Sunday, September 02, 2007

transforming america, step 2--prayer

Once we have ensured our salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, the next step we must take in the rebirth of our nation is to become praying Christians. Prayer is a wonderful gift from God to His children, yet, sadly, millions of Christians here and abroad haven’t accepted this gift. Think about it. God is the all-knowing, all-powerful, omnipresent Creator of the universe, and He desires to carry on a conversation with us! Like the most loving parent of all time, He wants us to come to Him with all of our needs, wants, fears, joys, sorrows, complaints, and thanks. God wants to carry on a never-ending, open-ended conversation with us for all eternity. How amazing is that? Why wouldn’t we want to spend our days and nights talking with our Holy Father, Friend, and Counselor?

Listen to these words from James 5:13-18---

"Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops."

Hebrews 4:16 says---

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

We are being invited into a never-ending dialogue with our God who will provide us with everything we will ever need!

If you’re a person who has never really had an active prayer life, don’t be nervous about starting. God will help you along. Start by sincerely telling God that you want to turn your life over to Him in prayer. Then, create a ritual for yourself by saying a short morning prayer when you wake up, a short mealtime prayer when you eat, and a short bedtime prayer.

Don’t know what to say? Try praying the scriptures. This means that you take a specific verse/passage from the Bible and thoughtfully, sincerely read that as your prayer. A great place to start is the Book of Psalms. The longest book in the Bible, Psalms is a collection of prayers, poems, and songs expressing the entire range of human emotion. Start with Psalm 136. As you prayerfully read, do so knowing that God will plant the words in your heart. As you begin to explore other parts of the Psalms, you will find that prayer becomes more and more natural as you practice more and more. As your prayer life matures, you will find yourself carrying on a continuous conversation with God. Just keep at it

The next step in a maturing prayer life is intercessory prayer, or prayer on behalf of others. This is what some Christians mean when they speak of being a "prayer warrior." You can’t show any greater love towards someone than by praying for God’s blessings upon them.

"He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; He seats them with princes, with the princes of their people. He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the Lord." (Psalm 113:7-9).

If we pray in faith with a humble spirit and a repentant heart, God will hear our prayers for others when we intercede on their behalf.

Do you agree with me that America needs our prayers? God’s people all across this land must prayerfully intercede on America’s behalf before God unleashes His wrath upon us. We, the citizens of the United States of America, have sinned greatly against God. We allow unborn children to be murdered and call it "choice". We celebrate pornography and perversion, and market that filth to our children. We glorify violence, and then wonder why violent crime is so prevalent. We fornicate like animals with no souls or consciences, trash our marriage vows, disrespect our spouses, treat our children as if they are disposable, and then wring our hands over the disintegration of the traditional family. We have insisted that there be no mention of God or His Son Jesus Christ in our public schools, we have allowed those same schools to drill the tenants of secular humanism into our children, and then we are completely shocked by school shootings, teenage pregnancy, teen suicide, and the like. Those of us who call ourselves Christians must become "prayer warriors" by waging a fervent campaign of prayer to turn the tide. We must plead with God to change our hearts, and cause us to look to Him and be saved. Only God can change a heart, and a change of heart is the only thing that will save us as a nation. We must pray for wisdom and discernment so that we might know God’s will. We must pray for God to claim the hearts of our children, their future spouses, and their future children and grandchildren. Satan is waging a savage war in an effort to enslave our children, and it is crucial that we ask God to clothe them in His protective armor. We must pray for our political and military leaders so that God’s will would be done through them.

Dr. Charles Stanley of In Touch Ministries has suggested ten ways that we can pray for the political and military leaders of our constitutional republic:

1. Pray that they would realize their personal sinfulness and their daily need for a cleansing of their sins by Jesus.
2. Pray that they would recognize their personal inadequacy to fulfill their tasks and that they would depend upon God for knowledge, wisdom, and the courage to do what is right.
3. Pray that they would reject all counsel that violates spiritual principles, trusting God to prove them right.
4. Pray that they would resist those who would pressure them to violate their conscience.
5. Pray that they would reverse the trends of socialism and humanism in this nation, both of which deify man rather than God.
6. Pray that they would be ready to sacrifice their personal ambitions and political careers for the sake of this nation, if yielding them would be in the best interest of their country.
7. Pray that they would rely on prayer and the Word of God as the source of their daily strength, wisdom and courage.
8. Pray that they would restore dignity, honor, trustworthiness, and righteousness to the office they hold.
9. Pray that they would remember to be good examples in their conduct to the fathers, mothers, and children of this nation.
10. Pray that they would be reminded daily that they are accountable to God for the decisions they make.

Remember 1 Corinthians 1:10 and what it has to say about Christian unity, because being a prayer warrior is best done in groups. I believe that every church in the nation should mobilize teams of prayer warriors who would agree to meet together once a week for an hour of fervent prayer for our nation. If you read Genesis 18, the account of Abraham pleading with God to save the city of Sodom, you can see how effective the prayers of one righteous man are. Imagine what the results would be from concentrated prayer coming from teams of committed prayer warriors all across the country!

I recently came across a quote from the great Civil War general, Robert E. Lee, which speaks to the importance of intercessory prayer. Lee’s message is amazingly relevant 130 years later. I’ll close with that quote:

"Knowing that intercessory prayer is our mightiest weapon and the supreme call for all Christians today, I pleadingly urge our people everywhere to pray. Believing that prayer is the greatest contribution that our people can make in this critical hour, I humbly urge that we take time to pray—to really pray. Let there be prayer at sunup, at noonday, at sundown, at midnight—all through the day. Let us all pray for our children, our youth, our aged, our pastors, our homes. Let us pray for our churches. Let us pray for ourselves, that we may not lose the word ‘concern’ out of our Christian vocabulary. Let us pray for our nation. Let us pray for those who have never known Jesus Christ and redeeming love, for moral forces everywhere, for our national leaders. Let prayer be our passion. Let prayer be our practice."


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