Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
A Community of Prayer Champions, Praying Churches, Prayed-for Communities
This discussion is being added to feature various resources to help Pray.Network members pray for America. Websites, prayer guides, books, and events will be featured here. Some will be repeated in other areas of Pray.Network; but this discussion is meant to gather all these resources together as a starting point for those interested in praying deeply for the United States. We invite all those who are interested to visit the websites and check out the other resources posted here!
I think it does, but since that prayer campaign is in progress, I thought I'd just keep that intact for this year and then start the 2017 prayer discussion here next year. I actually believe we could probably combine a number of groups into this one to help people find things more easily - kind of a "one-stop-shop" for praying for the United States. What do you think?
As One is a national call to prayer. The basic strategy revolves around two 40-day periods of prayer walking, fasting, and corporate prayer events. The first will start on Easter Sunday, March 27 and run through the National Day of Prayer on May 5. The second begins on September 30 and ends on Election Day. In addition, there will be much collaboration with major national prayer events that are happening throughout the year.
This is how the As One website introduces its strategy and mission. The As One website is rich in resources to help prayer for our country, including prayer guides, articles, and an event list - as well as links to Prayer Connect magazine and to Harvest Prayer Ministries Prayer Shop website. Contributions from Dave Butts, Shirley Dobson, and others are available on the website.
We plan to feature a prayer blog in this group around the two 40-day periods of prayer. You can find a prayer guide for the first prayer period on the website. You can also sign up to receive the prayer guide via e-mail each day of the 40 days. We invite you to join us in prayer!
With permission from the publisher of Prayer Connect, we add content from their 25th issue to this discussion. The publishers have made this edition of Prayer Connect publicly available online due to the important nature of the topic of prayer for our elections. We felt it was a good addition to the resources in this discussion.
Over the next few days, I'll be excerpting specific articles (again, permission granted) and copying them into this discussion as replies to this entry. Meantime, I encourage everyone to click on the image - it will take you to the PC website where you can access all the articles at any time.
We hope you will find these articles useful and inspirational as you pray over the direction of this country's future and especially as you pray for this year's elections.
I was just out of college and relatively inexperienced as a leader when the chairman of my church’s elder board asked me to facilitate a small group discussion about the proposed budget. I was a bit intimidated as I sat in a group of about 15 people—all of them older than I was.
As I invited people’s input, we began a rather friendly discussion. But then it turned hostile when a couple began complaining about things that weren’t even connected to the budget. They had strong, negative opinions about all areas of our church’s ministry—from the worship to the preaching to which missionaries we supported. I didn’t know the couple well, but I couldn’t think of any way they were involved in the church apart from attendance.
I was unsure of what to do as they brought up issue after issue that concerned them. Suddenly the husband let it slip that—because of their discontent—they chose not to tithe to the church. They instead gave their money to other missions.
Perhaps it was my youthfulness and inexperience, but I blurted out, “Hey, wait a minute. Are you saying you do not support this church in any way?”
“No, we don’t,” he confessed.
“You mean, nothing?” I asked incredulously.
“Well, no,” he said, starting to sound sheepish.
“Nothing?” I repeated in disbelief.
I didn't mean to make a point, but apparently I did. They both suddenly got very quiet—and we moved on with the discussion among the rest of the group.
I still remember how stunned I was to hear these people complain and demand changes even though they did not serve the church in any way. They thought they should have a voice. But, in fact, they were merely observers and critics of the ministry going on around them.
I see a parallel when it comes to having a voice in the direction our nation is headed. Most of us have deep concerns about what we see in politics, culture, families, and other societal struggles. In our discontent, we want to see change.
But are we engaged in that change process?
First and foremost, are we praying—truly praying—for our leaders, that they might have humble hearts and wisdom from God? If we do not follow Paul’s instructions in 1 Timothy 2:1–2 to put our leaders at the top of our prayer list, we should not be surprised when our nation is in turmoil.
Second, are we exercising our voices in the right way by voting and participating in the political process? It matters who leads our nation. Both prayer and action are crucial responsibilities of every believer.
In this issue, Joel Rosenberg writes about our need for a Josiah—someone who will step into leadership with a heart tuned to God’s will and purposes. He notes that we are quickly headed toward implosion, but there is always hope when believers humble themselves in repentant prayer. Lea Carawan reminds us that we have a history of trusting God in this nation and that we should not hold back in praying boldly for redirection. Dave Butts provides scriptural ways to pray effectively regarding the upcoming elections.
