An offensive prayer

There has been much ado or to-do about a prayer which was offered on behalf of the nation during Grenada’s Forty-first Independence celebration. Some callers on the radio approved of it and said kind things; others did not and excoriated the one who officiated.

I did not personally hear the comments made because I hardly even listen to the radio, let alone watch television (mercifully). But friends who heard have told me about people’s reaction. Some callers even suggested doing an inquiry into the character of the one who prayed. They surmised that there are preachers who have a bad reputation with women and certainly, they imagined, this must be one of them.

One man suggested stoning something which I anticipated as I prepared my prayer. My wife reported that he expressed to her the feeling that if he had one other person with him he would let fly at the preacher with stones and rotten eggs. Shades of John Newton who was attacked with such offensive missiles back in the 1700’s while he preached in the meadows around London! It would have been an honour to share his fate.

As the one who prayed the offensive prayer I would welcome an inquiry into my character. Send in the private eye at any time. My number is listed. I would suggest that the private detective begin by questioning my wife about my character and conduct. She will be glad to provide him with answers for she knows me better than any other human. He can also question members of the four churches which I have pastored in Grenada.

Like a post-modern Sherlock Holmes he can examine the websites that I visit on my computer and read the data which I have stored. I would be more than happy to assist him in finding that which he seeks, if indeed it exists.

I have been a follower of Jesus Christ for the past fifty-six years having come to faith in him at age twelve. My wife and I have been married for over forty-two years and are still enjoying it as our relationship continues to grow incrementally. I have one wife and that is enough for me. I believe that marriage is one man and one woman united together in matrimony for one lifetime. That is God’s plan for human sexuality.

One film star, Robert Redford was asked how he managed to remain with his wife, Joanne Woodward, for so long. He replied, “Why should I go after junk food when I can have beef-steak?” Sexual promiscuity with its insecurity, uncertainty, and emotional roller-coaster quality can never beat a stable and loving marriage relationship.

My relationship with my wife is second only to my relationship with Jesus Christ. My relationship to my Saviour means all the world to me and heaven too. I would not trade it for the world nor for the flesh pots of a sensual lifestyle. All other relationships with people are at a comfortable distance and is appropriate. My confidence and trust is in God alone who has kept me and kept us all these years and continues to do so by his power.

I endeavour to pursue a path of moral and spiritual excellence. My goal is Jesus Christ as expressed in my life motto, For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain (Phil. 1:21). This means that Jesus Christ is my example, my life, and my power. He is my pattern, power, pursuit, and prize. I live by him, in him, through him, unto him, and for him. He abides in me and I in him.

For me Christianity is an ongoing relationship with Christ and not a mere short-term, feel-good religious experience. I am far from perfect; Christ is my perfection. He is made unto me wisdom righteousness, holiness and redemption. I am a sinful man, even as Paul intimated but like him I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ. (Phil. 3:14).

I work on issues in my life as they arise and do not give the birds a chance to lay eggs on my head. I take to the cross any sin that I am conscious of and make short-shrift of it. I want to have nothing between my soul and the Saviour so that his blessed face may be seen; not even habits of life though harmless they seem.

The reason why some people got offended by that prayer on Independence Day is because it was too specific and not politically correct. It struck some raw nerves. Those who were offended should have heard John the Baptist tell Herod that he was an adulterer. He lost his head for his pains. As for Jeremiah he called the people to repentance for their idolatry and immorality! He offended a king who cut up a message which he had sent to him and put out a warrant for his arrest.




They should have heard Micah and Amos: the latter described the society women of his day in terms I would not even dare to use. And most of all, they should have heard Jesus! He called the religious leaders of his day whited sepulchers and brood of snakes.

The prayer that was prayed was intended to seek God’s mercy on the sins which we are aware of and want to hide from ourselves and from him. I identify with the sins of my people for we share a corporate guilt. I pray for my nation regularly even as I pray for myself.

My petition was a plea for God’s mercy lest his judgment descend upon us. It was the expression of love for the nation rather than an attempt to be insulting. In our age no one likes to hear the truth except it be about someone else. Truth offends, and indeed it should for it is like the surgeon’s diagnosis which precedes the prescription and medication necessary to effect a cure.

The truth that offends men most is the truth about their sins. Those who love sin will not be happy with those who are haemaphobic (fear sin).

Psychiatrist Hobart Mowrer made the following comment on the issue of sin:

“For several decades we psychologists looked upon the whole matter of sin and moral accountability as a great incubus and acclaimed our liberation from it as epoch making. But at length we have discovered that to be free in this sense, that is, to have the excuse of being sick rather than sinful, is to court the danger of also becoming lost… In becoming amoral, ethically neutral and free, we have cut the very roots of our being, lost our deepest sense of self-hood and identity, and with neurotics, themselves, we find ourselves asking: Who am I, what is my deepest destiny, what does living mean?”

Mowrer was honest but other members of his profession laughed him to scorn for he had blown their cover. He committed suicide at age seventy-five, another in the long list of members of his profession who could not handle human depravity, something for which they have no solution because are living in denial.

You should have heard the way Harvard University students carried on when the renowned Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn gave a lecture in that noble institution on western moral decadence! The audience mocked and scoffed in a most disgraceful manner unworthy of America’s premier academy. They knew that he had exposed their own relativistic and bohemian lifestyle and they did not like it. Their attitude was evidently the last straw.

In his disillusionment with western moral decay the venerable author retired to his native land to end his days in peace. The moral prophet of the cold war era was gone.

Whenever a culture or civilisation begins to find truth offensive it has signed its death warrant. The morticians and grave-diggers had better get ready for a business-boom is up ahead. The rejection of truth is the swan-song of a dying society.

Forty civilisations and more lie buried beneath the sands of history because they had rejected truth and slid inexorably down the chute to their rendezvous with destiny. They have become the relics of that which once was and which might have been extant.

Dead civilizations are the stuff that is turned up by the archaeologist’s shovel and studied by future generations in their academic pursuits. This should be the cause of sober reflection on our part and a wake up call to change our ways. The voice of the prophet is the voice of God. We ignore it at our peril, we receive it for your profit.

Alfred Horsford

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