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Interceding for America: Two Points in Prayer

Interceding for America: Two Points in Prayer

Many American citizens are grieved over the corrupt politicians and lack of representation in our government, especially after recent legislation that defied the will of the people. To the sleeping nation, it feels as though we lost America and our blood bought freedoms overnight.  However, unless we truly repent and pray for our nation, things will only worsen.

After I posted to facebook about our need to repent and pray for the nation, a friend commented asking how she is to pray and “repent for our government:” “I want to make sure I’m praying correctly,” she said. “And I don’t know what to do to repent when [my husband’s and my] votes are carefully researched and prayed over before they are cast. I just want to make sure we’re praying well and doing all we can through the Lord for the U.S.”

My friend raised an excellent point. We need even more specific guides in prayer.  Here in the Concert of Prayer related posts, we have been focusing, and will continue to focus, on specific ways that we can pray for our nation.

Today we will pray for two things — and with each, pray broadly (for the Church at large, for the Church in your community and for your local church) and personally (apply it to your own life):

1. God, Give us Your Spirit of Prayer

“I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a sprit of grace and supplication” (Zech. 12:10, emphasis added).

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of prayer.  Twice Paul refers to Him in reference to prayer. “Ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15). “God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (Ga. 4:6). One of these passages says, “we cry”; the other, “He cries.” In reference to this, Andrew Murray says “there is blending of the divine and human cooperation in prayer.” [i]

It is the Holy Spirit who prays and by Whom we pray. We are helpless to pray without an enabling of the Holy Spirit. We must have the Spirit of supplication! If there is going to be a returning to God, it must begin with prayer.

“From the day of Pentecost, there has been not one great spiritual awakening in any land which has not begun in a union of prayer, though only among two or three; no such outward, upward movement has continued after such prayer meetings declined” – Dr. A.T. Pierson

Prayerlessness is more than mere neglect.

Prayerlessness is a sin. It is not neglect, or lack of spiritual appetite, or mere boredom. Prayer is not extra obedience for which you obtain bonus points if you follow through, but for which there will be no judgment or consequences if you fail to exercise. In I Samuel 12:23, God calls prayerlessness sin: “God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you.” God commanded that men ought always to pray and faint not. God says, “Ask of me.” Therefore, to be prayerless is to fail God. Prayerlessness is sin.

Prayerlessness and the Church

Sadly, prayer is almost absent in the Church today – both in our corporate lives and our personal lives as Believers. In Revival Praying, Leonard Ravenhill writes,

“Isn’t it pitiable, regrettable, and indefensible that we try to operate almost all our churches on one ‘sweet hour of prayer’? Yet in actuality, that sweet ‘hour’ is much taken up with Bible study. There certainly has to be Scripture read so that faith may be generated (Rom. 10:17) and we may have God’s promises as a foundation for prayer. But after all, the prayer meeting is a prayer meeting. The fact that far too many churches are combining the prayer meeting with a Bible study is the church’s self-acknowledged prayer weakness. In short, the church is saying that it can not hold out in prayer, so it fills in the time with Bible study. Yet no church these days can operate on one hour of prayer a week, let alone on the half hour we are giving collectively to intercession. “ [ii]

Since last Fall, I have been privileged to participate in all-night prayer meetings on Friday evenings. Don’t let the term “prayer meeting” fool you. This has been unlike any prayer meeting in which I’ve ever participated. We have seen God move and answer our prayers in miraculous ways. But apart from any answers, the prayer itself is an answer, a miracle! I have lain prostrate on the floor weeping, groaning in prayer like I have never wept and prayed before. It is absolutely amazing how the Holy Spirit will be guiding one of us to pray, and before we utter the words, another begins praying aloud the same thought. Hours on end the anointing remains. This kind of Spirit-led prayer is a gift from God, no doubt. But it wouldn’t exist if one woman hadn’t responded to God’s call to start an all-night prayer meeting – a night of prayer with no time constraints.

My best friend and her late husband actually had the privilege of going to Bible studies and prayer meetings led by Leonard Ravenhill. They must have been governed by the Holy Spirit, full of depth. In a Revival Forum Interview for pastors, Ravenhill describes his prayer meetings and the fact that men drove hundreds of miles (one-way) to participate. I would have too!  In Revival Praying, he continues:

“If the Holy Spirit is power, we need to learn how to operate the throttle. And if the Holy Spirit is a Person (and He is), then we really need to learn how to let Him operate us. I admit to being resentful when some soul, uninstructed in the Holy Spirit, suddenly closes a prayer meeting that very obviously the Spirit has in control. How can shrinking flesh be so stupid? We cannot turn the Holy Spirit on and off with the lights of the sanctuary. If [the President] invited us to hear him give a speech, would we dare leave his presence on any given impulse? We often presume upon Christ’s promise connected with ‘two or three gathered together in [His] name’ because if we were gathered ‘in His name,’ then we would be gathered by His Spirit. I feel deeply that we trifle with the Holy Ghost even in prayer. What a trivial round of petitions we get in the average prayer meeting!”[iii]

May God truly impart His Spirit of grace and supplication. May we receive Him – without grieving, quenching, limiting and stifling Him!

