If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:13-14
Today is National Day of Prayer in America. For more than 200 years this country has had a history of calling its citizens to prayer. The first call to prayer came in 1775, when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming the nation. In 1863, President Lincoln called for a day of “humiliation, fasting, and prayer.” In 1952, President Truman declared an annual, national day of prayer. In 1988, the law was amended and signed by President Reagan, permanently setting the first Thursday of May as the national day of prayer.
What would happen if every person calling themselves Christians actually prayed today? Not just quick words thrown up toward heaven as one shoots a basketball, but a heartfelt prayer of humility and repentance? What if we, as millions of individuals claiming to be followers of Jesus Christ, took responsibility for our own sins, shortcomings, and failures and asked for forgiveness, as individuals?
What if we stopped fighting each other and began to fight the spiritual forces of darkness instead?
What if we repented of our arrogance and pride and our need to be right rather than righteous?
What if we stopped arguing with those that have different opinions on Facebook postings and anonymous comments on the internet and prayed for those individuals instead?
What if all of us asked God to give us His heart, His eyes, His hands, and His feet in order to show His love to a dying world…..and actually meant it?
The world would be rocked, that’s what.
The forces of Satan, that have pitted man against man for millennia, would be pushed back.
God has a plan for this world. It is a plan of redemption through Jesus Christ. I’m not exactly sure why, but he has chosen to do some of his work through frail, easily offended, easily puffed up, easily misguided human beings. I fit that job description. You do, too.
Today, on this National Day of Prayer, I am issuing a challenge. The challenge is to spend more time praying and less time talking. Pray as if your life depended on it, because it does! Pray first for yourself with humility, repentance, and a willing heart to do God’s will rather than your own. Next pray for your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and fellow human beings. Lastly, pray for America, or whatever nation where you reside. Pray for God’s will, which is often perplexing to us, over our nations and over our leaders. Pray, as Jeremiah 29:7 instructs us, “Seek the welfare of the city (could easily read nation) where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.”
Pray for strength to endure. Pray for wisdom. Pray for courage to take a stand for righteousness when God is leading and courage to step away from unproductive arguments when flesh is leading.
James 5:16 reminds us that we need to pray for one another in the spirit of humility. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”
Here is the real challenge:
Don’t just pray today and then go back to life as usual tomorrow. Rather challenge yourself to make every day a Day of Prayer.
By Leslie Eichler Co-Director Marriage Growers International and Standing Stone blogger and mentor