Several years ago I was asked to pray for the United States at our church's annual Prayer Day service. I led us in praising God and thanked him for our blessings, especially the freedom to worship. We asked the Lord for wisdom for our leaders and courage and integrity for all Christians who are called to serve in government.
After the service a man stopped me and said, "That was a fine prayer, but you forgot the most important thing. You gave thanks and asked for blessings, but you didn't confess the sins of our nation and ask for forgiveness."
I keep thinking about that as I consider our troubled nation. Shouldn't we be confessing that we give more time and money to idols such as entertainment, sports, and technology than to the Lord? Does the motto "In God we trust" still have meaning? Or do we have a revival only when tragedy strikes?
When terrorists successfully destroyed the twin towers in New York City and thousands of people were killed, we were stunned and gripped by fear. People flocked to churches to pray, and we experienced a mini-revival. But as time passed, many people no longer felt the need to examine their hearts and rely on God.
Unrest and confusion took over again in the 2016 U.S. election season as candidates hurled harsh accusations at one another. However, in the discord of the election and the protests that ensued, one good thing resulted. Many people were aroused from their apathy. But did this lead us to acknowledge our need to repent and ask God to forgive us for our preoccupation with our individual happiness?
I encourage all of us to think about our national need for confession and repentance as we faithfully pray for our leaders and the whole nation. Hundreds of people are forming prayer circles to pray for spiritual revival. I encourage all who read this to start or join one of these prayer circles.
We can expect results because Jesus Christ, “the ruler of the kings of the earth" is in control (Rev. 1:5). "All this comes from the Lord Almighty, whose plan is wonderful, whose wisdom is magnificent" (Isa. 28:29).
God has promised, "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). And, as James reminds us, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (5:6).