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Prayer comes before punch
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Last week I was talking with two friends of my mine about a lock down that took place at Manteca High School earlier in the day.   Apparently a couple of guys decided to rob a local bank then tried to hide out in a home near the school.  Fortunately, witnesses called the police who in turn requested the lock-down until it was safe for students to be released.  After a lengthy stand-off, the police were able to use non-lethal weapons to bring the dangerous situation to a successful end.  

Needing to make light of the very serious situation, one of my friends Jamie, whose two children were at Manteca High during the lock-down said “I know what they should have done.  They should have sent the moms of the kids locked in the school to get those guys.”  Having children of my own, I naturally agreed wholeheartedly and then added something to the effect of how a good “beat-down” from all the mamas would have been in order.   Being the mindful Christian that I am, I felt obligated to mention that we could have prayed for the robbers but that a beat-down was definitely in order.  My other quick witted friend Cindy added, “Well, prayer does come before punch.”  Immediately the three of us broke out in laughter as we considered how alphabetically the word pray does indeed come before punch.

Later, as we went our separate ways, grateful that the situation with the robbers hadn’t been worse and thankful for the ability to find some humor in the midst of it all I started thinking about Cindy’s words. Prayer comes before punch.  Now please don’t misunderstand what I am about to say but I was downright happy as I thought about how the Bible confirms the idea, that sometimes punching is necessary but prayer always comes first.

In 1 Samuel 23 we see King David praying to God and asking Him if he should go into battle.  When God confirmed, the King knew it was time to fight.  For David prayer always came before punch. Another good example is the prophet Nehemiah.

While Nehemiah and the people of Judah were rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem in order to protect the city, a couple of instigators, Sanballat and Tobiah came along and posed a major threat.  They plotted to stop Nehemiah and the Israelites from building by any means necessary.  Nehemiah and the people had every reason to fear their enemies but do know what happened?  The prophet remembered that pray comes before punch. “But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.” (Nehemiah 4:9)

Together Nehemiah and Israelites prayed to God for strength, wisdom and courage to continue doing what He had called them to do which was to rebuild the wall and God answered their prayers by saying,

“Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” (Nehemiah 4:14) They knew they would have to fight whether it be physically, mentally or emotionally and so they prayed then God gave them the courage and strength they needed.

Just as Nehemiah and the people of Judah had to stand up against their enemy who wanted to destroy them, the people in this community need to stand up and fight against the enemy who is trying to destroy us.  I don’t just mean a couple of bank robbers, I’m talking about the many who Satan uses to bring fear, destruction, violence, drugs, abuse and more into our lives, homes, families, schools and community.     

If we want to see change here in our town we must do exactly what Nehemiah told the people to do—Pray to our God then post guard day and night.  I’m not saying stand on the corner of Yosemite and Main and pop people in the nose who get on your nerves.  I’m saying by seeking God first then getting to know each other better, forming a better bond with the people in the community, participating in neighborhood watch programs, and being willing to stand up and say NO MORE when we see things that aren’t right, we will not only fight our family and community but throw a powerful punch that can stop the enemy his is tracks.