I believe there is still hope for our nation. Every day I pray for revival and spiritual awakening. We are commanded to pray. We must pray—instead of just complaining about what we see happening without investing in change through prayer and action. This nation needs every believer to be engaged and confident in Jesus’ power to change everything.
--CAROL MADISON is editor of Prayer Connect.
America is heading toward implosion. Judgment is coming. We cannot avoid it. The best we can hope for is that God in His sovereignty chooses to forestall His judgment, much like He did for the nation of Judah when He raised up a leader like King Josiah. Let me explain.
Since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion, Americans have murdered more than 58 million babies. If we don’t radically change course, in a few years we will have murdered 60 million babies. If we cross that threshold, God forbid, we as Americans will have killed ten times more human beings than the number of Jews killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust. Do we think we will escape judgment when our sins are ten times worse? The blood of these children cries out from the ground for justice.
Yet abortion is not our only national sin. We have five Supreme Court justices who have decided that the Bible is wrong and that they know better than God what the definition of marriage should be. We have a national debt that has soared past $18 trillion. We have a tragic epidemic of murder, rape, and other violent crime, as well as out-of-control drug abuse and pornography.
What’s more, we have a president who is steadily—tragically—turning against the State of Israel and the Jewish people in defiance of Genesis 12:3, in which God says, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.”
God will not be mocked. We will reap what we sow. It’s not a matter of if, but when.
Wherever I go, people ask me, “Is there any hope for America?”
My answer is yes, but we’re running out of time. God in His great power could pour out His Holy Spirit upon our nation and grant us another series of sweeping spiritual revivals throughout the Church and another Great Awakening among the lost. He did it in the early 1700s. Millions repented and gave their lives wholly and completely to Christ. He did it again in the early- and mid-1800s. Tens of millions of Americans turned to Christ, and the nation was transformed.
Imagine Christians, en masse, truly repenting of our sins and our nation’s sins. Imagine us truly humbling ourselves and pleading with the Lord to pour out His Holy Spirit to radically transform us so we’re faithfully walking with the Lord again. I’m talking about sustained, consistent pleading with the Lord to have mercy on a nation that is on the fast track to implosion.
I have no doubt the Lord would respond by granting us another game-changing Great Awakening. As the pastor who discipled my wife and me used to say, “Our God is a prayer-hearing and prayer-answering God, a wonder-working God!”
Imagine, too, American Christians truly humbling ourselves and praying and fasting and earnestly seeking the Lord’s counsel in every area of life—including who should lead our government.
Imagine registering tens of millions of previously apathetic Christians to vote, and then voting at every government level for leaders who really love the Lord and are deeply committed to restoring the U.S. Constitution to its central place in American governance.
The Lord declared this to the nation of Israel: “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 I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14).
Though a specific promise to Israel, this passage also lays out universal principles of national repentance and restoration—principles that reveal God’s heart and His character. He wants to redeem a nation willing to repent. That’s why the Lord said this, through Jeremiah, about all nations: “If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned” (Jer. 18:7–8).
Ultimately, revivals and Great Awakenings are sovereign acts of our Almighty God. Still, human leadership matters. God responds to the prayers of men and women. That’s why we need pastors and elders and other spiritual leaders consistently calling the Church to prayer and repentance.
Likewise, we need government leaders who have the courage to turn this ship of state around, to go in the right direction again. This is why for the past year I have been preaching all over the country that America urgently needs a Josiah.
Read carefully through 2 Kings 22–23 and 2 Chronicles 34–35, and you will find a dark time in Jewish history. Hebrew prophets like Jeremiah were warning the leaders and people of Jerusalem and Judah of imminent judgment. Why? Because they refused to read, listen to, or obey the Word of God. Yet in 640 B.C., the Lord mercifully raised up Josiah, a leader who came to love the Lord his God and to love His Word. Josiah became ready, willing, and able to pursue big changes for a nation in big trouble.
As a result of Josiah’s humble yet courageous leadership, God chose to forestall the coming judgment for more than two decades. Indeed, during Josiah’s tenure, the Jewish people experienced one of the greatest periods of repentance, reform, and revival in their history. Oh, that America would experience the same! Josiah was not raised in a God-fearing home. His grandfather was Manasseh, the most wicked king in the history of Judah (2 Kings 21:1–18), and his evil ways triggered the certain coming judgment of Judah. Josiah’s father was Amon, another wicked king of Judah (2 Kings 21:21-23), who was assassinated after only two years on the throne.
