I attended a National Day of Prayer event at noon today, May 7th, in the town where I live. There were a fair amount of people in attendance, around 40 or 50 adults or so. It was an enjoyable time of prayer. It was cool seeing people from our town come together and take time out of their day to pray.
After the service ended, I talked to a couple of friends and then decided to head back home. When I was walking out of the church, I overheard two older ladies talking to one another. One of the ladies said, "I sure do wish more pastors would have come and attended this meeting." The second lady said, "Well, maybe they didn't know about it." The first lady answered back, "Oh I'm sure they knew. It was even in the paper and everything." Then... silence.
It saddened me to hear their conversation. That conversation shouldn't have happened in the first place. Where in the world were the pastors and spiritual leaders of our town?!
It's one thing to have pastors discussing that they wished more of their people or congregation had come to the prayer meeting. It's a whole other thing when the congregation is wishing more of their pastors had come to the prayer meeting.
That's sad. That's backwards. That's messed up.
How can we expect our churches and our towns to change, let alone our nation to change, if the pastors themselves aren't given to prayer!? I'm pretty sure pastors are to lead by example in word and in action... at least that's what good leaders do. Great leaders even tell people to follow their example!
That's what Jesus did. (Matthew 16:24, John 13:15)
That's what Paul did. (1 Corinthians 11:1, Ephesians 3:17)
I realize some of the pastors may have had something come up or had prior arrangements. Maybe some of them locked themselves in their office all day to pray on the National Day of Prayer. Maybe some were praying in a different town than where they pastor. (I was praying in DL and I pastor a church in PR.) Maybe they were leading a prayer service at their own church. Or maybe they were playing golf.
Who knows? Well, they do... And so does God.
But, no matter what the reasons are, it's pretty sad to only have a handful of pastors from our community attend a community prayer meeting.
Thank God there were a number of leaders from our community who did come to pray though. We are all called to be ministers of the Gospel. We are all called to pray. (Whether you are in full or part time ministry as a job/calling or not.)
I hope the pastors and spiritual leaders of our town are men and women given to prayer. I hope regular prayer is a discipline and form of worship they have committed themselves to.
Having a National Day of Prayer is awesome. I don't want to diminish or downsize that, but praying only one day out of the year for our nation is not going to be enough.
What if every day was a national day of prayer?! What kind of change would we see in our country if that were the case?
What if every day was a personal day of prayer? What kind of change would we see in our own lives if that were the case?
2 Chronicles 7:14 says,
if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
If My people humble themselves, AND pray, AND seek My face, AND turn from their wicked ways... THEN I will hear them, AND forgive them, AND heal their land.
Those actions are not to be a one time event, they are to become a lifestyle.
In the book Turn by Max Lucado, he says:
Page 45- "When we work, we work. But when we pray, God works. Scripture attaches breathtaking power to prayer." (Matthew 17:20, Mark 11:23-24, James 5:16)
Page 47- "God is not moved by men of standing, but by men of kneeling."
Page 81- "The healing of the land begins with the people of God. The nation changes when God's people change. The culture changes when the church changes. And that change begins when we repent. Genuine national repentance says: America needs to change and the change begins with me."
Change begins with me. Revival begins with me.
I am all about change. I want revival. I want to get anything and everything out of my life that God doesn't want me to have in my life.
My prayer is John 3:30 which says,
He must increase, but I must decrease.
I want to get out of God's way. I want Him to use me as He sees fit. I want to disappear in the Lord.
But, I guarantee with positive change, with revival, with growth in the Lord, there will also be some tough change for us as Christians. Revival and persecution almost always go hand in hand.
2 Timothy 3:12 says,
Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
All. Will suffer.
If we aren't suffering persecution... then are we living godly? (I don't like that question any more than you do.)
2 Timothy 3:12 in the Message Bible says,
Anyone who wants to live all out for Christ is in for a lot of trouble; there's no getting around it.
Are we living all out for Jesus? If we are, then it is just a matter of time until trouble, suffering, and persecution find us.
I don't say this to frighten us, but I do want us to be aware and be prepared. I don't necessarily want us to be shaken, but I do want us to be awakened.
It is not that we are praying for these things to come against us or thanking God for these hardships and troubles that will come our way. (They will come without us praying and believing for them.) But we can thank God for being with us and helping us get through those tough times. And God can and will deliver us from those situations.
God is for us! We are more than conquerors! No weapon shall prosper! All things work toward our good! (Romans 8:31, Romans 8:37, Isaiah 54:17, Romans 8:28)
In John 16:33 Jesus said,
"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
In this world, Jesus said we will face tribulation- pressure, affliction, persecution, trouble, anguish.
This stuff will happen. BUT...
Be of good cheer- be comforted, have courage, have boldness and confidence.
We can have peace. We can live lives of rest and peace when we are connected to God and in communication and fellowship with Him, when we are people of prayer. God will give us the cheer, courage, boldness, and confidence we need.
Ask God if you are to put aside time to pray/how often.
Ask God what/who/where to pray for.
Ask God how to pray.
Ask God if there are any hindrances or time wasters in your life that are holding you back from praying regularly.
Ask God if there is anything that is keeping your prayers from being answered.
Don't pray just because I said so, or because it's a good thing. Pray because God told you so. Obedience is better than sacrifice. (1 Samuel 15:22)
Make sure your prayer is a conversation with God. It should go both ways. You are not talking AT God, but talking WITH God.