Daily Devotions

Praying for Revival in America – Day 15

“O LORD, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us. Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake. O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.” (Daniel 9:16-19)

With today’s entry we’ll complete our consideration of some essentials of national prayer gleaned from Daniel’s prayer for the nation of Israel. We’ve already learned that serious consecration, steadfast confidence and sincere confession are essential to our prayers for America. Today, we’ll look at one final essential to be gleaned from Daniel’s prayer; namely, our spiritual concern.

As much as it may have meant to Daniel, it was not his desire to return from captivity to his homeland with his fellow-Jews that formed the heart of his prayer for Israel. Neither was it Daniel’s hope for a prosperous future for his nation. Instead, it was his concern for God’s glory that fueled his prayer for the Jewish people. Knowing that the Jews were “called by [God’s] name” and that their becoming “a reproach to all that [were] about [them]” was detrimental to the name of God in the world, Daniel prayed primarily for the restoration of Israel for the “Lord’s sake,” not Israel’s.

We need to ask ourselves: “What is at the heart of our prayers for revival in America?” Is it our economy? Do we want revival so that more people will find work, fewer people will lose their homes and all of us will do better financially. Is it national security? Do we want revival in America because we believe it will result in God putting an impenetrable shield over our country, a shield which will protect us from all enemies, both foreign and domestic? Or is it civil rights? Do we simply want revival in America so that everyone will be treated fairly, equally and justly?

Although all of these things are good, none of them should be at the heart of our prayers for revival in America. At the heart of our prayers for revival in America must be a spiritual concern. It must be the glory of God. If our prayers are fueled by any other motive, regardless of how good it may be, there is no chance of our prayers being answered or of revival coming to America.

Let us ask God to send revival for His sake, not our own; for the glory of His name, not the mere good of our nation.

Praying for Revival in America – Day 14

“And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord…We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled…And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel…” (Daniel 9:4-5, 20)

Along with serious consecration and a sure confidence, there must be sincere confession in our prayers for America. Continuance in sin will certainly bring judgment, but confessing our sins results in forgiveness, as the Bible promises in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Notice, it was not just the national sins of Israel that Daniel confessed, but his individual sins as well. If America is to corporately turn from sin and back to God, then, it must begin with Americans individually turning from sin and back to God. This means, IT BEGINS WITH YOU! Before you can pray for America to repent and get right with God you must repent and get right with God. Confession and repentance will never occur collectively in this country until it has first occurred individually among its citizenry.

Take the first step toward revival in America; namely, sincerely confess your sins to God.

Praying for Revival in America – Day 13

“To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him.” (Daniel 9:9)

A second essential in praying for America is confidence. The Bible teaches us that confidence is always a prerequisite in prayer. For instance, consider the following:

(1) “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must            believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek    him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

(2) “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the    sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive   any thing of the Lord.” (James 1:6-7)

(3) “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know     that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” (1 John 5:14-15)

Perhaps, the bigger question for Christians in America is not whether we have confidence in God or in Him answering prayers prayed according to His will, but how we can pray confidently for God to spare our nation when it is so steeped in sin. Notice, Daniel prayed for his nation on the basis that even though they had “rebelled against” God, the Lord still possessed “mercies and forgiveness.”

It is here alone that we find any basis for confidence in our prayers for America. It is not found in our nation’s merits, but in God’s mercy. It cannot be found in our goodness, but in the possibility of forgiveness, thanks to God’s grace.

Let us pray with the ancient Prophet Habakkuk, “O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.” (Habakkuk 3:2)

Praying for Revival in America – Day 12

“And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:” (Daniel 9:3)

If, as we hope, it’s not too late to pray for America, then, the question becomes: “How should we pray for America?” To many Americans this question will sound silly, but to the spiritually astute, it will not. After all, the Scripture not only attributes spiritual want to missing prayers but also to praying “amiss” (James 4:2-3).

The first thing we need to do in order to pray for America is to seriously consecrate ourselves to the task. Notice, when it came to praying for his nation, the Prophet Daniel determined to seek the Lord in prayer “with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes.” He wanted everything—his appetites (fasting), his apparel (sackcloth) and his surroundings (ashes)—to keep him singularly focused on praying to God for his nation.

In the shallow pond of today’s contemporary church, prayer meetings are called within which a prayer or two is hoisted up for our nation between praise choruses and refreshments. In our poorly attended and vanishing midweek prayer services, we spend more time on prayer requests than we do on praying. And most of our requests have more to do with praying saints out of heaven than with praying sinners out of hell. In other words, most prayer requests are for the sick in our church rather than for the lost in our world.

Needless to say, such praying won’t do for America. As it is often said, “Desperate times call for desperate measures.” These are desperate times in America, times that call for desperation in prayer. Until we get desperate before God in prayer, there is no hope for revival in America; and apart from revival, there is no hope for America!

