For Only 57 Cents?

Poor Mary Barra, the new CEO of General Motors. On Capitol Hill for a grilling by a House subcommittee this week, what could she say? Since February GM has recalled 2.6 million cars because of a faulty ignition switch. As it turns out thirteen deaths are now attributed to the defective switch, “which can cause the engine to cut off in traffic, disabling the power steering, power brakes and air bags and making it difficult to control the vehicle” (South Bend Tribune 4-2-14). Thirteen deaths, 2.6 million automobiles recalled—all because of a small switch. Engineers, according to company records, knew about the defective switch back in 2005 but management concluded that the costs for replacing the switch were not “an acceptable business case” (i.e., it cost too much money). The cost of a replacement switch? 57 cents (plus labor). Thirteen deaths and a 2.6 million vehicle recall later is there anybody that still thinks 57 cents was too much? I’m amazed at the notion that in the battle over addiction (the theme of our pulpit series this month), the strategy of prayer is so easily dismissed as a two-bit panacea that really can’t handle the big guns of addiction. And yet leave that 57-cent piece out of the equation, and look at the personal mayhem and heartache that have accumulated as a result. Nobody is suggesting that the simple (but profoundly powerful) act of prayer is all anybody needs to break the back of a life-enslaving addiction (be it drugs, alcohol, sex, nicotine, food, gaming, et al). Mental health professionals recommend an arsenal of strategies and therapies for those who seek to break their addictions—from Twelve Step group therapy to counseling to volunteer community service to medical treatment and more. But it is no coincidence that in the battle against addiction there is amazing unanimity regarding the power of personal prayer or, as the Wall Street Journal put it a few days ago, the power of “frequent involvement in spiritual activities” (3-28-14 A11). So simple, so inexpensive, yet so often dismissed. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you” (James 4:7-8). So simple, so inexpensive, but so potentially life-altering, life-saving. So in your own private battle with addiction, go ahead, take advantage of the large arsenal available today for healing. But whatever you do, do not omit prayer. To make prayer possible it cost God the most expensive enterprise in the universe. And yet for less than 57 cents, you can turn the key in prayer’s ignition every single day, and put your faith in touch with the only One with power enough to set you free. Forever.