The Response Saturday, August 6, 2011.
Our country is deeply divided. Only the period of the 1850’s saw America more torn within as now. How serious is the situation? Lincoln, on his way towards his great historic role, clearly defined the seriousness June 16, 1858 by quoting Christ:
The seriousness in this present Great Awakening is clearly recognized by Texas Governor Rick Perry who acted boldly.
You can join him and Christian leaders from across the Nation in this: A high-quality web stream of The Response will be available at TheResponseUSA.com starting at 9:00am CDT on August 6th.
America is in the midst of a historic crisis. We have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters. The youth of America are in grave peril economically, socially, and, most of all, morally. There are threats emerging within our nation and beyond our borders beyond our power to solve.
Our nation is at a crossroads. More and more Americans are perceiving the critical juncture we find ourselves in – the future of our nation is determined by the courage of its people: first, in recognizing the magnitude of our common trouble; then, by uniting to seize the unique opportunity this moment offers us. Our response can, in part, determine our future and define for our children – and their children – what kind of nation they will govern, serve, and lead.
As a nation, we must come together, call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy according to His grace, mercy, and kindness towards us. A historic crisis facing our nation and threatening our future demands a historic response from the church. We must, as a people, return to the faith and hope of our fathers. The ancient paths of great men were blazed in prayer – the humility of the truly great men of history was revealed in their recognition of the power and might of Jesus to save all who call on His great name.
Our hope is found in the One who might turn towards our nation in its time of great need – if we, as a nation would turn to Him in repentance, prayer, and fasting. The call of God to His people in times of great trouble is to gather together and call on Him with one voice, one heart, and a unified desire to see great blessing and great glory come to our nation again. The power of unified prayer from a humble gathering of the saints is found in the hope that He might answer us, and turn the tide of trouble and threats that stand against us.
Therefore, on August 6, thousands will gather to Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, to pray for a historic breakthrough for our country and a renewed sense of moral purpose. We want the presence, power, and person of Christ to fill our nation and turn the hearts of millions to righteousness, peace, and joy in Him. We want the blessing and favor of a Holy God who loves righteousness and wants to see righteousness exalt a nation in our generation. We want to see real change across our nation that only our God can perform. Will you join us in Houston? Will you pray, fast, and believe with us for a mighty move of God in our nation again?
There is hope for America. It lies in heaven, and we will find it on our knees.
Why a Solemn Assembly of Prayer and Fasting?
In Joel chapter two, an ancient Hebrew prophet speaks to a nation in crisis and gives her God’s solution: gather together, repent of their sins, and pray to God to intervene on their behalf. In that day the command was for everyone to stop what they were doing and gather for a sacred assembly to turn to God with all their hearts, “with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning” (Joel 2:12).
Why did God desire fasting, weeping, and mourning – or, to put it differently, contrition and humility – from the people? A “sacred assembly” (Joel 2:15) was a gathering that served a few purposes: first, in gathering, the people were acknowledging that their nation had drifted away from its foundations in morality and faith. Because of this moral decline, the people were not prepared to face the external threats rising up against them: economic, political, and military in nature. God wanted His people to understand that their internal threats (moral decline) were far greater than their external threats (economic crisis and military invasion).
In gathering together, God wanted the people instructed so that they would know why their nation was in peril. God wanted the people – from the children and nursing babes to the leaders and priests (Joel 2:16) – to all completely understand both the nature of the crisis at hand and the only solution that would deliver them from their great crisis: God Himself. God ordained in that hour of history that prayer would serve as the only way of escape from the mounting trouble. Why? Because only God had the power to solve both the internal moral decline and the external economic and military threats. All three were unsolvable by human means and human solutions – but God had a solution that could be found in His great mercy.
In gathering together, therefore, the people could cry out together with their leaders in humility and repentance led by their priests (Joel 2:17). There is power from heaven available to those who gather together and pray. We see a “Joel 2” gathering at the beginning of the book of Acts with a “Joel 2” answer in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2). The greatest missions movements in history – starting with the Apostle Paul – were launched out of prayer gatherings like the one in Acts 13. The great Catholic, Protestant, and Student Volunteer missions movements were all launched out of gatherings of prayer. The greatest revivals in history, such as the First and Second Great Awakenings, were also birthed out of sustained, persistent gatherings of prayer. Dramatic things have happened throughout many generations when the people of God come together and seek His face. Who knows what can happen in our generation when we gather together to worship Jesus, fast and pray, and believe for great change in our nation?
