on “the Deal” Prime Minister May had painstakingly negotiated with her EU counterparts was resoundingly rejected by Parliament and, despite an effort by the Labour, seeing their chance for power, opposition to bring down her government, by putting forward a vote of no confidence in the government, the next day, Mrs May remains in charge, with the unenviable job of needing to put forward an alternative proposal very soon. The impasse is as I write there is no deal on the table that both the EU and Parliament will agree to and the UK is faced with the prospect of leaving the EU without a deal, which many think is a bad idea.
One of the promises made prior to being elected as US President, then candidate Trump said he would build a wall separating the US and Mexico (and Mexico will pay for it). As with UK’s Brexit this is a controversial and divisive matter and while the Wall is yet to be built (two years into his term) there has been considerable activity when it comes to stopping illegal immigration. While some say it has reduced the number of violent criminals, child sex trafficking and harmful drugs etc. entering the country, others would say, on humanitarian grounds, too high a price has been paid. One of the quirks of the US system (compared with the UK) is while the legislature (Congress and Senate) may propose budgets, the executive (i.e. the President himself) needs to approve them. If he doesn’t, then the government shuts down (or parts of it), because government employees don’t get paid and some services do not get funded. Usually, a compromise is reached, but not this time…
Before I get to prayer, which should be non partisan, I should at least lay my cards on the table by suggesting what might happen next and what I would like to see happen, mindful it will not be like that given yet to happen events I cannot predict and a bigger picture which I possess only in part. I also wish to pay respect to Christian friends who see things very different to me (especially those who engage respectfully), and while I may feel strongly they are wrong I also need to recognize the One we seek to serve has the final answer and rather than create or add to barriers between Christians who think different, I need to seek unity. As for prayer, I am reminded that in 1940 Britain had reached another impasse – how to return their troops stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk. The fact they were returned (mostly safely) was arguably as a result of prayer.
So back to Brexit, before the EU Referendum I firmly believed the UK should leave (and I also argued why). Since the vote I have become even more convinced this was the right decision and while making a deal is in the interest of all parties for an orderly exit it was not essential. I expected there to be opposition to implementing the will of the people but hadn’t quite reckoned on an inept leadership failing to satisfactorily prepare the way for life outside of the EU and coming up with something that fits the earlier May criteria of no deal is better than a bad deal. In my pessimism I can see an extension being asked for and given for when to leave, followed by another referendum with eventually the UK remaining in the EU, with a few trinkets to soften the blow. What I hope for, but don’t quite see how outside of an unexpected event(s), is there to be a clean break and a deal to ensure orderly transition.
So back to the wall, a lot of what I see going on e.g. the toing and froing between Trump and Pelosi / Shumer as pure politicking. And while I am all for a compassionate and fair immigration policy it needs to happen legally and if a wall helps to keep out illegal entry and reduce those evils mentioned earlier than as imperfect an idea this may be a wall needs to be built. What we are seeing now is a stand off with no one prepared to back down or even come to a compromise. I suspect also there is a lot going on behind the scenes. While messy, Trump can still get his wall built e.g. by calling a State of Emergency, but for reasons best known to himself and his inner circle he tries for a deal that presently is not forthcoming and is unlikely as things stand. Tantalizingly, while I am a watchman, I don’t know the full story and fully expect there to be surprises.
So back to prayer. One of my praying Christian friends who sees things happening on the world stage very differently to me as to what should happen has commented when high profile Christians have talked about prayer (especially those closer to my way of thinking) they have often associated their praying with the outcome they believe is needed and with God’s approval. BUT WE ALL DO IT – and I say this as Christian for over 50 years that has seen it all and in most of those cases when people prayer in this vein they are usually well meaning and may well argue they are praying in accordance to what they see as the will of God. I don’t have all the answers to when Christians differ but as it stands my friend may not attend a prayer meeting I convene over these matters and I may not attend one he convenes. I expect with many of the prayer events that are being planned for at this time, many won’t attend as suspicious of the agenda. And yet, like with the days prior to Dunkirk, where there appeared no human answer, this is the time to pray.
Many Christians have considered this conundrum and how to pray in these momentous times, mindful of the old cliche that we don’t always sing from the same hymn sheet, and many say helpful things that encourage one to pray more concerning what is happening in the world (I am thankful we do so at least to a limited extent at my church – and it is void of political pontificating). One article I would commend is titled: “On praying in ‘interesting times’” by Canon J.John, a CofE evangelist. When it reached my daily in-box, I felt while I saw J.John as one of the good guys when it came to matters of faith, I half expected to disagree based on the concerns I raised above. But what he wrote strongly resonated as being a right approach and there was nothing in what he wrote that would indicate he is pro or anti Brexit or pro or anti Wall.
We do indeed live in interesting days and days when we need to pray more than ever for light to shine in darkness. Despite having a view about Brexit and the Wall, the need for people to come to Christ and be saved and for the Lord to be gloried, trumps everything!