Josiah became king at age eight! He had no idea how to lead, but God planned to do a great work in his life. At 16, the Bible says, Josiah “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed the ways of his father David” (2 Chron. 34:2). At 20, Josiah began to purge Judah of the idols and altars and places of false worship. At about 26, Josiah directed the high priest Hilkiah to hire workers to clean up and repair the temple in Jerusalem (2 Chron. 34:3–13).
At this time, a lost copy of “the Book of the Law” given by Moses was found in the temple. When King Josiah learned of this, he asked that it be read to him. “When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. He gave these orders to [his servants], ‘Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book’” (2 Kings 22:8–13).
Hearing the Word of God had a powerful impact on Josiah. He suddenly understood that though he was making some important reforms, much more remained to get the nation headed in the right direction. He understood that Judah faced enormous consequences for its long path of sin and rebellion. Judgment was coming. So Josiah asked his advisors to seek the Lord to find out whether there was any way to avoid cataclysmic judgment.
Sadly, the high priest did not know the Lord well enough to seek a word from Him directly. So Hilkiah sought out a true servant of God, a prophetess named Huldah, who was living in Jerusalem (2 Chron. 34:20–22).
This is the message Josiah received from the Lord: Judgment is coming to the nation because the people have turned against the Lord and His Word. The judgment is deserved, it is certain, it will come to pass, and nothing can be done to stop it.
The Lord said, “I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people, according to everything written in the book the king of Judah has read. Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and aroused my anger by all the idols their hands have made, my anger will burn against this place and will not be quenched” (2 Kings 22:16–17).
But then the Lord gave Josiah words of hope: “Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken against this place and against its people . . . I also have heard you. . . . Therefore I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place” (2 Kings 22:19–20).
God in His great mercy, sovereignly chose to delay the certain coming judgment until after Josiah’s death. So Josiah, emboldened by God’s promises, demonstrated tremendous courage, making one bold reform after another, leading his nation in the right way.
When Josiah passed away, however, new leaders emerged, and, tragically, they turned away from the Lord and led the people astray. Finally, judgment—though forestalled—came to Judah in 586 B.C. The Babylonian army destroyed Jerusalem and the temple just as Jeremiah prophesied.
Some might ask, “So what? What does the life of Josiah—who lived thousands of years ago—have to do with me today?”
As the 2016 presidential campaign heats up, we urgently need the Lord to raise up a leader like Josiah. Will He? I don’t know. But we need to ask Him to. So I’m asking the Lord to raise up a national leader who knows Christ personally and loves Him deeply, a leader passionate about reading and following God’s Word, a leader who wants to see a Great Awakening and revival, a leader who has the vision, plans, and courage to make bold, serious, sweeping reforms to get America back on the right course.
To be clear, I’m not looking for a pastor-in-chief nor a theologian-in-chief, to be president of the United States. America is a democratic republic, not a theocracy. The role of the American president isn’t the same as the role of king in the days of Judah.
But the Church’s job is to call followers of Christ to pray, fast, and repent, to love the Lord and love others, to preach the gospel, to teach and obey the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27, ESV), to make disciples of all nations, and to lead a great moral and spiritual revival. Only the Church can do this.
The American president’s job is not to impose the Bible on the nation but to follow the U.S. Constitution, to make bold reforms in keeping with the spirit and letter of our founding documents, and to execute the laws of the land with wisdom and discernment. The mission of the commander-in-chief is to protect the safety and freedom of the American people and, in a time of great peril and volatility, to lead the free world to victory over evil and tyranny. The role of the nation’s chief executive is to protect our God-given rights and liberties (starting with the right to life), create optimum conditions for economic growth and opportunity, and appoint judges and Supreme Court justices who will follow the Constitution.
Obviously, a president cannot preach the gospel to the nation or impose religious faith on the nation. But a president and his (or her) family can set a moral example. He can be friendly to people of faith and be a champion of religious liberty. The president can—and should—use what Teddy Roosevelt called the "bully pulpit" to speak to the nation about the importance of marriage and raising children. He can also call the nation to prayer and fasting in times of national crisis, just as great presidents like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Ronald Reagan did.
America is in deep trouble. We’re heading for implosion. Judgment is coming. Yet Scripture gives us hope. The Word of God makes it clear that God in His mercy and sovereignty could grant us a great spiritual awakening and raise up a leader like Josiah. In so doing, the Lord could choose not to cancel the coming judgment, but to forestall it.
This is what I am earnestly, desperately pleading for Him to do. Time is short, and the stakes are high, so I pray you are doing the same.
JOEL C. ROSENBERG is a New York Times best-selling author of fiction and nonfiction books, including Implosion: Can America Recover from Its Economic and Spiritual Challenges in Time? (joelrosenberg.com).
