Christians should be among those most deeply concerned about the divided state of our nation. Left vs. right, masks vs. no masks, reopen vs. stay-at-home, virtual school vs. in-person, race, politics, police, abortion, religious liberty - not to mention the remainder of what's certain to be a brutal presidential campaign.
The issues range from essential to nonessential. On the essential matters, we mourn and vow to fight deception. On the nonessential matters, we mourn and hope to overcome division. God's people can neither stay on the sidelines nor run away from the struggle. Instead, knowing there is no hope outside of Christ, we ask God to mercifully and powerfully mobilize his people to advance the true and good.
If Christians are to speak with clarity, courage and confidence and be voices of truth and love in a world of noise and echo chambers, we will need to be prepared. But even perfectly crafted arguments cannot replace, as Chuck Colson said, "the church being the church." Speaking cannot replace being. To be the people God calls us to be, we must rely on prayer.
Each Wednesday morning Aug. 12 through Nov. 4, which is the morning after the 2020 election, the Colson Center will host a national prayer time, via webinar. We invite you to join us, each week, to pray first and foremost for God's mercy, that he would revive his church, that he would bring about renewal of righteousness, that he would empower us to courageously offer protection for the most vulnerable, to champion reconciliation across our deepest divides, and that he would allow us to be instruments in the sustaining of religious freedom and the national recovery of the family.
Each prayer time will feature a devotional challenge and prayer by Christian leaders such as Os Guinness, Joni Eareckson Tada, Focus on the Family president Jim Daly, Woodside Bible pastor Chris Brooks and Watermark Church pastor Todd Wagner, as well as Ed Stetzer from the Billy Graham Center and Heritage Foundation president Kay Cole James.
Due to Zoom capacity, there will be limited live spots each week available to all who register. However, each week's recording will be sent to anyone who signs up. Come to BreakPoint.org for more details.
In Ephesians, Paul tells us "we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." When people see us as their enemies, it's difficult to remember they aren't our enemies.
We can only, as Paul instructs, put on the full armor of God - faith, truth, righteousness, peace, salvation and the word of God - "praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication ... keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints" (v. 18).
According to the book of Acts, the earliest church activity was prayer. Thousands of people, from completely different backgrounds, came together in one mind and one heart in prayer "with one accord" (Acts 1:14; 2:42–47). What happened? The Holy Spirit moved, and the world was never the same.
Every spiritual revolution in history started with this kind of unified, persevering prayer. From the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts to the Great Awakenings to the Businessman's Revival to the Welsh Revival, in story after story, we hear the same thing. People prayed and God's Spirit moved. On the other hand, every Christian in history who persevered in righteousness, despite temptation or persecution, did so through prayer.
Our prayer cannot force God's hand, of course. But our only way forward is to seek his will together. Our prayers don't control God, but rather invite him in to change hearts and minds, including our own. God is always working in our lives whether we realize it or not, but something powerful and world-changing happens when people pray for God's Spirit to move.
The great Jonathan Edwards urged his fellow pastors to "be much in prayer and fasting, both in secret and with one another. ... [I]t is God's will that the prayers of his saints shall be great and the principal means of carrying on the designs of Christ's Kingdom in the world. When God has something to accomplish for his church, it is with his will that there should precede it the extraordinary prayer of His people."
Paul tell us to pray for all things at all times (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and specifically to pray for our leaders, both spiritual and secular. This is what the world needs from the Church right now, instead of the outrage we are too often known for. So that's what we will do, together, each Wednesday until the election. I hope you will join us.
From BreakPoint, Aug. 6, 2020; reprinted by permission of the Colson Center, www.breakpoint.org.