As I write this blog post it is National Day of Prayer. In 1775 the first national call to a day of prayer was issued at the First Continental Congress. The great Abraham Lincoln called on the nation for a day of prayer in 1863. And in 1952 Congress established a National Day of Prayer that was signed into law by President Harry Truman. I’m not one who holds our founding father up as Biblical heroes, but it is historical record that in our country our highest leaders have issued calls to prayer. What do we make of this?
Perhaps they were done as a political move to appease certain contingencies. Perhaps with an attitude of, “Well prayer can’t hurt.” And perhaps even some had little confidence that there is even a God who hears or that prayer is anything more than a religious catharsis for weak people. Participate in it … or don’t. But here’s what I know: The only hope for our country is God pouring out His Spirit in revival through a praying Church that is confidently resting on the finished work of Christ and holding high the authority of the Word of God. Don’t get me wrong … there are no formulas. But this isn’t a formula, it is desperate people who know they must obey their Creator and pray to the Lord of the harvest.
As a pastor I prefer speaking in Biblical language than speaking of prayer proclamations and national laws. So, here’s the Biblical term – Mission! It is not the mission of the Church to build bigger buildings, fill more seats, or provide great children’s programs. All those are good, but must never eclipse the grandest mission of all – Telling lost people that Jesus saves … and that Jesus alone saves!
I have no idea whatsoever what is going to happen in this upcoming general election. I have no confidence that our executive or legislative institutions are going to honor God and His Word. But I do know one thing – We MUST pray. We must hold praying for the mission of Christ in our land higher than our grumbling about our culture, critiquing our leaders, or sticking our heads in the sand as if God can’t show up and change it all. He can … and one day He will. Pray as Paul called the Ephesian church to pray – “keep alert with all perseverance … that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:18-19).
- Mark Spansel