This is the text from the prayer I was privileged to pray at the public gathering for prayer in Cookeville, TN.
I was tasked to pray for Media and the Economy. Below is the prayer from my heart on these matters that face our culture and nation.
National Day of Prayer
Putnam County, TN courthouse
Dear Father in Heaven:
We gather together today before your throne imploring your holiness to cover us with your mercy.
You are Creator.
As such we are created.
You have granted us the ability to create art, culture, language, economy, and technology. It is through technology that our culture now conducts business and consumes entertainment. While advances in technology and communication have changed our world in dramatic ways, we fail to use your gift of creativity to glorify your name.
Entertainment is now our culture more so than pure artistic expression focused on your glory. This status causes us to worship celebrity rather than you.
We allow the idolatry of celebrity worship to shape the functions of YOUR church. Our gatherings for worship are too often venues for spectator entertainment. Our church leaders are chosen not by your directives in scripture but by levels of charisma or superstar potential. Our worship music rarely glorifies your grace for us but inspires our comfort. Expository preaching of your scripture is replaced by entertaining stories and prosperity gospel distortion. The emphasis on the salvation offered in Christ is now shifted to prosperity gospel and lifestyle coaching.
Oh, dear Lord. Forgive us.
Please cause the churches in Putnam County to return to authentic worship and preaching of your Word. Cause the churches to return to a focus of prayer and evangelism. All things work together for Your good, oh Lord, and that is our good. (Romans 8:28)
We have substituted your design for relationship and communication with self serving and mind numbing media. This too is idolatry.
This shift in focus now controls the worship rightly due your Holy Name.
Because we focus so much on our personal pleasure we produce and consume media opposed to your glory. The power of film and digital media consumes us with an ungodly attraction. The Beata Visio is lost among the idolatrous allure of false beauty. The media produced is that which we consume. The economics of entertainment follow our viewing habits. We are to blame for the ungodly filth rampant in the entertainment industry.
Dear Lord... forgive us.
Media is the means to a place of ideas and our over saturated information economy is full of short sound bytes and gossip driven news stories. We are drawn to these false narratives as if we were members of a brainwashed cult.
Please dear God... Forgive us.
Please grant us wisdom to discern valuable media from gossip shaped truth twisting. Cause us to refrain from time wasted in consuming media and entertainment. Cause us to focus on prayer and the study of scripture.
Media causes us to now blend our work with leisure weakening productivity. Our human connections between each other are now filtered through digital environments. We fail to bond with each other and substitute meaningful relationships with likes and posts and sharing of media links
Please cause us to reconnect relationships through face to face means. As you God are relational in your Trinitarian nature, please draw us back to relationship with you through Jesus Christ.
Our economy emphasizes self serving consumerism rather than promoting strong community of interdependence.
We worship our purchases and blend entertainment with media shopping. To spend money requires seconds of electronic transaction. This is an addiction for too many of us. Rather than budgeting the resources you provide for the needs of living we waste finances on our own pleasure. Rather than sacrificing a portion of your resources for your church and for the gospel message through missions Evangelism we waste dollars on credit card debt.
Please, dear God... provide for us as you promise to do. But cause us to manage your provision well. Convict us Lord when we fail you. Forgive us always.
“Not to us, O Lord, not to us, But to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness.”
“Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!”
Thank you for hearing our cry.
We pray today for our county, our state, our country, and our world.
In the name of your precious only Son, Jesus Christ.
The Pelagian approach to justice and doing good works suffers paradox. The work from Saint Jerome's dialogue, Against the Pelagians, reveals the error of allowing the implied meaning of a text to stand without an explicit expression of the meaning. Atticus, an Augustinian, debates with Critobulus, a Pelagian, about the sense of free will and the role of God’s grace. Critobulus insists, in his writing, that man can be sinless in doing good works. Atticus inquires about the meaning of this thought in hopes to clarify whether Pelagianism and Orthodox Christian doctrine are compatible.