For too long, people of faith have relinquished their God-given influence in prayer, at the voting booth, and in the public arena or marketplace of ideas. Many may feel insignificant, discouraged, and disempowered in the democratic process.
However, the reality is that the Church still has an important role to play. Our country’s founders created a form of government for the people and by the people. This means we, as members of our society, have the privilege and responsibility to be actively engaged, especially when our nation’s future hangs in the balance.
Countless citizens across the country have grown weary of wayward politicians who fall far short of the expectations and standards set by the God-honoring leaders in America’s past. Yet many statesmen and stateswomen continue to hold high the banner of integrity. They love their country, love their Lord, and love the ideals upon which the United States was founded. Those who model a genuine faith and do not succumb to the pressures and temptations that come with holding public office are the ones most willing and able to make tough decisions, putting us back on course.
These individuals are deeply committed to American exceptionalism and the awareness that God’s favor and blessing have long graced our history. They follow the same credo as President John Adams, who said, “Always stand on principle, even if you stand alone.”
For nearly 240 years, America has asserted its trust in God—even on our currency. This prevailing faith has given our nation strength in wartime, dignity and compassion toward those less fortunate, and hope in the face of unprecedented challenges. This spirit is derived from deeply held Judeo-Christian values. We see these principles woven into the fabric of our founding documents. These documents give substance to the freedoms we all cherish. They echo the words and prayers of patriots who rose up together with one voice.
President Ronald Reagan understood that “freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction” and that “without God there is no virtue because there is no prompting of the conscience . . . without God there is a coarsening of the society; without God democracy will not and cannot long endure. . . . If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”
The battle for faith and religious freedom has come to the forefront of our national discourse. For decades, targeted efforts have been growing to remove God from every vestige of American life and culture. The things we hold sacred are slowly eroding all around us.
An aggressive and misguided minority have attempted to remove God from the public domain. Rogue court challenges by anti-God factions and widespread misrepresentation of the phrase “separation of church and state” create a climate for censorship and promote religious discrimination.
The intolerant have commanded center stage long enough. Some advocate that public acknowledgement of God must be eliminated. Then, by default, the government assumes sole authority as the final arbiter of moral order. But our founding documents place necessary and appropriate limits on how much power government should exert over life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
A Christian nation is not necessarily one in which all leaders or citizens are professing believers, or where its laws require everyone to adhere to an overtly Christian theology. A Christian nation denotes that biblical principles are incorporated into the ongoing development of essential freedoms.
Such a nation recognizes certain inalienable rights given to us by our Creator. For America, they help form our identity—evidenced in the executive, legislative, and judicial functions of our government—all embedded in the Constitution. They help ensure that the “public square” will remain neutral ground, where every voice is heard and every citizen is free to advocate for his or her position. Our founders recognized the potential for unguarded attempts to censor the truth and exclude certain voices. However, our founders also were confident that in the marketplace of ideas, truth would win out in a free society.
Though many scholars agree on the tremendous impact Christianity has had in shaping America and important building blocks of our society, the past two centuries have seen Christianity’s waning influence on the family, civil government, and even the church. Postmodernism, with its moral relativism, has exacted its toll and pushed these institutions to the breaking point.
Either a complete collapse may be forthcoming or those who operate within God’s boundaries will summon the courage to restore a necessary balance of truth and moral responsibility. With the alarming trend to erase God from America’s memory, we need the courage to make religious liberty a priority. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.”
Hundreds of national and state leaders are working to protect our Judeo-Christian heritage, freedom of conscience, religious liberty, and the right for citizens to adhere to their moral convictions. The Congressional Prayer Caucus was established in 2005 to promote prayer for our nation, protect our religious freedoms, and restore Judeo-Christian values to their rightful place in the marketplace of ideas. In 2011, members of that Caucus initiated a resolution to reaffirm our national motto: “In God We Trust.” Their efforts resulted in a landslide vote in the House of Representatives—396 to 9 in favor of recognizing God’s enduring place in American culture.
The Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation (CPCF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, was also formed in 2005 to work alongside this official Caucus to build and support a growing nationwide network of lawmakers and citizens who are committed to prayer and action.
America can still be a “city on a hill” and a light to the world (Matt. 5:14), but it is imperative that we pray for our country and for our national and state leaders. Their voices are needed now more than ever. The Apostle Paul encourages us to do just that: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Tim. 2:1–2).
“We the People” must decide whether or not we are going to stand up against undue censorship, the dismantling of our heritage, and efforts that give the state the ability to force us to leave our God-given liberties at the door of the public square—our places of business, our barracks, our schools, and our government entities.
