A portion of the message that President John F. Kennedy intended to give at the Dallas Citizens Council on November 22nd, 1963 was memorialized at the 50th anniversary of his assassination in Dealey Plaza. He, of course, was never able to give that message.
The plaque in downtown Dallas in the plaza eerily reads: “We, in this country, in this generation, are — by destiny rather than by choice — the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of ‘peace on earth, good will toward men.’ That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago, ‘except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen waketh but in vain.’”
The watchmen in ancient Israel that JFK was referring to were either placed on a wall of a city, or in towers looking over pastures and flocks. The watchmen had a pivotal role in being on the lookout for danger, bringing preventive lifesaving awareness to issues.
Yet, this passage says that without God’s help, this most important job with significant responsibility is worthless.
What a call from a president of the United States to say that without God’s help, it is all vanity and that only by God's strength can we accomplish such needed goodwill toward all people.
The Dallas Night of Prayer at Munger Place Church is a call to anyone and everyone who believes that without God’s help our city builds in vain. It is a gathering to pray for the people, families, communities, and leadership of Dallas.
Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:1-6: “I, URGE, then first of all, that prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.”
The Scripture urges us to pray, intercede, and give thanks.
The Dallas Night of Prayer is an hour set aside to intentionally do just that; speaking to God (prayer), asking God for his will for families, neighborhoods, for all the people of Dallas—praying for others (intercession), and worship by lifting up our voices in praise and singing together with the best music we can muster, and will all our hearts (thanksgiving).
This activity done together is promised by God to do something mysterious, something miraculous—activate and advance God’s perfect will in our city and in the hearts of its people.
Prayer is a mystery—God choosing to bring his perfect will through the activity of prayer by his children. Yet, it is the vehicle by which God chooses to work in the world. Jesus told us to pray, "May your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
The people of Dallas have so many needs. There is brokenness all around us, seen and unseen. The will of God done in heaven is not done on earth, in Dallas, in fullness. It is, therefore, our responsibility to go to our Father on behalf of our city in prayer, not for ourselves, but for others. When we do this, we SHARE in the Holy Spirit’s work in the hearts of people. We LOVE FIRST, as we say around Munger.
Over the last month, an artist from our East Dallas community of faith has been slowly painting a skyline of Dallas, little by little.
Her work of art is featured on stage in the sanctuary at Munger Place Church. Our congregation has watched it be filled with color, gradually coming to life every Sunday. During our Night of Prayer, on September 27th, she will finish the painting.
This is a metaphor of what prayer is like. We cannot see all the answers immediately, sometimes in a lifetime, yet we can know by faith that God is painting a city he dreams of, through his artists; his people who pray. He is filling in the need, painting a new life, healing brokenness, and giving us a vision of what can be for our families, communities, and city.
As John F. Kennedy was set to say to Dallas, “We…in this generation are—by destiny rather than by choice — the watchmen on the walls…”
Will you join us in giving God thanks for our city and praying for it?