Opening Prayer: Father, we feel helpless to stop the spread of violence and corruption in our nation. Our government thumbs its corrupt nose at You and Your Word. Please show us what we can do to stem the tide of evil.
Let's start with a simple statement from Proverbs chapter 14, verse 34:Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.
Nothing controversial here. Normal folks find it easy to respect people that have strong morals, integrity and good work ethics. When a particular nation or ethnic group has strong, proven character, we can dismiss the inevitable moral weaklings as exceptions.
So when and how did this proud nation of ours become so dominated by moral weaklings? Aren't Americans supposed to be peaceful and honorable, even if a little eccentric?
We can no longer pretend to be a nation of peaceful, honorable people. Our TV and newspaper headlines speak of twin epidemics: raging violence and moral apathy. Decades of Supreme Court rulings have intentionally pushed prayer and the Bible out of our schools and legalized the ritual murder of the unborn. Our Federal government has become so corrupt that our reform-minded President (as of this writing in 2017) is under nonstop attack from the "swamp" dwellers in the bureaucracy, the legislature and the news media. Even in public schools, teachers are only permitted to be "values-neutral," to avoid lawsuits from groups with notably bad values. In fact, our public schools have been so corrupted by the Common Core and CScope programs that Marxist and anti-American propaganda are taught as self-righteous truth.
This unfortunate moral chaos is proof that elected leaders without personal integrity can't pretend to have any foundation for professional ethics or integrity.
So who's responsible for this mess?
Can we blame the violence in TV and movies? Can we blame the news media? What about the Pagan Left, the Christian Right, the Muddled Middle, the illegal immigrants or the Islamic terrorists? Has some network of lawless conspirators orchestrated all this?
Actually, none of the visible culprits are to blame here. And it's irrelevant whether any conspiracies exist or not. According to Scripture, God holds His people responsible for the moral health of a nation. If you call yourself one of His people, this means you.
"Who, me? Hey, I'm one of the good guys. I don't smoke or litter or drive in the carpool lane by myself, and don't even know any Congressmen. How could I be responsible for all the bad stuff you see in the papers every day?"
The truth is that God expects His people to set the moral tone of the nation. Furthermore, He expects His people to exert this influence whether they are a powerful majority or a persecuted minority of the population.
Let's open our Bibles to the book of 2 Chronicles, chapter 7, verse 14:If My people, who are called by My name, shall 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.
The context of this passage is important. The Lord appeared to King Solomon and spoke these words in response to the king's prayer at the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem. Much of Solomon's prayer concerns matters specific to Israel and the Temple. However, significant portions are relevant to all people and nations.
Solomon's prayer appears in parallel accounts in two books. Our first excerpt is from 1 Kings chapter 8, verses 28-30:28 Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, O LORD my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You today: 29 that Your eyes may be open toward this temple night and day, toward the place of which You said, 'My name shall be there,' that You may hear the prayer which Your servant makes toward this place. 30 And may You hear the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. Hear in heaven Your dwelling place; and when You hear, forgive.
The parallel account in 2 Chronicles chapter 6 has the above verses and some others that give insight, beginning with verse 24:24 "Or if Your people Israel are defeated before an enemy because they have sinned against You, and return and confess Your name, and pray and make supplication before You in this temple, 25 then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of Your people Israel, and bring them back to the land which You gave to them and their fathers. 26 "When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, when they pray toward this place and confess Your name, and turn from their sin because You afflict them, 27 then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of Your servants, Your people Israel, that You may teach them the good way in which they should walk; and send rain on Your land which You have given to Your people as an inheritance. 28 "When there is famine in the land, pestilence or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers; when their enemies besiege them in the land of their cities; whatever plague or whatever sickness there is; 29 whatever prayer, whatever supplication is made by anyone, or by all Your people Israel, when each one knows his own burden and his own grief, and spreads out his hands to this temple: 30 then hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know (for You alone know the hearts of the sons of men), 31 that they may fear You, to walk in Your ways as long as they live in the land which You gave to our fathers."