Since all revival is born in desperation, pray that God will burden us to the point of desperation in our prayers for America.

Praying for Revival in America – Day 11

This is what the LORD says about this people: “They greatly love to wander; they do not restrain their feet. So the LORD does not accept them; he will now remember their wickedness and punish them for their sins.” Then the LORD said to me, “Do not pray for the well-being of this people. Although they fast, I will not listen to their cry; though they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Instead, I will destroy them with the sword, famine and plague.” (Jeremiah 14:10-11)

Is it possible that it is too late to pray for America? God told the Prophet Jeremiah not to pray for Judah, because the people’s sins had exhausted God’s patience and ensured the nation of divine retribution (Jeremiah 7:16; 11:14). Is it possible that America’s sins have exhausted God’s patience and ensured us of divine retribution?

An old French riddle calls upon children to consider the story of a lily pond. The pond is implanted with a single lily pad. On the first day the lily pad doubles to two. Afterward, the lily pads in the pond double everyday until the pond is completely covered on the 30th day, blocking out all light and oxygen and choking off all life in the pond. If one waits to deal with the problem until the pond is half covered on the 29th day, how long does one have to solve the problem? The answer, of course, is only one day.

What is the moral of the lily pond story? It is that we should not wait until it is too late to solve our problems. Have we been so busy with and distracted by others things that we’ve neither paid attention to nor addressed our country’s constantly doubling spiritual decadence? If so, have we waited too late to do anything about it? Is the die cast, the divine patience exhausted and divine retribution inevitable? All we can do is hope and pray that such is not the case.

Pray that it’s not the 29th day in America!

Praying for Revival in America – Day 10

“The foreigners living among you will become stronger and stronger, while you become weaker and weaker. They will lend money to you, but you will not lend to them. They will be the head, and you will be the tail!” (Deuteronomy 28:43-44 NLT)

In Deuteronomy Chapter 28, God instructs half of His people to announce from Mount Gerizim the blessings that He will bestow upon their nation if they will be faithful to Him. He then instructs the other half of His people to announce from Mount Ebal the curses that will befall their nation if they ever forsake Him.

According to Deuteronomy 28:12-13, the nation will be blessed by God financially as long as the people believe and obey God’s Word. God promises a faithful nation that it “will lend to many nations, but borrow from none.” On the other hand, the nation will be cursed by God with financial disaster if the people ever cease to believe and obey God’s Word. God promises the nation that forsakes Him that it will end up borrowing from foreigners and incapable of lending to anyone (Deuteronomy 28:43-44).

I don’t know about you, but Deuteronomy 28:12-13 sounds to me like an accurate description of America yesterday, back when we were a God-fearing nation that revered God’s Word. In those days, we were blessed by God as the world’s greatest lender nation. Today, however, we resemble the nation described in Deuteronomy 28:43-44, a nation that has forsaken God and is no longer under His blessing, but under His curse. Consequently, our country is no longer the world’s greatest lender nation, but the world’s greatest debtor nation.

Although many explanations are given for America’s current economic downturn, our forsaking of God is normally not one of them. Yet, here, just as in all our other national problems, the real trouble is spiritual. Having gone from being a God-fearing nation to a God-forsaking one, we’ve moved ourselves out from under God’s blessings and put ourselves under His curse.

Pray that America will repent of its forsaking of God and return to its faithfulness to God so that God will lift his curse and restore His blessings.

Praying for Revival in America – Day 9

“But we will bless the LORD from this time forth and for evermore. Praise the LORD.” (Psalm 115:18)

The Psalmist declared, “Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.” (Psalm 103:1). Herein lies a twist on our traditional thinking in America. Rather than thinking and praying about God blessing us, do we ever think and pray about us blessing God?

Although He promised to bless Abraham, God’s greater promise to Israel’s patriarch was that he would make him a blessing to the whole world (Genesis 12:1-3). Although America, like no other nation before it, has been blessed by God, our greatest blessing is found in the fact that God has made us a blessing to the rest of the world. For instance, no nation in history has sent out more Christian missionaries than ours.

Unfortunately, things have drastically changed in today’s America. Take for example the boasting of our president at a recent press conference in Turkey that America is no longer a Christian nation. In addition, a member of his political party recently celebrated the fact on national television that we are no longer a nation of traditional values. Again, in both cases, there was no shame or lamentation, but proud jubilation. What does this say about the sad spiritual straits of today’s America.

Don’t pray that God bless America, but that America bless God!

Praying for Revival in America – Day 8

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.” (Psalm 33:12)

The well-known and much beloved song God Bless America was written by Irving Berlin in 1918 and revised by him in 1938. In 1938, it was introduced to America on an Armistice Day broadcast by singer Kate Smith, afterward becoming Mrs. Smith’s signature song. The song was actually written by Berlin to be sung as a prayer.

