A response to the current state of American affairs….
I have been, as many of you have been, watching the current horrific actions of our national leaders centering around the partial government shutdown, and the debate over raising the debt limit. I have been appalled at the petty actions to hurt the American people by denying access, and even arresting those who cross barriers to national monuments, and denying people access to their own homes if they happen to be on federal land.
I have to confess my total outrage and disgust at the pettiness that is being shown on so many levels.
My heart is broken for our society in these days, where at a school in Washington state, balls are banned because they might harm students, and the NSA spying issues, the lack of leadership, and the list can go on and on .
I have to confess too, that I found myself being caught up on a sense of hopelessness for a time… a negativity that we have seen the last gasps of our great republic. I had thoughts that I would live to see the descent of The United States of America into a form of government none of us wanted, but none of us stood up to protest.
Those are the words that I was reminded of out of that pit of hopeless thinking. I was reminded that this is a perfect time, a perfect opportunity for the church to respond in the appropriate manner, in the manner that has, in the past brought great Awakenings to our country,
I think many Americans today are not aware of the writings and teachings of the revival historian, Dr. J. Edwin Orr.
In a speech called “The Role of Prayer in Spiritual Awakening,” Dr. Orr describes the conditions in the colonies prior to the First Great Awaking. This is what he writes:
Not many people realize that in the wake of the American Revolution there was a moral slump. Drunkenness became epidemic. Out of a population of five million, 300,000 were confirmed drunkards: they were burying fifteen thousand of them each year. Profanity was of the most shocking kind. For the first time in the history of the American settlement, women were afraid to go out at night for fear of assault. Bank robberies were a daily occurrence. What about the churches? The Methodists were losing more members than they were gaining. The Baptists said that they had their most wintry season. The Presbyterians in general assembly deplored the nation’s ungodliness. In a typical Congregational church, the Rev. Samuel Shepherd of Lennox, Massachusetts in sixteen years had not taken one young person into fellowship. The Lutherans were so languishing that they discussed uniting with Episcopalians who were even worse off. The Protestant Episcopal Bishop of New York, Bishop Samuel Provost, quit functioning: he had confirmed no one for so long that he decided he was out of work, so he took up other employment. The Chief Justice of the United States, John Marshall, wrote to the Bishop of Virginia, James Madison, that the Church “was too far gone ever to be redeemed.” Voltaire averred, and Tom Paine echoed, “Christianity will be forgotten in thirty years.”
Take the liberal arts colleges at that time. A poll taken at Harvard had discovered not one believer in the whole of the student body. They took a poll at Princeton, a much more evangelical place: they discovered only two believers in the student body, and only five that did not belong to the filthy speech movement of that day. Students rioted. They held a mock communion at Williams College; and they put on anti-Christian plays at
Dartmouth. They burned down the Nassau Hall at Princeton. They forced the resignation of the president of Harvard. They took a Bible out of a local Presbyterian church in New Jersey, and burned it in a public bonfire.
Christians were so few on campus in the 1790s that they met in secret, like a communist cell, and kept their minutes in code so that no one would know.
In case this is thought to be the hysteria of the moment, Kenneth Scott Latourette, the great church historian, wrote: “It seemed as if Christianity were about to be ushered out of the affairs of men.” The churches had their backs to the wall, [highlights mine] seeming as if they were about to be wiped out. How did the situation change? It came through a concert of prayer
Dr. Orr goes on to describe how people began to gather in concerted gatherings of prayer, and in response to concerted, humble, desperate prayer, God responded with what we now call the First Great Awakening.
The Word of God is always true in every fluctuation of society, and when He says,
Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT)
It is a promise we can count on.
Are things terrible in our country right now? Yes, on many levels. Does any of this catch God by surprise? Not at all. Is any of this beyond His ability to bring revival and transformation? Not in the least.
The question is, what will my response be? What will our response be? Will be wring our hands in fear, or pound our fists in anger, or will be get on our knees and humble ourselves and confess that we as the people of God have been part of the problem? Will be cry out to him in concerted, humble, desperate prayer? Or will we hold on to our own sins and pride and watch things continue to crumble before us?
I am not a prophet, but I know the Scriptures are true, and I know the testimony of history. If we will respond as God directs us, He will be faithful to answer us.
Now is the time for the church to unite in humble desperate prayer for our nation. Turn off Fox News, and CNN, yes, and even Facebook, and gather in prayer with other believers and petition God for the salvation of our nation. It is not too late. The Lord awaits our response.
This is my plea to believers wherever you are… start now…. Don’t let up until He answers with power in your life, in your family, in your city, in our nation.
Even so, Come! Lord Jesus…in revival power.