Daily Devotions

DAY 25

“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” (Romans 13:11)

Praying for our political leaders so that our society will remain open to the public proclamation of the gospel may seem unnecessary to some Christians in America today. They take it for granted that our Constitution guarantees us the right to publicly practice and proclaim our faith. Why then should we bother praying to our Heavenly Father for something already guaranteed us by our Founding Fathers?

Well, just in case you haven’t noticed, strange things are currently abreast in America—things which our Founding Fathers would have never believed. Our Constitution is being reinterpreted by today’s courts and politicians to say things that our Founding Fathers never imagined, much less intended. For instance, the First Amendment, which prohibits our government from interfering with the free exercise of religion, has now been reinterpreted to mean that religious people cannot be involved in government, unless they promise beforehand to disavow their religious beliefs and convictions during the duration of their government service. 

Even more bizarre than the above is the fact that our government, which was founded on an acknowledgement of God, is now being prohibited by its own courts from acknowledging God. Despite the fact that our whole system of government is predicated upon the principle that we were all created equal and endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, any acknowledgement of such by our government today is deemed by its courts unconstitutional. Furthermore, any semblance of the Christian faith on government property, such as prayer in our public schools, a copy of the Ten Commandments on a courthouse wall, or a Nativity scene in the town square, is also forbidden by the Constitution’s current black-robed re-interpreters.  

 When you add to all of this, the ever-increasing denunciations of Christians as bigots for opposing things like same-sex marriage, along with our current president’s stated belief that the only religion acceptable in a democracy is one that is offensive to no faith and compatible with all faiths, you’ll be forced to conclude that it is no longer far-fetched to foresee a day in America when the public proclamation of the gospel will be outlawed. Although such a thing was once unimaginable in these United States, it is now certainly plausible and possibly looming.

In the past, we may have considered praying for those in authority to be of minor importance, since we took for granted our right to publicly practice and proclaim our Christian faith. Unfortunately, we are now learning the fallacy of our past naiveté. Far from being of minor importance, our prayers for America to remain free and open to the public proclamation of the gospel are currently some of the most crucial prayers we can pray. Failing to pray for the leaders of our nation may soon translate into us losing our freedom to preach to the lost of our land.

Pray that the church in America will “awake out of [its] sleep” to its present precarious position, which will result in our praying and preaching with unprecedented urgency.

 

DAY 24

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and [for] all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this [is] good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

 In Luke 20:25, Jesus said, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things which are God’s.” As Christians, we hold a dual citizenship. First and foremost, we are citizens of Heaven. Second, we are citizens of the state. As a result of our dual citizenship, we have responsibilities to both God and Caesar, so it is important that we render to both their dues.

One of the things owed to Caesar is our prayers. In 1 Timothy 2:1-4, the Apostle Paul writes: “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and [for] all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this [is] good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”

In exhorting us to pray “for all men” Paul singles out “kings and all that are in authority.” Why? Is God more concerned with the powerful than the populace? No, unlike the world, God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). In His eyes, there is no difference between potentates and peasants.

The reason we are exhorted to pray especially for political leaders is because they hold such sway over the quality of life in our society. It is not because they have some special favor with God. Rather, it is because they have such influence over our way of life.

Proverbs 21:1 teaches us: “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as rivers of water: he turneth it withersoever he will.” If we clasp our hands in prayer for political leaders, God, who holds their hearts in His hand, can sway them to keep our society “quiet and peaceable.” In such a society, Christians can practice their faith, publicly worship their Lord, and propagate their land with the gospel. According to Paul, “this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”

Notice, the reason “God our Saviour” wants a “quiet and peaceable” society is so that men will “be saved and come unto the knowledge of the truth.” Where is it easier for sinners to be saved and learn of Christ—in a Muslim land where Christians are arrested for witnessing to others, in a Communist land where the church is prohibited from preaching the gospel, or in a free society where the church is permitted to practice and proclaim its faith? Obviously, the easiest place for sinners to be saved is in a free society. This is why God wants us praying especially for our political leaders.