It is our choice. It is our time to make a bold declaration to the halls of power. And it is our responsibility to do so with unity and resolve.
With the next election cycle quickly approaching, this is a critical period in our nation’s journey. Our responsibility is to discern between fact and false narratives, between truth and deception, between political gamesmanship and genuine integrity. Our privilege and responsibility is to seek out and choose our leaders wisely. Actions speak much louder than words, and we must exercise due diligence. Proverbs 14:34 says, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (NASB).
Many are battle weary and discouraged. Some have given up. Others are writing off our challenges as God’s judgment on a country that is walking away from Him. However, nowhere does Scripture tell us to shrink back.
The truth is that those who oppose religious liberty are counting on you and me to be intimidated, passive, unorganized, underfunded, and lacking the resolve and determination to engage in the public arena. They know that human nature often creates a “someone else will do it” mindset. So they aggressively take more ground. We cannot allow that to happen!
With each passing week, the United States is edging precariously closer to the unthinkable—a tangible and serious loss of our long-held religious liberties. Too many citizens remain uninformed, unaware, and, in some cases, unconcerned.
During World War II, not that long ago, Dietrich Bonheoffer, a Lutheran pastor, theologian, and anti-Nazi dissident, offered these sobering words: “Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act. Silence in the face of evil is evil itself.”
It is time to speak. It is time to act. And it is time to pray without ceasing.
LEA CARAWAN is president and executive director of the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation --a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization established to unite and mobilize government leaders nationwide, leaders who are committed to protecting religious freedom, preserving America’s Judeo-Christian heritage, and promoting prayer.
Throughout the nation’s history, our leaders have offered prayers in many situations: as petition and thanksgiving; to embrace our grief and sorrow; for our troops and first responders; in times of uncertainty and crisis; in war and in peace; for protection, provision, and guidance; and to acknowledge that in and of ourselves we are wholly insufficient.
Elected representatives are again calling on God’s people to unify with one heart and one voice to pray for the country and those who lead her. This unprecedented call for unceasing prayer was launched on March 7, 2015, by government leaders at the LIFFT America Religious Liberty Summit. (LIFFT America stands for Leaders Inspiring Faith and Freedom To America.) The Summit was convened by the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation along with Congressman J. Randy Forbes and Senator James Lankford, co-chairs of the Congressional Prayer Caucus.
Sixteen members of the U.S. Congress and 36 state legislators representing 25 states, gathered to challenge today’s growing anti-faith movement. In a solemn and historic ceremony, all present signed a Call to Prayer for America Proclamation, declaring that people of faith can no longer be silent as our nation’s Judeo-Christian heritage and religious liberties are increasingly compromised.
It didn’t stop there. The Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation also launched the PrayUSA: Government Leaders Calling the Nation to Prayer movement, in which key government leaders and pastors stand side by side—a public demonstration of unity and purpose—to call the Church to unceasing prayer for America. Government leaders are now joining pastors in their churches, encouraging congregations across the U.S. to hold PrayUSA Sundays. This initiative is now exploding all across the nation, and the numbers continue to grow—nearly 900 government leaders, 50 leading organizations, and more than 130,000 citizens who have said yes to prayer.
A three-minute video and downloadable church kits are available at prayusa.com to help churches schedule a PrayUSA spotlight or special service. You can also add your signature to the proclamation.
Is positive change truly possible in our nation today?
In every election cycle, American Christians have amazing opportunities sandwiched between grave dangers. We are privileged to be a part of a nation of people who have the responsibility to choose their own leaders. For those believing that godly leaders are a source of blessing to a nation, elections provide us with great opportunity. However, when we begin to put our hope in leaders rather than in the Lord, we open ourselves to grave danger.
God’s Word is very clear about having an undivided heart, trusting only in the Lord. King David, the mighty warrior, says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Ps. 20:7). Awareness of this verse can create a tension in the thinking Christian. Some have overreacted and rejected the political process completely. Such people will be less motivated to pray over the elections.
A balanced and biblical approach, however, allows us to fully participate in the electoral process without falling into improperly placed trust.
In Paul’s teaching on prayer in I Timothy 2:1–4, one of the major thrusts is praying for those in authority. According to Paul’s reasoning, we want good government that allows us to live “peaceful and quiet lives”—ultimately freeing us to evangelize those who are lost.
Paul would have been amazed that Christians could someday actually take part in selecting those leaders. I believe He would have been even more amazed (and appalled) that many of those Christians didn’t even bother to get involved in selecting those leaders for the purposes of God to be fulfilled.
