Prayer Targets: FIRST of All; National Prayer; Equality Act, Birthday Abortions, Watchmen Pastors
May 08, 2019
I exhort, first of all... prayers... (1 Tim 2:1 ff)
Dear Praying Friends,
John Lind worked 17 years with Youth for Christ, then Promise Keepers and Childhelp USA before serving as President and CEO of the Presidential Prayer Team from 2002 until 2009. During his time there, PPT mobilized 1.7 million online members and produced the world's largest non-profit, web-based prayer organization. These excerpts are from Lind's "Praying for Those in Global Authority" from the National Prayer Committee's Giving Ourselves to Prayer, compiled by Dr. Dan R. Crawford:
Prayer is to be offered first, for "all men," then, for "kings and all who are in authority" (1 Tim. 2:1-2). Since our leaders are singled out for prayer, we must heed with intentional intercession for those who carry the responsibilities of our governments on their shoulders and in their hearts, in times of peace and in times of trouble... Whether individually or as participants in a united group effort...
Comprehensive Prayers - With such a broad command, not that different from "pray continually," how do we break it down? How, and why should we pray for those who lead? What did this command mean to Timothy and the believers at Ephesus? Is this just "one more thing" that a busy pastor must do, or is there genuine value in motivating those we lead to pray for those who lead us? Can a Christian be a good citizen without praying for leaders?
Paul's Prayer Principles [from 1 Tim. 2:1-4). Note that Paul says we should pray first! Our tendency is to turn in many directions -- to cable news, the Internet, newspapers or to "phone a friend." Paul calls for a re-ordering of our inclinations when he exhorts us to pray first, in crisis or in calm. Paul's comprehensive instructions include supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving. Not much is left out... Supplications, Intercessions and Prayers. These are prayers for issues and needs in the lives of our leaders, including their health, safety, family, spiritual sensitivities, etc. These prayers also lift the leader in light of specific challenges or situations like national crises, critical decisions or involvement in summits or other encounters, asking God's intervention and help in ways that only He can.
- Paul's prayers are less event-oriented, and more personhood-focused. We hold our leaders in our hearts continuously, bringing their regular concerns (wisdom, protection, good health, clarity, etc.) before the Lord at all times...
- One who intercedes is a go-between, standing in a gap, bridging the span of lack between a holy God and a human servant just as Jesus prays for us (Heb. 7:25). Prayers of intercession take the concerns of the one being prayed for to heart as if they were one's own. When we intercede, we call to God for mercy, grace and help as our leaders daily do their jobs. We pray for moral courage, divine wisdom and a sense of God's presence as they go about their work.
- Gratitude helps us see the ways God has worked and moved, even through leaders we may question or with whom we disagree. Thanksgiving enables us to express gratitude for the ways and means civil servants have been a conduit for God to achieve His purposes. Paul acknowledges (Rom 13:1) that authorities are placed by God's design and choosing, making Him the one who should receive our thanks. So, whether we agree with their policies and decisions or not, one thing is clear -- we are to thank God for the leaders He has placed over us. We ask, request, intercede and offer thanks to Almighty God from whom all good things come...
Pray this way for whom? Those spotlighted for prayer by members of the early church shed helpful light on our prayers today. Honor the Emperor. Paul echoes the Apostle Peter when he calls for prayers for all those in authority: "Fear God. Honor the king" (1 Pet. 2:17). Regardless of what rulers and leaders were doing to those in the early Church -- persecuting them, seeking to obliterate their new religion or torturing them publicly -- they never stopped praying for them. This is particularly moving in that Nero -- known for his creative means of torturing Christians for amusement and sport -- was most likely reigning as Emperor of Rome at the time Paul wrote to Timothy... The prayers of the Church are to be offered for authorities God has put in place. This is a high act of selfless love... In their powerlessness, humility, and poverty our early brothers and sisters may have been more proficient at this kind of prayer than we are...
