The late Leonard Ravenhill spoke these sobering words, startlingly apropos for contemporary America: “The self-sufficient do not pray, the self-satisfied will not pray, the self-righteous cannot pray.”
We have become self-sufficient, depending on our own abilities. We hold aloft our trophies, proclaiming, “Look what we have earned!” We neglect the gracious Giver of all gifts. We have become self-satisfied, prideful in our meaningless, material accomplishments. We rest pampered and apathetic in the arms of affluence. We forget the One who offers true satisfaction.
We have become self-righteous, basking in the sunlight streaming through our stained glass windows. We ignore the God of whom Paul wrote, “[T]hey did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own” (Romans 10:3 NIV).
In his 1863 Proclamation for a National Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer, President Abraham Lincoln said, “It behooves us, then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”
If we do not confess the sins of our critically ill culture, the illness could be terminal. Time and time again, God has judged nations by the character of His people. When His people failed to repent, their nations fell. America’s believers – preachers and plumbers, janitors and judges, editors and educators, broadcasters and brick masons – must spend time before God Almighty, confessing and repenting.
Dr. Jack Graham, 2015 honorary chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, offers this prayer, suggesting that believers across the nation pray it simultaneously on Thursday, May 7, at 12:00 noon EDT:
We come to You in the Name that is above every name—Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Our hearts cry out to You.
Knowing that You are a prayer-answering, faithful God—the One we trust in times like these—we ask that You renew our spirits, revive our churches, and heal our land.
We repent of our sins and ask for Your grace and power to save us. Hear our cry, oh God, and pour out Your Spirit upon us that we may walk in obedience to Your Word. We are desperate for Your tender mercies. We are broken and humbled before You. Forgive us, and in the power of Your great love, lift us up to live in Your righteousness.
We pray for our beloved nation. May we repent and return to You and be a light to the nations. And we pray for our leaders and ask that You give them wisdom and faith to follow You.
Preserve and protect us, for You are our refuge and only hope. Deliver us from all fears except to fear You, and may we courageously stand in the Truth that sets us free. We pray with expectant faith and grateful hearts.
In Jesus’ name, our Savior. Amen.
Where do we begin with our personal prayers? First, every man, woman and child who claims the name of Christ should pray in earnest for a deepening personal relationship with the Savior. Daily personal confession and repentance are prerequisite for a life of faith. We must pray for our families; pray God’s power and protection over them and pray that each one will be Christ’s light in the darkness.
Believers must pray for our workplaces or classrooms, wherever we spend our day away from home. Pray for coworkers, classmates, teachers, supervisors, bosses and subordinates. Pray for God to use us to bring honor and glory to Him.
Pray for the unsaved – family members, friends, acquaintances, co-workers and others whom God puts on your heart.
Pray for those in civil authority – city and county officials, governors and other state leaders. Pray for the president, congressmen and senators. Pray for the judges and attorneys who direct traffic in our courtrooms.
Pray for leaders in the body of Christ across America and around the world. Begin with your pastor and church staff members, elders, and deacons or board members of your church, your Sunday school teacher and other volunteers who devote their time to lifting up Jesus Christ.
Pray for your denominational leaders and executives. And finally, pray for leaders in the countless ministries and missions God has put in place to spread the gospel.
The great spiritual movements in history have often been preceded by seasons of great moral crisis not unlike what we face today. For this season, and for the moral health of our nation, it is imperative that Christ’s followers be vigilant in prayer.
SIDEBAR: National Day of Prayer
Thursday, May 7, is the 64th annual National Day of Prayer. This year’s theme, “Lord, Hear Our Cry,” is based on 1 Kings 8:28 – “Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day.”
The mission of the National Day of Prayer Task Force is to mobilize prayer in America and to encourage personal repentance and righteousness in the culture. For more information, visit www.nationaldayofprayer.org.