Characteristics of Prayer: Praying by the Spirit of Supplication

Prayer—protracted prayer, groaning prayer, fasting prayer, weeping prayer, speechless prayer—belongs to those initiated into a spirit of prayer, that is, into ‘praying in the Holy Ghost.’ To the uninstructed, terms like these mean ‘works.’ But praying friend, faint not; such critics may yet learn. In the languages of Horatius Bonar it may be said of protracted, groaning, speechless prayer, ‘It is the way the Master went. Should not the servant tread it still?[iv]

Jesus, our Master and Teacher, lingered in prayer, weeping, groaning, listening. Has this kind of prayer been present in your day today? Your week? Your month? Is it present in your church body? Beloved, if it isn’t, I urge you to prayerfully consider beginning a prayer group where this kind of prayer is present. What if God called you for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14)

“The prayer chamber is a mirror reflecting our spiritual condition. Is this why the prayer chamber is so unpopular? Do we fear self-exposure, exposure of ourselves to ourselves? Are we afraid of discovering spiritual deformity within us? The prayer chamber is the place to check up on spiritual health. Do we shun the prayer chamber lest we discover the cancer of carnality within? The prayer chamber is as a balance where we find out whether or not we are losing weight in the spiritual life. I am not thinking here of the matter of saying prayers but of those saints who not only ‘stay to pray’ but who stay to listen to what God has to say to them (as well as expect God to listen to what they have to say to Him).” [v]

May we enter the prayer chamber on behalf of ourselves, our families, our communities and our nation.

2. God, We Choose to Repent

Why the wording “choose” to repent? We could ask God to give us repentance, or lead us and enable us to repent…but He has been doing this for years. Ministry leaders and lay people across this nation are feeling a burden and call to prayer and repentance like never before, myself included. This is evidence of the Holy Spirit leading, enabling and giving us the gift of repentance. Now, it is up to us to choose, by an act of our will, to repent. May we in the body of Christ choose repentance.

To answer my Facebook friend, what is occurring in America is not the result of a specific vote, but of the unfaithfulness and rebellion of Christians over time. God is too loving to withdraw corrective judgment. He lovingly judged Israel & Judah in Scripture because of their unfaithfulness, rebellion and idolatry. And it ultimately brought them back to Him. If we don’t believe God will judge America, we are deceived.

Upset Over Health Care Legislation?

Many are upset over the healthcare legislation and the extreme step toward socialism and the shift in our nation that it represents. But unless we have a true, deep, lasting spiritual awakening in America, this will be mild compared to the hard times, destruction and changes to come. As a people, our actions bring consequences, whether good or bad.

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Pr. 14:34).

God is sovereign and holy. He cannot bless a nation that has turned away from Him.

America’s Cup of Iniquity is Overflowing

Since Roe v. Wade in 1973, we have murdered over 50 million babies. Scripture tells us that the shedding of innocent blood pollutes the land (Nu. 35:33). Television programs are full of commercials with mournful music designed to sicken us over the mistreatment of animals; yet we give no thought at all – not a speck of remorse – to the murder of unborn human beings.  Those who mistreat animals are punished while those who who murder unborn humans are celebrated and revered.

Our government leaders promote abortion, homosexuality and the premise that government is our god, our rights come from it, and in the end, government, not God, is to be feared.

The current administration has honored the Muslim day of prayer, homosexual activists and a coalition of atheists, but refuses to honor the National Day of Prayer. In all levels of government – from the President and Congress to activist judges – there is no regard for God’s Word.

As a society of people, we have become immoral, vain, lovers of self who blindly embrace a culture of death, perversion and secular humanism. Only 4% of young people today have a Biblical worldview.

The Church must be the first to turn to God in repentance.

The Church in America wants to point the finger of blame to the “world,” but we, the Church, must be the first to turn to God in repentance. The problem lies within the church. If the Church in America was the salt and light God has called and equipped it to be, America and its politicians would not be where we are today. We left our first love long ago. Repentance must begin in the Church.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chr. 7:14, emphasis added).