Praying for the electoral process is the first step in seeing the fulfillment of what Paul is writing about to Timothy. I don’t believe we should wait for a leader to be selected before we move into obedient prayer for those in authority. In prayer, we invite the Lord into the process of electing those leaders who will ultimately allow us to lead “peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (v. 2).
So why pray for the elections? There are a number of compelling reasons:
The following prayer points cover seven major areas that relate to our national elections, as well as some current flashpoints.
Note that there are more prayer points regarding the Church than any other area. As the Church goes, so goes the nation. Judgment most certainly begins in the house of God (1 Peter 4:17).
This prayer guide is loosely structured for multiple uses. Choose from the suggested topics according to your interest and the leading of the Spirit. An individual might pick out a few prayer points from each category and pray those daily. A group might choose to divide them all among its members and cover the entire guide at one gathering. Some families or individuals may want to pray from this guide for months leading up to the election—and perhaps even beyond. Allow the Lord to lead you as you pray.
1. Our Nation and the Issues It Faces
2. The Election Process
3. Candidates and Leaders
4. The Church
6. Spiritual Warfare
These are areas of controversy, disagreement, division—and sometimes outright hostility—in our nation. Some would pick other issues than what I have listed here, but I believe we must pray over at least these seven areas, praying with discernment and strength:
Prayer rarely stops after the amen. When we passionately cry out to God over any issue, we should, with integrity, find ourselves praying, “and Lord, if there is any way You can use me to be an answer to this prayer, here I am.” When we pray for an election, it seems that simple honesty will then require us to follow up our prayer with voting.
What about broadening the prayer effort beyond your own prayers? Why not start a short-term prayer gathering in your home for the 30 or 40 days before the election? Invite friends or those with similar passion to join you each week for a very focused prayer meeting that asks God to intervene in our electoral process.
In a country with nearly 350 million people, it is very easy to feel as though one person is incapable of making a difference. That is false on many levels, particularly when we consider the power of prayer.
As we pray—even as one solitary person—we are teaming up with the Creator of the universe to change situations. The only way that positive change is not possible is when Christians refuse to pray!
DAVE BUTTS is president and co-founder of Harvest Prayer Ministries and the chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee. This prayer guide is available as a small 16-page booklet that can be purchased inexpensively at prayershop.org. It is also adapted from a chapter in Dave’ latest book, With One Cry: A Renewed Challenge to Pray for America.
The introduction was over and I was setting my notes on the speaker’s stand, preparing to speak about prayer to a group of missionaries in a West African nation. Looking up from my notes for the first time, I saw a hand raised. Having taught for many years at both university and seminary levels, I was accustomed to hands being raised. But seldom had I seen one raised before I began to speak.
The missionary said, “Dr. Crawford, before you begin, I have a question. If God’s called me to this country and to this people, and if God knows I am here, and if I am happy here, and if significant things are happening here, why do I need prayer?”
In my many years of classroom teaching, I had become fairly accurate in determining whether a question was designed to get information, to show how much the student knew, or to throw the professor off in his thoughts.
My answer was brief and to the point. “The Apostle Paul was a God-called missionary, and a pretty good one at that,” I replied. “Yet in every letter he wrote, he asked for prayer. If Paul needed prayer, I suppose you do also.”
I don’t think he appreciated my answer, but I felt frustrated at the timing of his question. However, it was a good question. Have you ever wondered the same thing? Let me elaborate on my earlier answer with four reasons why you and I need prayer.
The first verbal interaction between God and mankind is recorded in Genesis 3:1–19, when God seeks out Adam and Eve and asks why they are hiding from Him. The first reference to prayer in the Bible is Genesis 4:26, “Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord.”
The Bible’s first use of the word pray is in Genesis 20:7: “Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live.” The last use of the word prayer in the Bible is in Revelation 8:4: “The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand.” The next to the last verse in the Bible, Revelation 22:20, contains the last prayer in the Bible: “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”
All the way between Genesis and Revelation, the Bible teaches prayer. According to Herbert Lockyer in All the Prayers of the Bible, Scripture records no fewer than 650 definite prayers, of which 450 have recorded answers. (This is exclusive of the Psalms, which is itself a book of prayer.) So, from cover to cover, the Bible is about prayer.
Jesus was known for His great intercession, praying early in the morning and late into the night, seeking His Father in solitude, and modeling prayer for His followers.
Ever since the disciples spent ten days praying before the Day of Pentecost, Christian history has been dotted with great examples of prayer. Time and space permit the sharing of only two examples:
Moravian revival of 1727. When Pastor Rothe finished his morning sermon one August Sunday at Herrnhut, Germany, he fell to his knees and began praying. Various members of the small Moravian Brethren church quickly followed. When they finished, much to their amazement, it was midnight.