Peaceful and Quiet Lives. There is an outworking to Paul's directive to pray for our leaders... "quiet and peaceable lives." There is an implication of both societal and governmental peace, unscathed by rebellion or uprising. This result would be pleasing enough, but Paul goes on to describe the qualities manifested in those for whom we pray and in our own lives.
Godliness and Holiness. Paul used terms that are difficult for us to grasp, for they describe qualities that too few of us have experienced. "Godliness" describes a person who is so utterly balanced that he honors both God and others with temperance and self-control... He rises to serve and honor God in spite of trials, difficulties or distractions, never losing sight of this duty... "Reverence" implies dignity in the very act of living, worshipping, working or interacting with others. Here is an outworking of prayer.
Powerful Results - These are desirable results, regardless of one's political leanings, denominational stripe or economic standing. Though not formulaic, Paul's assurance of "quiet and peaceable lives" rings with a goodness that is pleasing to us as well as to God. Time spent in prayer is surely time well spent, but further, it has the power to change society. Prayer for our leaders lead to higher ends than [anything else we can do. For government is "God's minister to you for good" (Rom. 13:3). This implies that our prayers will impact our world with great significance. Our prayers and our actions are the first and most important means of bringing peace to our communities, our nation; indeed, to the world.
Patriotism and Prayer? So if it is true, as former Senate Chaplain Lloyd Ogilvie often said, "The greatest act of patriotism (and I would add, citizenship) is prayer," we should be compelled to make prayer for our leaders one of the highest priorities of personal and congregational life. It is the one thing we can do, regardless of condition of our country, the popularity of our leaders or the moral state of citizens... Revival needs, as its prerequisite, passionate prayer. As I've traveled the country... I've seen the difference prayer makes, both in the lives of the leaders for whom we've prayed and in the lives of those who have interceded. When people are in crisis, whether it's a national disaster or a family member's illness, accident or even relational pain, we've seen them instantly and utterly embrace the efficacy of prayer. Newscasters, press agents, attorneys, and others in the public eye, when faced with death or tragedy, don't ask for cookies or a basket of soaps. They ask for prayer! Prayer makes us all stronger in all situations and prepares us for the next challenge. Though at times our national sensitivity may seem squeamish about prayer, as evidenced by the many efforts to eliminate prayer from the public discourse, we remain "One Nation Under God" with room and freedom for all. The Church will do well to heed the Apostle Paul's counsel to "Pray this way!" (John Lind, "Praying for Those in Global Authority," Giving Ourselves to Prayer, Dan R. Crawford, Compiler, Prayer Shop Publishers, pp. 504-507, edited for space.)
A Special National Day of Prayer -- With the exception of this year (due to extraordinary circumstances), I have attended the national observance of the National Day of Prayer on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. every year since the early 90's. This year I attended remotely via the live online broadcast. Online and onsite observances drew multiplied thousands of people and hundreds of organizations in an extraordinarily collegial prayer movement, which works in tandem with the National Day of Prayer Task Force to make the most of this official nationwide call to prayer. In Washington, D.C. alone, the National Day of Prayer Task Force hosts several events, including the national observance Thursday evening (broadcast and televised from the historic Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol). The week was filled with prayer as men and women were stirred by the Holy Spirit to lead prayer gatherings large and small at state capitols, county courthouses, outdoor squares, and stadiums and to lead prayer walks and other creative prayer events. Churches held prayer vigils and opened their doors to be houses of prayer. Dr. Corinthia Boone led the outdoor D.C. City event on the West lawn of the U.S. Capitol, her 35th year in a row. The local gathering is an amazing and holy spectacle -- a small army of men and women, boys and girls of nearly every color, ethnicity, language, and denomination in Metro D.C. who joined together in lively, sincere, and united prayer.
But this year was different. If you did not see the televised national observance at the Capitol, take time to see it here. God visited the assembly with His presence and grace and those gathered responded with a spirit of humility, gratitude, and awe. His presence and the spirit of the gathering was captured in the video recording.