The materialism, self-help sermons, pretending and pride of the Church need to be forsaken for worn knees, cried out eyes, entire nights and days spent in prayer, prophetic messages delivered under the power of God and an utter requirement for the Holy Spirit. The Church has grown cold. Oh yes, we gather by the millions every Sunday…leaving church buildings as cold, lukewarm and influenced by the devil as we came. I am speaking for myself too. I am guilty of all of the above.

God is trying to get the attention of the Church in America, not the politicians.

I am outraged at the policies of our government and the corruption of our politicians. Yes, I am in favor of protest and participation in the political process, but no amount of political involvement can reverse the negative consequences – the judgment of God – our actions have accrued. God is trying to get the attention of the Church in America, not the politicians. If you want to influence the future of our country, PRAY! REPENT! PLEAD FOR SPIRITUAL AWAKENING!

We Christians in America have committed the same two sins that the people of Judah committed:

“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water…return to me oh faithless ones and I will heal your faithlessness” (Jer. 2:13).

Yet, out of His love and mercy, God extended an invitation to Judah. He gave them one last opportunity to repent.

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable thing you do not know” (Jer. 33:3).

The houses and royal palaces of Judah had been torn down to be used against the siege ramps of the Babylonians. Yet, the people of Judah remained hard hearted. They did not repent and were taken into captivity as a result.

Like Judah, America is under siege – a siege of our own making.

America is under siege – a siege of our own making. Though it has taken on political proportions, it is first and foremost a spiritual problem. It began because of spiritual rebellion and will be ameliorated only by spiritual awakening. As God said of Judah, it could be said of us:

“Have you not brought this on yourselves by forsaking the LORD your God when he led you in the way?” (Jer. 2:17).

Wake up, Church! Wake up!

Americans are now waking up to the atrocities that are taking place politically. This is a good thing, but are we in the Church waking up to our spiritual condition? Are our eyes being opened to the complacency we have adopted? Are we alarmed at the loss of our savor as salt? Are we grieved over the darkness that has replaced our light?

“John Greenleaf Whittier stood in speechless wonder gazing at Niagara Falls. He marveled at the milky cataract as it hurled itself down into the canyon below and was amazed at the thunder of its waters. But he was yet more astonished when an Indian plucked his sleeve and said, ‘An enemy is coming!’

“How do you know?” asked Whittier.

“Because,” replied the warrior, “I heard a twig break.” John Whittier had heard nothing but the thundering of the waters, yet the sensitive ears of the alert hunter had heard the snapping of a twig above the roar of the raging waters.[vi]

As Christians, we must have such a tender ear toward the Holy Spirit and the mind of God that we hear the twig break. The enemy is coming; the siege is long underway. Unfortunately, the majority of Christians have been attune only to the overriding sounds – preoccupation with prosperity and materialism; the supposed longevity of a nation and its freedoms that seem forever invincible; the busyness of the day.

What a day! Doomsday! God’s judgment has come. The strong God has arrived. This is serious business! … Shake the country up! God’s judgment’s on its way – the Day’s almost here! (Joel 1:15, 2:1; The Message)

How do we repent?

Like Daniel, we are to weep, mourn, repent and confess as if we have personally committed the sins so prevalent in our nation. Daniel said,

“WE have sinned and done wrong. WE have been wicked and rebelled. WE have turned away from your commands and laws.  Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us, yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. The LORD did not hesitate to bring the disaster upon us, for the LORD our God is righteous…” Daniel 9:6,13

God is a God of mercy. He longs to bring spiritual awakening to America. He longs to truly revive us!  But He won’t send His Spirit to a proud, stiff-necked people. We must come to God humbly, fasting and weeping, changing our lives from the inside out. No more “going-through-the-motions” kind of Christianity.

“But there’s also this, it’s not too late—God’s personal Message! Come back to me and really mean it! Come fasting and weeping, sorry for your sins!  Change your life, not just your clothes. Come back to God, your God. And here’s why: God  is kind and merciful. He takes a deep breath, puts up with a lot. This most patient God, extravagant in love, always ready to cancel catastrophe. Who knows? Maybe he’ll do it now, maybe he’ll turn around and show pity. Maybe, when all’s said and done, there’ll be blessings full and robust from your God! (Joel 2:12-14; The Message)

Question: Why do we so readily forfeit the Spirit of Prayer and Repentance—putting all else first, prayer and repentance last?

 


[i] Andrew Murray, Andrew Murray on Prayer (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 1998), 180

[ii] Leonard Ravenhill, Revival Praying (Bloomington, MN: Bethany House, 2003), 53-54

[iii] Ibid., 58

[iv] Ibid., 53

[v] Ibid., 139

[vi] Ibid., 137

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