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  • Writer's pictureJoel Harder

Prayers from the OK House Floor | March 19-22

I am privileged from time to time to serve as the Chaplain of the OK House of Representatives. In this capacity, I am invited to offer the invocation each day at the beginning of the session. Each prayer is derived from scripture God impresses upon my heart, as an invocation of His presence and blessing upon every member of the House of Representatives.

March 19, 2018

God we pause in the midst of this day, very near the half-way mark in this 2018 legislative session, and in the quiet of this place we consider how far we’ve come, the work that has since been done. The Hebrew King of old writes in the 33rd Psalm: “The Lord looks down from heaven; he observes everyone. He gazes on all the inhabitants of the earth from his dwelling place. He forms the hearts of them all; he considers all their works.” Lord, I believe that is true – You are not distant or dis-interested, but you see the interactions, the negotiations, conversations… the advocacy, the policy making, and the difficult decisions being made. The work done in this chamber, for the people of our state, is not hidden from you. Neither are the hearts and minds of every member of this House of Representatives. You see each and every one – and you love them with an unfailing love. God, I thank you for each and every one. They are a gift to us, and they serve, not just because they were elected, but because they are uniquely equipped and appointed to serve at this time. I ask you to bless them, if any are ill, may they be strengthened and healed. If any are burdened by trials at home, may you give grace sufficient for this day, and bless their families and their homes. Now Lord, as each one looks away from the work that has been done, and turns their gaze to the work that lies before them in the second half of this session, God, let the leaders in this chamber hear the wisdom from this ancient king, who writes, “A king is not saved by a large army; a warrior will not be rescued by great strength.But look, the LORD keeps his eye on those who fear him – those who depend on his faithful love to rescue them from death and to keep them alive in famine.We wait for the LORD; he is our help and shield. For our hearts rejoice in him because we trust in his holy name. May your faithful love rest on us, LORD, for we put our hope in you.” This, in the name of Jesus, I pray, Amen.

March 20, 2018

Heavenly Father: Thank you for the gift of this day, to gather in this place as colleagues, to serve with integrity and to selflessly seek the welfare of all, in every community of our state. God, I do thank you for each member of this House of Representatives. I praise you for each one – their gifts and abilities, their skills and experience, for their principled conviction and dedication to represent the individuals and families their districts. God, I thank you for the unexpected joy that is mine to know them, to pray for them, and to encourage them – not with my own strength or insight – but with the blessings that come from a great and glorious God, from whom every good and perfect gift comes, a personal God and enduring friend who redeems our hearts transforms our minds, comforts us in our troubles, and reconciles us to God who made us and pursues our hearts as a loving Father. I count these who serve in this legislature as friends and I know that in their legislative task many are burdened to protect those most vulnerable in our state – those who are victims of injustice and abuse. Let them hear from another leader, one known as being a man after God’s own heart: Who writes in the 10th Psalm: “Rise up, Lord God! Lift up your hand. Do not forget the oppressed. You, yourself have seen trouble and grief, observing it in order to take the matter into your hands.The LORD is King forever and ever; the nations will perish from this land. Lord, you have heard the desire of the humble; you will strengthen their hearts.You will listen carefully, doing justice for the fatherless and the oppressed so that mere humans from the earth may hurt them no more.” God, let this same careful attention, humble desire, and heart of compassion increase in everyone in this room. God, show us your heart of compassion and make it our own. This, in the name of Jesus, I pray, Amen.

March 21, 2018

God Almighty: The psalmists of old called you Lord of Hosts and declared, “God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. Therefore, we will not be afraid…” Psalm 46:1-2 Hebrew scholars also translated this promise to be, “God, a helper who is ABUNDANTLY AVAILBLE in tight spaces.” Lord of Hosts, that is my prayer for each member of this House of Representatives. May they be protected and strengthened. May they be filled with courage and made fearless… And may they find in you, help that is abundantly available, even in the tightest of spaces – where there seems to be no way. Most often, the troubles we face are of our own doing. We back ourselves into a corner and then fruitlessly look to ourselves to find the way out… Rather, as the psalmist writes, we need only to “Be still and know that you are God.” Psalm 46:10 Your wisdom is knowable, your provision is available. Let us look to you. In the stillness, may we have patience, gentleness, peace, and joy. Let each member speak with knowledge and skill and may each hear and learn from one another. And bless the work they do, as they cooperate and negotiate, may they chart a path forward that is both just and prudent. So that all may flourish and prosper in the days to come and years ahead. This, in the name of Jesus, I pray, Amen.

March 22, 2018

Heavenly Father: Thank you for these members and the work of this week. I ask you to give strength, wisdom, and skillfulness in the work that is before them this day. As we look to the weekend – many turn their attention to the things they were forced to set aside so they might serve in this legislature. Responsibilities in their jobs, homes, and communities. But I ask, LORD, that each find the opportunity to truly rest. Your word says: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy: You are to labor six days and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. You must not do any work – you, your household, and those who work for you all the way to your livestock are to rest. Even the foreigner inside your city gates is to rest. For the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six days; then he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and declared it holy.” Exodus 20:8-11 You gave the Sabbath for our Good:
  1. Opportunity to stop from the work done and to consider that which is good, and that which is not. Then to seek wisdom for what to do next.

  2. Meet God in Rest: We rest because You rested. Not out of need, but to institute a rhythm to life, a way we can patter our lives after God. Rest is perhaps one of the truly divine activities we can do.

  3. Declare truth to our soul – We are not God, who does not slumber nor sleep. We are limited, finite, and frail. We need rest. Speaking truth is for our good – denying it only does us harm. God, the work in the week to come is weighty. So restore these members – refresh them, body, mind, and soul. This, in the name of Jesus, I pray, Amen.

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