Historic Precedence for National Prayer
On March 23, 1798, President John Adams declared a national day of humility, fasting and prayer:
That the citizens of these States, abstaining on that day from their customary worldly occupations, offer their devout addresses to the Father of Mercies… with the deepest humility, acknowledge before God the manifold sins and transgressions with which we are justly chargeable as individuals and as a nation, beseeching Him at the same time, of His infinite grace, through the Redeemer of the World, freely to remit all our offenses, and to incline us by His Holy Spirit to that sincere repentance and reformation which may afford us reason to hope for His inestimable favor and heavenly benediction.
On April 13, 1841, President John Tyler declared a national day of fasting upon the death of President William Harrison: When a Christian people feel themselves to be overtaken by a great public calamity, it becomes them to humble themselves under the dispensation of Divine Providence, to recognize His righteous government over the children of men, to acknowledge His goodness in time past, as well as their own unworthiness, and to supplicate His merciful protection for the future…to impress all minds with a sense of the uncertainty of human things and of the dependence of nations, as well as individuals, upon our Heavenly Parent… We may all with one accord join in humble and reverential approach to Him in whose hands we are, invoking Him to inspire us with a proper spirit and temper of heart and mind under these frowns of His providence and still to bestow His gracious benedictions upon our Government and our country.
On March 16, 1776, the Continental Congress passed without dissent a resolution presented by General William Livingston declaring: Congress….desirous…to have people of all ranks and degrees duly impressed with a solemn sense of God’s superintending providence, and of their duty, devoutly to rely…on his aid and direction…do earnestly recommend Friday, the 17th day of May be observed by the colonies as a Day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer; that we may, with united hearts, confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and, by sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease God’s righteous displeasure, and, through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain this pardon and forgiveness.
On June 14, 1783, George Washington wrote a prayer to governors of the newly freed states on disbanding army. On the plaque in St. Paul’s Chapel, NY, and Pohick Church, VA, where Washington was vestryman 1762-84: Almighty God; We make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy Holy protection; and Thou wilt incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government; and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field. And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the Characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
On April 15, 1775, just four days before the Battle of Lexington, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, led by John Hancock, declared: In circumstances dark as these, it becomes us, as men and Christians, to reflect that, whilst every prudent measure should be taken to ward off the impending judgments…the 11th of May next be set apart as a Day of Public Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer…to confess the sins…to implore the Forgiveness of all our Transgression.
On April 19, 1775, in a Proclamation of a Day of Fasting and Prayer, Connecticut Governor Jonathan Trumbull beseeched that: God would graciously pour out His Holy Spirit on us to bring us to a thorough repentance and effectual reformation that our iniquities may not be our ruin; that He would restore, preserve and secure the liberties of this and all the other British American colonies, and make the land a mountain of Holiness, and habitation of righteousness forever.
On June 12, 1775, less than two months after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, where was fired “the shot heard ‘round the world,” the Continental Congress, under President John Hancock, declared: Congress…considering the present critical, alarming and calamitous state…do earnestly recommend, that Thursday, the 12th of July next, be observed by the inhabitants of all the English Colonies on this Continent, as a Day of Public Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer, that we may with united hearts and voices, unfeignedly confess and deplore our many sins and offer up our joint supplications to the Allwise, Omnipotent and merciful Disposer of all Events, humbly beseeching Him to forgive our iniquities…It is recommended to Christians of all denominations to assemble for public worship and to abstain from servile labor and recreations of said day.
The reaction just as clearly defines the division in This House. “I have followed religion and politics closely for 35 years, and I have never seen a governor initiate and lead this kind of Christians-only prayer rally,” said Barry W. Lynn, executive director of the Washington-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State. (Reported in the New York Times) Google found 659,000 places this prayer and fasting response was criticized. Here is an example:
Groups gather opposition to Perry prayer meeting
AUSTIN, Texas — Civil liberties groups are gathering together in opposition to Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s day of prayer and fasting this weekend.
The groups, which say they represent tens of thousands of Texans, oppose the governor’s prayer meeting on Saturday because they say it disrespects the separation of church and state. They also complain that the groups organizing the event hold extreme positions on freedom of religion, homosexuality and the role of religion in government.
Perry has rejected the criticisms as unfair.
The Texas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is hosting an alternative event in Houston Friday night. The Texas Freedom Network sent Perry a letter signed by 10,000 people saying he is using religion for political gain. People for the American Way criticized the event for including intolerant groups.
Why not join “The Response” Saturday?