As the U.S. federal government completes its fourth day of shutdown on Friday, chaplains of the Senate and House have encouraged members of congress to work past their differences to find a resolution to their current funding disagreement over the Affordable Health Care Act, also known as "Obamacare."
Senate Chaplain Barry Black, a Seventh Day Adventist who opens each morning's session with a prayer, has dedicated this week's prayers to finding an end to the government shutdown. On Thursday, Black prayed that God save members of Congress and Americans "from the madness" of the shutdown.
"Have mercy upon us, oh God, and save us from the madness," Black prayed Thursday morning. "We acknowledge our transgressions, our shortcomings, our smugness, our selfishness, and our pride. Create in us clean hearts, oh God, and renew a right spirit within us. Deliver us from the hypocrisy of attempting to sound reasonable while being unreasonable."
He continued, "Remove the burdens of those who are the collateral damage of this government shutdown, transforming negatives into positives as you work for the good of those who love you."
Several media outlets have noted that Black's prayers, although they usually remain apolitical, have taken a decidedly political tone since the shutdown began. Last Friday, when a government shutdown seemed imminent, Black prayed that God "keep us from shackling ourselves with the chains of dysfunction."
House Chaplain Father Patrick Conroy dedicated his opening prayer to the government shutdown the day it began on Tuesday, asking that Congress members remember the struggling American people as they work through the shutdown. "This is a painful day for many across our land, and the sense of disappointment deepens. May those who possess power here in the Capitol be mindful of those whom they represent who possess little or no power, and whose lives are made all the more difficult by a failure to work out serious differences," Conroy prayed.
"You know, Lord, what our needs are. Inspire the Members of this House to better serve not only their constituents, but the entire Nation, which looks with wavering hope to them for heroic leadership that benefits all," he added.
Faith leaders throughout the U.S. have joined the Congressional chaplains in praying for the government and the American people during the stalled time. The Rev. Kevin DeYoung of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Mich. tweeted on Monday: "Good news: The all-powerful, all-wise sovereign Governor of the universe is still open for business."
Eugene Cho, lead pastor of Quest Church in Seattle, Wash. tweeted on Monday: "Dear politicians: Please work together! [from] every single one of us."
On Tuesday, the U.S. government shut down for the first time in 17 years when members of Congress were unable to reach a solution on how to continue funding the federal government. Congress is disagreeing on the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, with Republicans arguing modifications need to be made to the law before it can go into effect, and Democrats arguing that the Act should not be modified as it has already been passed into law and upheld by the Supreme Court. According to NBC News, the federal shutdown costs about $1.6 billion a week, $300 million a day, or $12.5 million an hour.