God is not so much concerned with politics as He is with the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God does cares for our political leaders. He cares just as much, however, for their constituency. God wants all men from the White House to your house to have an opportunity to hear the gospel and be saved. Thus, He instructs us to pray “for all men” but especially “for kings and all of those in authority” so that we will have a “quiet and peaceable” society in which everyone will have an opportunity to hear the gospel and “come to the knowledge of the truth.”

For too long now this biblical admonition to pray for our political leaders has been misinterpreted to mean that Christians are divinely duty bound to pray God’s blessings down on every politician elected to political office. Nowhere, however, does the Bible admonish us to offer up blanket-prayers of unconditional divine blessings upon politicians who promote the most ungodly policies, as well as propose and pass the most ungodly legislation.

When it comes to praying for some present-day politicians, about the only prayer I know to pray for them, apart from any the Spirit specifically burdens me to pray, is a prayer for their personal salvation. Otherwise, I limit myself to praying as the Bible teaches me to pray, that the invisible hand of God will continue to sway our political leaders to act justly and enact godly legislation so that our society will remain free and open to the public proclamation of the gospel.

Pray that those in authority will be used by God to keep our society free and open to the public proclamation of the Gospel so that all Americans will have an opportunity “to come unto the knowledge of the truth” and “be saved.”

 

DAY 23

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

J. Vernon McGee, the famous radio Bible teacher, was once asked why he did not run for political office. He answered, “God did not call me to clean up the pond, but to fish in it.” I’m afraid a lot of Christians today, unlike the late Dr. McGee, are more committed to politics than they are to preaching.

Today’s Christians need to learn that our country will never be changed through the political process. Our nation will never change until men change. Although politics may change public policy, it is powerless to change people. It is only the Gospel of Jesus Christ that has the power to transform men. This means that the church alone, as the sole steward of the gospel, has the power to change America.

This awesome power, solely possessed by the church, is only wielded by us when we are preaching the gospel. When we exchange preaching for political activism the church becomes powerless to effect change in America. Is there any wonder then that the devil is working so diligently today to deceive the church into cleaning up the pond as an alternative to fishing in it?

Now, this is not to say that the church’s voice should not be heard in the political arena or that Christians should be politically inactive. We are, after all, “the light of the world” and “the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13-16). By standing for the right and against the wrong, the church serves as the conscience of the country and the preserver of society. If the church fails to fulfill this God-given role the country will become morally rudderless and our society will soon reek with the stench of moral decay.

While I’m not saying that Christians should be politically inactive, I am saying that our political activism should never be seen as our primary responsibility. Instead, it should always be considered a secondary concern. Our primary responsibility is, as it has ever been and will ever be, the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world. Unfortunately, far too many Christians today are majoring on the minor (politics) and minoring on the major (preaching). Consequently, the contemporary church is becoming more and more irrelevant and today’s America more and more unchristian.

Pray that the church will stop minoring on preaching and majoring on politics and start minoring on politics and majoring on preaching.

DAY 22

“And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.” (Isaiah 64:7)

 

THE CONFLICT

 

The prince of darkness and legion

go forth in this world to win

the invaluable prize of the conflict

the immortal souls of men.

 

Heaven aligns its forces.

The battle lines are drawn.

Eternities hang in the balance.

In fury, the war rages on.

 

Humanities blind to the conflict,

though they the victor’s spoil;

insensitive to the battle,

due to lives of earthly toil.

 

Where are God’s gallant warriors,

who wax valiant in the fight,

who turn back the torrents of darkness

clad in the armor of light?

 

O Lord chasten your children,

in haste wield the rod,

force to their knees your people

that they might rise and take hold of God.

 

Then God’s mighty princes

who are destined to prevail

will scale the citadels of evil

and snatch men from the clutches of hell.

Pray that God will stir us up to take hold of Him for our land.

