The Urgency of Intercessory Prayer | 2014-4

 

For our transgressions before you are many, and our sins testify against us. Our transgressions indeed are with us, and we know our iniquities: transgressing and denying the Lord, and turning away from following our God, talking oppression and revolt, conceiving lying words and uttering them from the heart. Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands at a distance; for truth stumbles in the public square, and uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking, and whoever turns from evil is despoiled. The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, and was appalled that there was no one to intervene . . . .(Isaiah 59:12-16, NRSV).

The prophet Isaiah allowed God to stir his heart over the lostness of His chosen nation so that he understood the Creator’s grief over the apostasy that demanded divine judgment. What must have really awakened the prophet was that God was appalled that there was no one to intervene.

A global fire is raging. The times that Jesus foretold are upon us. He said, Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you . . . . You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death . . . . When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near . . . . Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man (Luke 21:10-12, 16, 20, 34-36, NIV).

Millions of professing evangelicals in America are caught up in shocking fear, wondering what happened to their faith. Too many have ignored Christ’s instruction as to our orders for the last days. Franklin Graham writes, “Before one crisis can be calmed, another rains down. From coast to coast, continent to continent, terror strikes the nations. News anchors and political personalities often shake their heads and ask, ‘What in the world is going on?’”

It must grieve our God that at this critical hour our church’s prayer rooms are nearly empty, family altars are broken down, and no solemn assemblies are being called. Surely the God who wants to save us must be appalled that there is no one to intervene. How can we American believers ignore our responsibility for complying with God’s sure solution to our coming implosion? The call is going out to Christians: 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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land (II Chronicles 7:14, NIV).

One has to wonder just how dead—deaf, disinterested, paralyzed, indifferent—the body of Christ across America has become! Instead of a marching army ready for battle, have we become one of Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones?

Then, let us pray for an ear to hear God’s voice telling us to Prophecy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones; I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’ (Ezekiel 37:4-6, NIV).

Then the Lord told the prophet, Prophesy to the breath—this is tantamount to the New Testament believer praying to the Holy Spirit— . . . and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’ (Ezekiel 37:9, NIV)

Such obedience—sacrificial praying, burdensome intercession, groaning in sync with the Spirit’s passion for renewal—had great results: So I prophesied as he commanded, said the prophet, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army (Ezekiel 37:10, NIV).

Even at this late hour, the urgency of intercessory prayer can still bring forth the mighty deliverance that the church and the world so desperately need. The apostle James reminds Christians: Confess to one another therefore your faults—your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins; and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored—to a spiritual tone of mind and heart. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available—dynamic in its working. Elijah was a human being with a nature such as we have—with feelings, affections and constitution as ourselves; and he prayed earnestly for it not to rain, and no rain fell on the earth for three years and six months. And [then] he prayed again and the heavens supplied rain and the land produced its crops [as usual] (James 5:16-18, ANT).

When a community or an entire nation slips from its moral and spiritual moorings, God always calls His people to heart-searching repentance for the resulting spiritual awakening that will penetrate the moral fabric of the community or nation. But history reveals sufficient evidence to warn us that prolonged rejection of the will and Word of our Sovereign God will result in His severe judgment.

Several of my close friends and prayer partners, in whom I have great confidence, agree with me that America is now under God’s severe judgment. Consider the sobering truth of God’s New Testament apostle as he spoke to the wise men of Athens: The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth . . . . From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them . . . . God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being,’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man’s design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this by raising him from the dead (Acts 17:24-31, NIV).

As surely as God’s Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead, He will judge all the nations of human history, including America. In dealing with the nations, God always addresses His professed followers as being responsible for backsliding and apostasy. God has ordained spiritual awakenings among his people, often referred to as revivals, as a means of purifying, preserving, and perpetuating His church. But the revivals of history have not only been the divine means of renewing the Christians; they have been the divine secret of preserving the nations that His people inhabit.

To my Christian readers: Let us not look to any human spiritual leader to bring about the revival we so desperately need! Let us not look to any human political leader to deliver us from our coming implosion of America! Nor can we expect a wise mathematical panel to save us from national bankruptcy.

We have only one hope, one way out, but almost no time left to decide: A God of mercy and grace awaits His challenge to American believers to humble ourselves (acknowledge our true inward and outward conditions), pray to God in Jesus’ Name in the strength and power and enlightening grace of the Holy Spirit (call solemn assemblies, confessing personal, family, congregational, and community sins, with deep sorrow, tearfully and penitently calling on a merciful God for forgiveness), seek His face (cry for His merciful forgiveness and favor, hunger for His intimate fellowship, pouring out worshipful praise and thanksgiving) and turn from our wicked ways (True repentance will be surrendering to the leadings of the Holy Spirit within us to serious times of private and public worship, turning from our hypocrisy to costly worship, calling a halt to our carnality showing up in attitudes and mouthy criticisms, and returning to the instructions of Jesus concerning true discipleship). When we comply with God’s requirements, He promises to hear from heaven, forgive our sin and heal our land (II Chronicles 7:14, NIV).

Christian believers, let us not dare to begin our part until we pray for the hunger, humility, and honesty required of us. God will help us experience this if we ask in faith and sincerity. He will even help us trust Him to send the revival we need if we allow Him to begin with us personally!

Oh God, let it be!

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