While Pelagianism argued for strict adherence to the letter of the law in the determined action of one’s sinlessness, the spirit of God's grace is implied. Critobulus responds to Atticus to clarify the charge from the Augustinians that Pelagians teach that man can be without sin if he chooses. While the orthodox doctrine of the church agrees that man does possess free will to choose obedience to God's law, only, “by God’s grace and assistance” is obedience t o the law possible. Critobulus clarifies to Atticus that Pelagians do not disregard the work of grace in the sanctification of man. While the aid of grace is not specifically spoken, man can be without sin, if he chooses, with “the aid of the grace of God being presupposed.”
The Pelagian argues that the spirit of grace is implied, or understood, in the ability of man to choose the path to the state of sinlessness. The spirit of God’s Law dominates in this argument in one following the letter of the law in piety. In contrast, the Augustinians insist that the letter of the law be clearly expressed by declaring in the discussion of free will, that God's grace alone causes just actions through God’s law. While the Augustinians insist on the clear verbiage of the letter of the law about God’s grace, the spirit of God’s law must be trusted over following the legal requirement of the letter of the law for salvation.
In not writing the words, “by God’s grace and assistance,” the Pelagians found themselves in distress with the orthodox teaching of doctrine. An exchange between Atticus and Critobulus shows the point of the Augustinians in expressing God’s grace.
Critobulus: ...what I did write is perfectly clear. I said that man can be without sin, if he chooses. Did I add, without the grace of God?
Atticus: No; but in fact that you added nothing implies your denial of the need of grace.
Critobulus: Nay, rather, the fact that I have not denied grace should be regarded as tantamount to an assertion of it. It is unjust to suppose we deny whatever we do not assert.
Atticus: You admit then that man can be sinless, if he chooses, but with the grace of God.
Critobulus: I not only admit it, but freely proclaim it.
Atticus: So then he who does away with the grace of God is in error.
Critobulus: Just so. Or rather, he ought to be thought impious, seeing that all things are governed by the pleasure of God, and that we owe our existence and the faculty of individual choice and desire to the goodness of God, the Creator.
The conclusion of this round of discussion proves the position of the Augustinians. To not speak clearly of God’s grace implies that grace is not necessary. By implying that God’s grace is ‘presupposed' in all human choice of piety, the grace of God is abandoned. The spirit of the Pelagian intent is that God's grace is understood and requires no clarification in speaking of free will. The free will of man apart from God’s grace is the power of man without God to be just. The spirit of God’s grace cannot be assumed or implied lest one be thought impious.
The issue is that Atticus did not understand clearly the Pelagian position on God's role in just actions of man. Clarity must be perfected; otherwise, Pelagian doctrine is in error due to doubt. Atticus points out the problem of misunderstanding the meaning of Critobulus’ work. “How is it then that everybody thinks you do away with the grace of God and maintain that all our actions proceed from our own will...but in fact that you added nothing implies your denial of the need of grace.” Where it appears that Augustinian theology emphasizes faith in the spirit of God’s law over following the letter of God's law, Augustinianism also emphasizes obedience to the letter of the law. Where the Pelagians want to impose the grace of God on all actions, without clarifying that it is the origin, Augustinians emphasize that any discussion of good actions, or just works, must clearly indicate, with words, that God’s grace is the source of the just actions. Any theological description of just action, apart from the clear expression of the phrase, “by God's grace,” will imply that the good action is the work of man alone. The error of the Pelagians is that they wish to follow the spirit of good actions by suggesting that God's grace is always manifesting in humanity’s great works. But, in doing so, they change the meaning of just actions apart from God's grace.
The Augustinian position on God’s grace is not only the Spirit of God’s law; it is also the Letter of the Law. According to Augustine, justice is not the works of the human by following the letter of the law, but rather the Spirit of God’s grace causing the work that humanity cannot do apart from God’s grace.
 Critobulus: “I said, Atticus, that man can be without sin, if he chooses; not, as some maliciously make us say, without the grace of God (the very thought is impiety), but simply that he can, if he chooses; the aid of the grace of God being presupposed.”
Saint Jerome, Against The Pelagians, trans. Unknown (Wyatt North Publishing, 2012), KOBO epub, [Book I, p. 2]
 Ibid., Book I, p. 4.
 Ibid., Book I, p. 2.