“While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,

Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free,

Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,

As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.

God Bless America,

Land that I love.

Stand beside her, and guide her

Through the night with a light from above.

From the mountains, to the prairies,

To the oceans, white with foam

God bless America, My home sweet home.”

That God has blessed America more than any country in the history of the world is indisputable. However, the real need today is not to pray so much for God’s blessings, but for our country to get back to the place where God can bless it. As the Bible says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD…” (Psalm 33:12).

Pray that America returns to God so that God can bless us again as He has blessed us before.

Praying for Revival in America – Day 7

“To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” (Revelation 3:7-8)

Rick Warren closed his Inaugural Prayer at Barack Obama’s Inauguration with these words: “I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life, Yeshua, Isa, Jesus [Spanish pronunciation], Jesus, who taught us to pray: ‘Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’”

At first glance, it appeared that Pastor Warren had bucked the political correctness of our day and bravely ended his much anticipated prayer in the name of Jesus. Like first century Jerusalem, the one thing intolerable in twenty-first century America is a Christian who dares to speak the name of “Jesus” in public (Acts 4:5-31; 5:28, 40-42; 9:13-16, 21; 15:26; 21:13; 26:9-11). Consequently, everyone was wondering whether Warren would dare to do the intolerable by biblically and unabashedly praying in “Jesus name” (John 14:13-14; 16:23-24).

At first glance it appeared that Warren had went where few contemporary Christians are willing to go; namely, outside the camp to Christ where the disgrace of our Savior is borne and our personal reputation sacrificed (Hebrews 13:11-14). Upon closer scrutiny, however, it turned out that Warren never really left the camp at all, but remained safely within the comfortable confines of compromise.

One of the names for Jesus in which Warren prayed his Inaugural Prayer is “Isa.” Although the Arabic for Jesus is “Yesu,” Mohammed refers to Jesus as “Isa” throughout the Koran. When forced to flee Mecca for Medina because of the preaching of his new religion, Mohammed suddenly found himself in a city that was founded and predominantly populated by Jews. The Jews of Medina viewed Jesus Christ as a phony Messiah and ridiculed Him by calling Him “Esau,” after the rejected brother of Jacob who swapped his birthright for beans and lost his father’s blessing. Mohammed picked up this derogatory name for Jesus, translated it into Arabic as “Isa,” and used it throughout the Koran when referring to Christ.

According to the Koran, “Isa” is like Adam, a mere man created by Allah from the dust. Furthermore, he is nothing more than a servant of Allah, whom Allah can destroy anytime he takes a notion to. Therefore, anyone professing “Isa” to be God or the Son of God is under the curse of Allah and will be “forbidden entrance into paradise and cast into the fire of hell.”

It was the Apostle Paul who warned us about false prophets who preach “another Jesus” (2 Corinthians 11:4). Muslims preach “another Jesus,” one who the Koran says only appeared to die on the cross for the sins of the world. In the Middle Ages, Martin of Tours taught believers to distinguish the real Jesus from all others by asking, “Where are the nail-prints?” If there are no nail-prints, it is not the real Jesus, but a counterfeit Christ.

One cannot help but wonder why Rick Warren prayed His Inaugural Prayer in the name of the nail-scarred Jesus who changed his life, as well as in the name of Islam’s counterfeit Christ, who has no nail-prints. Granted, Rick may have merely intended to include the “Arabic” name for Jesus in the closing of his prayer so as not to offend Muslim Americans. Yet, I’m afraid his attempt at praying a non-offensive prayer ended up being most offensive to the One to whom he prayed.

Try as we may, loyalty to our Lord leaves us no way around His solemn warning—“And you shall be hated of all men [and of all nations] for my name’s sake” (Matthew 10:22; 24:9; Mark 13:13; Luke 21:17). The true church of Jesus Christ has no other alternative but to unapologetically profess and to unabashedly proclaim the name of Jesus. No matter the cost or consequence to ourselves, we must never deny the name of the only one who can set before us an open door to the treasure house of God (Revelation 3:7-8).

Pray that the church will not succumb to political correctness by refusing to boldly and publicly proclaim the name of Jesus—He who alone can save America!

Praying for Revival in America – Day 6

“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

In a book entitled Six Months in the White House, which was written by Francis B. Carpenter shortly after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Carpenter writes of an encounter during the Civil War between President Lincoln and a northern clergyman. Carpenter’s account reads as follows:

“No nobler reply ever fell from the lips of a ruler, than that uttered by President Lincoln in response to the clergyman who ventured to say, in his presence, that he hoped ‘the Lord was on our side.’

“‘I am not at all concerned about that,’ replied Mr. Lincoln, ‘for I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord’s side.'”

May it be our constant anxiety and prayer that our nation should be on the Lord’s side, not that the Lord should be on our side.