The First Thursday in May. …the National Day of Prayer. (NDP)
May 7, 2020.
What is today for? What’s this about? The answer might seem simple: Prayer. But that simple answer leads to a flood of other questions…
Who is being called to pray? What are we praying for? Who are we praying to?
Well, “the nation,” of course. We’re calling the nation to pray. But is it biblical to call a nation to prayer? I beleive so. Although, maybe not the way we’re doing it. I think we need a new template, a new pattern. Not only does modeling our national call to prayer after 2 Chronicles 7 (and other pleas to God’s people), appear to have serious hermeneutical problems, it does not appear to be producing widespread fruit.
Let’s consider what our nation’s NDP meetings have produced. (This is not meant to be a criticism to the creators, promoters, and participants of NDP over the years. Many of these are dear brothers and sisiters in Christ who are laboring well for the Kingdom. My intent is to simply evaluate what has become of this effort and where we can get it back on track.)
Today will be filled with programs that are not only ecumenical among Christian traditions (which can be a good thing), but many of these representatives will be from traditions and churches that have denied the gospel. More than that, non-Christian faiths are also being represented at NDP gatherings in city parks and on courthouse steps. Which begs the question, who are we praying to?
America, regardless of her foundations, is a secular and plurastic society. If you are going to call a plurastic nation to pray, you will create a pluralistc prayer movement. It has, in a sense, become a Jonah 1:6 call: “Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.” (ESV) It has become a “cover all bases, come together in solidairty, work toward the same goal” kind of partnership, and Christ has become lumped in with our cultural spirituality, yoked together with other gods.
Please don’t misunderstand, we can still show respect to those of other faiths, enter into dialogue with them and even partner with them in certain efforts, but prayer is not one of them.
This is why the National Day of Prayer should not be a 2 Chronicles 7 prayer meeting. Even when we keep our meetings Christian and orthodox our prayers (for whatever reason) manage to avoid or underplay what must be the centerpiece of a widespread, cooperative, national call to prayer:
Repentance. Serious, humble, painful, transparent repentance.
Listen to the rhetoric; hear the prayers offered from platforms across our nation today. Read the outlines on the published programs. You won’t see it. It won’t be there except, perhaps, in the periphery.
We will gather to recognize our blessings and to thank God for them? That’s a good thing to do.
We will gather to recognize God, His glory and His throne, to implore Him to bless our families, cities, governments, and nation. I think these prayers are necessary but should not be the meat of our intercessory banquet.
Instead of 2 Chronicles 7:14 (a powerful call to prayer for God’s people), we should be following the lead of Jonah 3:6-9:
The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” (ESV)
This should be the model for the National Day of Prayer.
The model of Nineveh and not Israel. A call to an ungodly nation must sound like Jonah not Solomon.
Consider, what if Jonah (the book not the prophet) became the template for our national call to prayer.
- An imperfect prophet (the church) preaches God’s message of warning to a godless people.
- Conviction falls on that nation’s leaders.
- A proclamation is issued calling for repentance and humility before the One true God.
Then and only then will our NDP actually bear fruit, abundant fruit… far-reaching and enduring fruit. The kind of fruit that leads to salvations, transforms lives, impacts families, and averts plagues.
The fruit of repentance.
Faithful proclamation, serious warning, sharp conviction, and national repentance. These are the true precursors to revival. Let’s seek them with all our hearts. Let’s seek Him.
O Lord, please, let us abandon empty displays of religious activity and grant us humility, repentance, and revival.