Thus began what history records as the “Hourly Intercession,” wherein 24 teams of at least two men and two women were assigned to pray for one hour each, covering the clock with hourly prayer. History records that the prayer effort lasted for 100 years without interruption.
In 1732, as they were praying, a young man named Conrad stood to announce that he had felt God’s call to take the gospel to the Virgin Islands. Another young man admitted to the same call, and thus began a movement of church planting that exceeded the total of all churches started in the previous 200 years. So committed were these new missionaries that, reportedly, they packed all their belongings in their caskets, assuming they would not return alive.
During the 100 years that the Moravians were praying for “the heathen of the world,” numerous significant events took place. Although there is no way of proving their connection, it is easy to think of God responding to the prayers of this small denomination of believers with global results such as these:
One wonders what God would do if believers once again prayed with such purpose and intent, and for such a length of time.
Prayer revival of 1857. Thirty years after the ending of the Moravian “Hourly Intercession,” once again a mighty movement of prayer saw an awesome response from God. On the corner of Fulton and William streets in the lower Manhattan area of New York City, stood the North Dutch Reformed Church. It had been declining in membership and budget because of members moving to the suburbs. The church hired a Presbyterian businessman, Jeremiah Lanphier, to manage the affairs of the dying church. Knowing little else to do, he announced a businessman’s prayer meeting to begin at noon on Wednesday, September 23, 1857. On that day, six men arrived to pray. The next Wednesday there were 13, and the next, 24. The group grew until it had spread, not only to every room in the church but to every other church building in lower Manhattan.
A young reporter, sent to the churches to count the number of men in attendance, could only make it to 12 churches, where he counted 6,000 praying men. By February, the prayer meetings were resulting in a reported 10,000 new converts per week. Then the revival left New York City and spread across to Brooklyn, then down the eastern seaboard, and across the mountain range. After eight months, more than 250,000 conversions were reported, even on ships entering New York harbor.
Again, one wonders what God might do if people once more gathered to pray with such intensity and passion.
Finally, not only does the Bible teach prayer, not only did Jesus model it, and not only does Christian history record it, but our lives require it.
First, the nature of our prayer relationship with God causes us to deeply desire God’s presence in our lives. When you love someone, you want to be in his or her presence. When that physical presence is impossible, you desire to communicate with that person by whatever means is available.
When I was traveling globally, I made a commitment to try to communicate with my wife at least once every 24 hours. I remember standing in the only phone booth in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and finally getting an international operator to make a connection to my wife in the U.S. It was challenging, but I made the effort because of love.
One wonders what life would be like if we made similar efforts to communicate with the God we love on a regular basis.
Second, the purpose of prayer is not to receive gifts, for God knows what we need before we ask. The purpose is to get to know God. The more you communicate with people, the better you know them, and the easier it is to please them.
Prayer is communication with God. This two-way communication allows us to talk with God about people before we talk to people about God. After all, we have no worthy, eternal message for people unless it comes to us from God. Thus, our lives require a prayer relationship with God.
So why do I need prayer? Given the answers above, we may ask a more appropriate question: Why wouldn’t I?
DAN R. CRAWFORD is senior professor of evangelism and missions, and chair of prayer emeritus at Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth, TX. He is the author or compiler of 18 books, including Giving Ourselves to Prayer and The Prayer-Shaped Disciple, from which some of this article is adapted.
When a group of pastors in Collin County, TX, felt overwhelmed with the growing number of people in their community who did not know Jesus, they asked, “What if we prayed for every household by name?”
Collin County is one of the fastest-growing counties in America. Yet only an estimated 25 percent hold evangelical beliefs. Almost 50 percent profess no religion at all. So local pastors came together and dreamed about what might happen if—through prayer—God would arrange divine appointments with those who needed Christ, would restore broken relationships, and would transform neighborhoods. As a result, together they created Pray 4 Every Home.
As these more strategic prayer efforts developed in their community, they began to hear stories of answered prayer. One woman said her grown daughter had wandered from God and wasn’t sure He existed. But one day when the daughter was on her way to her mom’s house, she stopped at a traffic light and saw some young men yanking an elderly man from his car directly in front of her. He was trying to fend them off with his cane.
The daughter called 911 on her cell phone and then got out of her car to assist the elderly driver. When she did, the young men ran off. After making statements to the police, she and the man each got into their cars and left.