In those days, Solomon was still pretty wise. He knew the weakness of the human heart. He knew that people would sin (nothing has changed). He also knew that sin has consequences, both temporal and eternal. Solomon was too smart to stand before God and declare that he and his nation would be sinless and faithful, forever and ever, amen. Instead, he prayed for God to be gracious when God's people repented and turned their hearts back to Him.
Let's repeat the Lord's response to Solomon's prayer in 2 Chronicles 7, verse 14:If My people, who are called by My name, shall 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.
The Lord's response gives us important guidance:
- If My people... Again, let me state the obvious. In God's eyes, our nation's moral plight is not the fault of the politicians, the illegals, the terrorists, the drug cartels or the conspirators. Jesus made this point in the Sermon on the Mount, in the gospel of Matthew, chapter 5, verse 13:"Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men."
The Lord expects His people to enhance the flavor and retard the spoilage of a society in which they are greatly outnumbered. If you are not one of His people, you should make it a priority to become one. If you are one of His people, keep reading. There's work to do.
- ...who are called by My name... Do people know that you're a Christian or Jew without having to ask you? Have you earnestly sought to grow spiritually through prayer and Bible study? Have you earnestly sought the life-changing Fruit of the Holy Spirit? Can people sense the love of God in your life and character? If it's been months or years since anybody has commented "There's something different about you...", please keep reading.
- ...shall humble themselves... Do you feel morally superior to our elected officials? Then you disqualify yourself from effective prayer for them. The most effective intercessors in Scripture (Daniel, Jeremiah, Nehemiah etc.) began their prayers by grieving over the state of their nation and saying, "...WE have sinned and broken Your covenant..."
- ...and pray... There's no power in complaining or whining. Neither lawsuits nor impeachment proceedings have power to change wicked hearts. Only God has this type of power, and intercessory prayer moves Him to use it. For a brief refresher course on prayer, click here.
- ...and seek My face... Remember how our Lord taught the disciples to pray, beginning with, "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name." The first and most important part of prayer (after determining to actually do something) is to focus on the God to Whom we pray. If your heart doesn't naturally turn that direction (most of our hearts don't), I suggest starting with devotional Scripture readings. Try singing praise songs or reading Psalms out loud. Psalm 100 is often a good place to start:2 Serve the Lord with gladness: Come before His presence with singing. 3 Know ye that the Lord, He is God: It is He that hath made us, and we are His; We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. 4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise: Give thanks unto Him, and bless His name. 5 For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness endureth for ever, And His faithfulness unto all generations.Remember that prayer has a gate, and verse 4 above tells us how to enter in through that gate. If verse 4 is too subtle, click here to learn more about the Christian's duty to seek God's face.
- ...and turn from their wicked ways... If you have done everything right this far, you will understand just what the Lord meant by this. Once you start to seek the Lord's face, you become conscious of the immense difference between the Holy God and even the best of us "good" people. God is not "just like you and me but bigger." God is 100% holy; the human heart is naturally wicked and deceitful. Nobody has to teach us to be lazy or lustful or selfish. That's easy. Likewise, we can't act nobly or unselfishly without effort -- because our nature is constantly dragging us backward. If you feel like you've been pounded down by the pressures of this life, click here to learn how God can rebuild you better than new.
- ...then will I hear from heaven... If we've gotten this far, then we have already experienced change in ourselves. We've been moved to someplace better than when we started. And the Lord will be moved with compassion for us and for our nation. Remember the exhortation in the Apostle John's first epistle, chapter 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask any thing according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.The Scripture is very clear: God wants us to pray for revival. God wants us to be alive and awake in Him. So if we pray and align our hearts with His will, then all heaven will break loose.
- ...and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Never forget that the problem is sin. All other forms of pollution pale by comparison. Sin spreads its poison from person to person and generation to generation. We will all die from sin unless we receive God's forgiveness and healing. And the Lord loves to hear us pray for this type of forgiveness and healing. It's prayer that always gets a positive answer.
Closing Prayer: Lord, it has taken a very long time for me to realize how much I need to pray for our nation. Forgive me, Lord. We have sinned against You. Only You can touch our hearts and heal us. Have a Father's compassion on us we pray, in the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus. Amen.