 

DAY 21

“My house shall be called the house of prayer” (Matthew 21:13)

Jesus did not say that His house would be called a house of preaching. He did not say that His house would be called a house of music. He did not say that His house would be called a house of fellowship. Jesus said that His house would be called a house of prayer.

In light of this, isn’t it strange that in most churches today there is much more preaching, music and fellowship than prayer? In addition to this, how do we explain the fact that no service of the church is less supported and more poorly attended than the prayer service? While it’s no problem to get people to come out for a potluck supper or a church singing, it’s practically impossible to get people to come out for a prayer meeting.

The Bible teaches us to pray “always” and “without ceasing” (Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:17). Why, then, do we do so little of that which the Bible commands us to do continuously? Do we see prayer in a lesser light that the Scripture shines upon it? Undoubtedly, we do; otherwise, we’d pray more.

If revival is to come to America it will come on the wings of prayer. But what chance is there of revival in America when its churches have so minimized prayer? Contrary to popular Christian opinion, the biggest obstacle to revival today is not the profaning of our culture, but the prayerlessness of our churches.

Pray that God will drive our churches to their knees, for it is only when we are on our knees that revival can rise in our land.

 

DAY 20

“And David built there an altar to the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD heeded the prayers for the land, and the plague was withdrawn from Israel. ” (2 Samuel 24:25 NKJV)

In 2005, President George Bush called for a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for the Victims of Hurricane Katrina. Angry over what he perceived to be the government’s sluggish response to blacks and poor people in New Orleans, Reginald Jackson, president of the Black Ministers Council of New Jersey, accused the president of being “a little late” in his call for a National Day of Prayer. Consequently, Rev. Jackson and other ministers and their churches refused to “heed Bush’s request” to pray, opting instead to lodge a political protest by withholding their prayers from those who desperately needed them.

Granted, many churches had already held prayer services before President Bush’s call for a National Day of Prayer, as Reginald Jackson argued, “We’ve already prayed Mr. President.” Still, it seemed strange to me that any church would refuse to pray again, especially when their only reason for doing so was to take a swipe at a President who had called them to prayer.

Jesus said, “My house shall be called the house of prayer” (Matthew 21:13). The Apostle Paul instructed us to pray “for Kings, and for all that are in authority” (1 Timothy 2:2). Yet, in some churches today politics takes precedence over prayer and political protests takes precedence over praying for those in authority. Maybe this helps to explain the implosion of our country and the impotence of so many of our churches.

Pray that America’s churches will wake up to the paltriness of political action and return to the power of the prayer altar. 

 

DAY 19

“And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” (Matthew 6:5-6)

Someone has astutely observed, “As long as there are tests in school there will be prayer in school.” The Supreme Court may have outlawed prayer in the classrooms of our public schools, but it is powerless to prevent it in the hearts of students.

J. Sidlow Baxter once said, “Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons; but they are helpless against our prayers.” America, in spite of its recent secularization, is defenseless against our prayers. Our government, along with its courts, may have tossed prayer from the public square and our public schools, but it can’t touch it in the heats of the American people. Our government, just like all others, is completely incapable of policing prayer in the hearts of its populace.

Although many bemoan the prohibiting of prayer in our public schools, the real problem in America today is the absence of prayer in our hearts, homes and churches. “And who,” I might ask, “is to blame for this?” It’s certainly not the Supreme Court. Instead, the culprit is us; after all, only we can prevent prayer in our hearts, homes and churches.

 Pray that our hearts, homes and churches become bastions of prayer for revival in America. 

 

DAY 18

“Now in the twenty and fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, and with sackclothes, and earth upon them. And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God.” (Nehemiah 9:1-3)

The National Day of Prayer is annually observed on the first Thursday of May. It was designated by Congress as a day for Americans “to turn to God in prayer and meditation.” The law which formalized this annual observance was passed by Congress and signed by President Harry Truman in 1952.