They kept making all the same turns all the way into the mother’s neighborhood—right onto the same street. It turned out that the mother and this man lived only a few houses apart!
When the daughter told the story, her mom pulled out her printed prayer list and found the name of the man her daughter had helped. “I’ve been praying for him. Do you think this is a coincidence, or can you see that this is God?” Mom and daughter cried together and rejoiced in the way God orchestrated the divine appointment.
Organizers of Pray 4 Every Home formed a partnership with Mapping Center for Evangelism and Church Growth to provide maps and demographic information to help participants pray more effectively.
When signing up for this software, you can create a personalized list and map for your neighborhood. This interactive map shows a house icon for each neighbor. When you click on an icon, you will see the name, address, and demographic information—marital status, number of children, length of residence, possible ethnicity, language spoken, and approximate ages.
You can choose to receive a daily email and prayer prompt with the names of five neighbors. In real time, you can see if any of your surrounding neighbors are also using the software and praying. If you want to customize your list, you can add other individuals or families. Your prayer progress can be recorded in an online journal.
Churches can also use the software to map out a radius of 70 miles, which is helpful in targeting specific ministry to certain areas, in encouraging neighbors to pray together, and in sending mailings specific to certain demographics.
To sign up as an individual or become a partner church, go to pray4everyhome.com.
An event called Together 2016 will take place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on July 16, gathering people to focus entirely on Jesus. It will be a day of unified prayer and worship, and a call for catalytic change in a nation marked by rampant and demoralizing division. Organizers are calling it a “family gathering” for everyone, but they expect a generation of young people to lead the way—boldly declaring that “Jesus changes everything.”
Hundreds of churches, ministries, and partner organizations are coming together to make this day possible. Nick Hall, founder and chief communicator for Pulse (an evangelistic ministry primarily to young adults), is the originator of this vision. He explains that there have been times in history when the call to Jesus assembled the masses: Explo ‘72 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, TX; Stand in the Gap with Promise Keepers in Washington, D.C., in 1997, and many crusades in cities across the nation led by Dr. Billy Graham. These were historic events, and their impact stretched beyond the Church to all of culture. Hall believes, “The time has come to define our moment, for our generation.”
He adds, “We believe our generation needs a reset. We’re praying for Jesus to move in our lives, to move in this generation. This is a call for all of us to come together. We believe this will be a historic and generation-defining moment. This is about Jesus and His invitation to us.”
The hope is that at least a million people will pray together on a single day, especially from the Millennial generation. The Together 2016 gathering is characterized by what organizers call a “reset” prayer: that Jesus brings hope and change by offering a reset in a person’s life. Collectively, they believe this prayer is also an outcry to God to reset a generation and the nation.
Several national leaders are adding their names to the growing list of participants who will be on the National Mall on that day. They include Francis Chan, Kari Jobe, Ravi Zacharias, Hillsong United, Luis Palau, Casting Crowns, Jeremy Camp, Nick Hall, Josh McDowell, Lecrae, Matthew West, Michael W. Smith, and others.
The hope is for a million intercessors to join the prayer team to pray in advance for Together 2016. Anyone can sign up as a prayer partner, church prayer leader, or prayer network leader by going to reset2016.com/prayer. Participants will receive monthly prayer updates and information.
“God is doing something today. He is calling movements together. In fact, you’re seeing this inclination in churches and ministries that are willing to rally together for something bigger than themselves,” says Hall. For more information on the event, travel, and hotels, go to reset2016.com
(C) 2015 Prayer Connect.
Thousands of pastors and Christian leaders will gather at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, April 9, 2016, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. to join in prayer and repentance, focusing on the spiritual needs of the nation.
According to organizers, when a nation is in crisis, Scripture is clear about the solution: “Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders. . . .” (Joel 2:16–17).
Lewis Hogan, co-founder (with his wife Rachel) of United Cry DC16, describes it as a pastor-led initiative reclaiming America’s future. “Throughout our American history pastors have also always played a significant role in bringing about spiritual and social transformation in our nation. We need our pastors to rise up, teach us how to pray, and lead all of us within the Body of Christ back to a relationship with the Lord!”
They believe that making the effort to gather in the nation’s capital has been of historical and spiritual significance. The website explains: “Each time thousands of Christians gathered to pray in Washington, D.C., our nation encountered significant events and God intervened. [This is] not a time to protest, but to pray; not to rail against, but to repent of our national sins.”
The Hogans believe the core issues of America are not political, but spiritual. They are planning for 30,000 pastors to join them at the Lincoln Memorial. For more information or to register your attendance, go to unitedcry.com.
(C) 2016 Prayer Connect