Behind the scenes, a huge transition was taking place in the National Day of Prayer Task Force. Dr. Ronnie Floyd, NDPTF President since August 2017, has resigned his longtime role as pastor of the multi-campus Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas and is also leaving the National Day of Prayer Task Force to serve as President of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in America. For decades, Dr. Floyd has been a leading advocate for prayer, evangelism, and discipleship among Southern Baptists and Christians around the world, having written 20 books on these themes. He will be sorely, sorely missed, but will continue to be a towering advocate for prayer in our generation.
After careful prayer and deliberation, the National Prayer Committee Board of Directors unanimously confirmed Mrs. Kathy Branzell (bio) as the new President of the NDP Task Force, to succeed Vonette Bright, Shirley Dobson, Ann Graham Lotz and Dr. Ronnie Floyd. Kathy has been deeply involved in the National Day of Prayer and the National Prayer Committee for 20 years -- as an energetic volunteer and staff member and as an active member on the Board of Directors of both organizations. A serious woman of prayer, Kathy lives the mission, values, and goals of the NDP and is intimately familiar with the staff and operations of the ministry. Kathy will be a working President, dedicated full time to her role. As a member of the NPC, I have seen Kathy grow over the years but did not know of her appointment. As my wife and I watched the national observance this year, I commented, "Something is different about Kathy -- there's a new anointing upon her life." (Read Tony Perkins' The Power of Seeking God's Face; America's Lifeline to God)
- Heavenly Father, You inspired leaders throughout our history to call Americans to humble prayer. Prayer days were pivotal to our nation's establishment and survival. Christian laymen have inspired Congresses to persist in calling America to prayer, leading to the designation of the second Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer. Our Forefathers acknowledged our need and dependence upon You as a nation. Please inspire Your people to use the National Day of Prayer as a tool to draw America back to You. Thank You for Dr. Floyd's great service. Bless his days ahead! And thank You for raising up Kathy Branzell to this special leadership role. May believers across America pray for Kathy Branzell and the National Day of Prayer Task Force -- for God-given wisdom, strength, skill, and anointing to motivate Americans to pray! (Gen 32:26; 2 Chr 1:7-12; Ps 18:34; 75:6; 89:20-23; Pr 22:28; Jer 23:28; Mt 7:7-11; Heb 6:13-15; Jas 1:5; 4:10)
Finally, please add these matters to you prayer lists: 1) The Equality Act is likely to prevail in the House. Some left-leaning Republican Senators could support the bill in the Senate. The bill would not only gut the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by subordinating convictions to sexual preferences (and impose the LGBT agenda on schools, businesses, and non-profit orgs across America), it would also make abortion a matter of sexual equality; 2) Since Roe v. Wade, the American people have never been so disturbed by abortion than by the controversy over birthday abortions -- the legalization of allowing infants that survive abortion to be killed outside the womb or left to die. FRC believes Americans need to know where every elected official stands on this critical life and death matter. Pray that FRC's End Birth Day Abortion Campaign will reach its goal. Only about 19 more Democrat signatures are needed for a discharge petition to require a vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act; 3) Born-alive abortion bills are being debated in Texas, North Carolina, and Montana, and more in IL, OR, MN, KY, HI, and WI; 4) While the exposure of Planned Parenthood continues, House Democrats are attempting to funnel federal disaster relief funds to the abortion giant (hear Tony Perkins and Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) at minute 1:41-2:12); 5) Watchmen on the Wall, FRC's Premier National Pastors Briefing is just two weeks away. Please pray that it will be the best and most fruitful Briefing yet. If your pastor is not planning to go, urge him quickly to consider. It has revolutionized the ministries of many pastors and churches and we pray will help bring real revival to America. If you are interested in attending and want to be part of the on-site Prayer Team, please send me a note with a little about yourself and your prayer ministry at email@example.com.
Thanks to all who prayed for me while I was out. And thank you for praying for our needy nation!