Long before 1952, national days of prayer had long been called for by American leaders. In fact, before our country was even founded, the Continental Congress issued a proclamation requesting that “a day of public humiliation, fasting and prayer” be observed on July 20, 1775. Numbered among the American presidents who have called for a National Day of Prayer is John Adams and Abraham Lincoln, the latter designating April 30, 1863 as a day of “national humiliation, fasting and prayer.” In his proclamation, President Lincoln went on to say, “It is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.”

In today’s America, the National Day of Prayer has been ruled unconstitutional by U.S. District Judge Barbara Crab, whose ruling states that the statue establishing this annual observance is “an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function.” Furthermore, unlike his predecessors, President Obama has refused to hold any White House observance of the National Day of Prayer since taking office in 2009, this despite the fact that he has held a special White House dinner to mark the end of Ramadan—the Islamic month of fasting and prayer.

Adding insult to injury, Rev. Franklin Graham, the son of famous evangelist Billy Graham and a staunch evangelical Christian, was disinvited on this year’s National Day of Prayer from praying for our troops at the Pentagon. Although the official reason given was Graham’s description of Islam as an evil religion, the real reason was his refusal to say that “all religions are equal” and his insistence upon Jesus Christ being “the only way to God.”

If America’s only hope of survival is revival, and if all revival is born in prayer, what hope is there of revival in an America that has outlawed its national observance of prayer? Truly, our hope is not found in any public observance of prayer in the White House or at the Pentagon, but only in personal and private observances of prayer in our individual prayer closets.

Pray personally, privately and persistently for revival in America, remembering that your prayers are our nation’s only hope.

 

DAY 17

“Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6)

Jonathan Goforth, who was a Canadian Presbyterian missionary to China, once said, “If revival is being withheld from us it is because some idol remains still enthroned; because we still insist in placing our reliance in human schemes; because we still refuse to face the unchangeable truth that, ‘It is not by might, but by My Spirit.’”

What idol “remains still enthroned” in your heart? What takes precedence over God in your life? To what do you devote most of your time and energy? What is your first and foremost daily aspiration? Is it to please and glorify God or is it something else?

What “human schemes” are you relying upon. Do you think that the answers for your own life are found in your own ingenuity, resources and abilities? Do you think that the answers for America are found in politicians, political parties and polling places? Are you looking to God for all that is needed in your life and nation or are you looking to your own means and human schemes?

Neither our lives nor land can be saved by our “might” or “power.” Only God can save us! If salvation is to come it will be “by [God’s] Spirit.” Herein, lies the only hope for America. It lies in a move of the Spirit of God across our land, but such a move will never occur until we’ve rid ourselves of idols and schemes.

Pray that Americans rid themselves of idols and schemes and throw themselves on the mercy of God, who alone can save us!

 

DAY 16

“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

A few months ago thousands of Americans gathered on the Mall in Washington D. C. to pray for revival in America. Their motive was the salvation of our country. Notice, it was not the salvation of souls for the glory of God, but the salvation of our society for the good of its populace.

Their method was to call all Americans to return to belief in God. What God? Well, no particular god was specified. Any generic god would do, just as long as some god was believed in. It could be the god of the Muslims, the god of a cult, one or more of the Hindu gods, or even an imaginary god conjured up in your own mind and tailored to your own liking.

What is the most condemned sin in the Bible? Idolatry, which is the worship of any god apart from the one and only true God. What is the first of the Ten Commandments? It is, “You must not have any other god but me” (Exodus 20:3 NLT). It was the worship of false gods that brought God’s judgment down upon ancient Israel. Far from bringing revival, idolatry always brings divine retribution. Yet, in today’s America, many believe that bowing before false gods will bring down God’s blessings upon our nation.

Make no mistake about it; revival only occurs when men are seeking the one and only true God, not national salvation or some other thing. When it occurs, God alone will be glorified by it. No nation’s flag will be unfurled over it; no, not even the Stars and Stripes. Although revival can result in the transformation of a nation, it is never to be seen as a means to this end, but rather as a side effect of men turning from their sin with broken hearts and to the one and only true God with all of their hearts!

Pray that America will repent of its idolatry and turn with all of its heart to the one and only true God!