Prayer Targets: Why We Need the Call2Fall this Sunday, Before the 4th of July
June 27, 2018
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. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
Dear Praying Friends,
FRC's Vice President for Church Ministries, Dr. Kenyn Cureton (bio), leads FRC's nationwide ministry to pastors and churches, Watchmen on the Wall. A pastor for 20 years and New Testament scholar, Dr. Cureton's avocation is the study, preaching, and teaching of American history from a perspective of God's Providence. This is from his book, Lost Episodes in American History:
On June 26, 1876, President Ulysses S. Grant issued a Proclamation for a National Day of Public Thanksgiving to coincide with the 100th anniversary celebration of our Independence:
"The centennial anniversary of the day on which the people of the United States declared their right to a separate and equal station among the powers of the earth seems to demand an exceptional observance. The founders of the Government, at its birth and in its feebleness, invoked the blessings and the protection of a Divine Providence, and the thirteen colonies and three millions of people have expanded into a nation of strength and numbers commanding the position which then was asserted and for which fervent prayers were then offered. It seems fitting that on the occurrence of the hundredth anniversary of our existence as a nation a grateful acknowledgment should be made to Almighty God for the protection and the bounties which He has vouchsafed to our beloved country.
"I therefore invite the good people of the United States, on the approaching 4th day of July, in addition to the usual observances with which they are accustomed to greet the return of the day, further, in such manner and at such time as in their respective localities and religious associations may be most convenient, to mark its recurrence by some public religious and devout thanksgiving to Almighty God for the blessings which have been bestowed upon us as a nation during the century of our existence, and humbly to invoke a continuance of His favor and of His protection."*
President Grant's Proclamation that the Centennial of our nation be celebrated by a day of "public religious and devout thanksgiving to Almighty God" is a lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read 1 Thess. 5:18 and reflect on Paul's words and compare them with the spirit of President Grant's thanksgiving proclamation.
Prayer: Father, as we look ahead to the birthday of our nation, we cannot help but have hearts full of gratitude and thanks for your Providence in the rise and success of America, in Jesus' Name, Amen. (Dr. Kenyn Cureton, Lost Episodes in American History, June 26, pp 226-227)
*Source Citation: James D. Richardson, ed., A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents 1789-1902, 11 vols., (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of National Literature and Art, 1907-1910), 7:392.
Call2Fall 2018 and Independence Day -- I wish every believer and every American knew about and planned to observe the Call2Fall this coming Sunday before we celebrate Independence Day! When President Grant called for July 4th, 1876 to be a Day of Thanksgiving to God on the 100th anniversary of the Declaration, he made no mention of the horrific war the nation had just undergone, when brothers fought and killed brothers, when 650,000 fighting men and 100,000 civilians died. Nor did he mention "humiliation," "sins," or "repentance" as had nearly all the prayer and thanksgiving proclamations prior to the war. Abraham Lincoln described the Civil War as divine judgment for the sins of the nation:
We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!
It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness. (1863 Lincoln Prayer Proclamation)
The unthinkable Civil War devastated America, yet God preserved us a nation.
Our Children Were Once Taught -- In earlier days, American children who celebrated Independence Day had been taught our young nation's history. They knew the stories of the faith of the Patriots, the role of the clergy in our founding era, who prepared our leaders and people to value religious and political liberty more than their very lives. They knew about the prayer meetings and biblical truths that gave young men and old the courage and will to leave their families and farms to risk their lives to fight the most powerful army on earth. Many gave not only their livelihood and homes but their blood to secure the liberty with which we have been blessed. Today, we ought to reflect that God has preserved us for the past 242 years -- through many trials and costly wars. But too few Americans will consider God this Fourth of July. As in 1863, too many of us "have forgotten God" and with Him the spiritual foundations of our nation with its biblical roots.
The Declaration of Independence attributes our "unalienable rights... life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" to God Himself and declares that "to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men..." It was this fact that distinguished America from the rest of the nations of the world. John Adams said that the Declaration's passage "ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty."
On Your Knees before the Lord --While all Americans celebrate Independence Day, few Americans remember the day of "humiliation, fasting and prayer" called by the Second Continental Congress one year before the Declaration. But reports suggest that nearly the entire American population observed that call "on their knees" (1775, Prayer Proclamation). To humble ourselves before God is to follow the model of our Master:
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:5-12 NKJV).
Why Call2Fall? -- When God called Tony Perkins to initiate Call2Fall in 2009, His message was very specific. After Tony had preached a strong message on repentance to a large California congregation, a little African-American lady approached him at the close of a church service. She spoke to him pointedly, her focus on the "bowing of the knee." She said, "You need to call churches across the nation to get on their knees, literally, before God." Tony politely told her that he would pray about it. She then became insistent that this message was "of the Lord" and "the church needed to respond." Tony nearly dismissed her challenge, but God confirmed to him in many ways that He was speaking to him through that little lady. (Take time to read his story and you will better understand the meaning of all this and Tony's passion to serve.)
Here is a small part of the message Tony preached that morning from 2 Chronicles 7:14:
That well-known verse begins with "If My people" -- the Church; we can't wait for the political establishment or educational leaders or the entertainment industry to lead the effort. We, who are believers in Jesus Christ, must take responsibility to change the society in which we live into one that honors God and is, therefore, worthy of His blessing. Once the "who" is established the "what" becomes the focus. Step 1: Humble ourselves. The Hebrew word used in scripture, "kana," means "to bow the knee or fall on one's knees in a display of submission." It is often associated with fasting and the afflicting of the soul. Step 2: Prayers of intercession -- a pleading for God's mercy when His judgment is merited. Step 3: Seek God's Face -- not His hand of provision, but His face of fellowship. At that point we are ready for... Step 4: Turning from our wicked ways. Yes, our wicked ways. God is not talking about the world; He is still talking about His people. When we come face to face again with our God, we do not see untangling ourselves from the sins and pleasures of this world as a religious duty, but a liberating delight. Once we have met God's conditions, He is then free to fulfill His promise to hear, forgive and heal.
In 2018, on the Fourth of July, we ought to celebrate with picnics and fireworks and concerts and games, but as Founder John Adams suggested, we must not forget God!
Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave! (The National Anthem, 4th Stanza)
Sunday, July 1st, 2018 -- We ought to be crying out to God in repentant prayer for our nation every day. We are in a war for our nation's soul and our nation's very survival. It falls upon our generation to discern the times and know what our nation ought to do (1 Chron. 12:32). We must begin on our knees before God. But the least we can do in our churches and homes is to pray for our nation this coming Sunday before Independence Day, taking at least five minutes of that time upon our knees in repentant prayer for our own sins, and the sins of our nation.