Live as people who are free,
not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil,
but living as servants of God.
1 Peter 2:16 ESV
This week, His Own Heart moves into Week 2 of its four-week journey, PRAY-ing to Make a Difference. If you walked with us through the praise portion of this effort in Week 1, welcome back! If you’re joining us for the first time, we’re so grateful to have you with us!
Let’s do a quick refresher of our plan for anyone who might need it before jumping into this week’s post, shall we? His Own Heart is asking any willing person or group to join us in a communal, concerted effort as we pray daily through the weeks leading up to the November 6 midterm election in the United States of America. We’re praying specifically for the wisdom of its people, its leaders and the nation as a whole. It is important, as always, for readers to know that this project is in no way linked to any specific political party or candidate.
Having made that point, though, I am compelled to stress to you the fact that the next two weeks present an opportunity for Christ-followers in American culture – an opportunity that is both critical and crucial to the future of our country.
And, to this end, our time as well as our effort is an imperative means for doing thst.
As this post is published to the website, just two Sundays remain until Election Day 2018. I would like to restate an idea from last week’s post: as we weigh the issues at stake, consider the candidates and take our turns voting in booths across the nation, you and I – as followers of Jesus Christ – have the opportunity to wait with effectiveness by committing to stay in direct conversation with God through sincere, dedicated prayer about the issues at hand.
So this week we continue our prayer journey using as a pattern the acronym PRAY over the coming days as a blueprint for actively seeking to make a difference in conjunction with our Father, the Difference Maker:
- Week 1: Praise;
- Week 2: Repentance;
- Week 3: Asking (or intercession); and
- Week 4: Yielding with thankful hearts to God’s will for America’s future.
As we move through Week 2, then, our prayer effort will focus primarily upon repentance for our own sins as well as the sins that America as a nation has committed against a holy, righteous, loving God.
Because, like it or not, the pattern the Jesus gave His disciples when they asked that He teach them to pray included a section specific to one’s repentance (see Luke 11:1-4, Matthew 6:9-13). It’s a healthy, necessary part of our relationship with Christ.
Christian teacher Mike Mobley gets right up in our faces with the truth that, while repentance may not make for the easiest of conversations, it’s a necessary one for Christ-followers to have:
Repentance isn’t one of those popular topics to discuss for most people. In fact, a lot of followers of Christ (me included) often push this subject to the back of the line behind other current trending ones. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that we don’t want to offend people or “judge” them. [An expanded explanation of this topic is available here. ]
Are we more concerned with how we might offend others or if we are offending God?
Are we really loving others if we are content as they continue to sin?
We have got to be able to give each other a wake up call in love. Maybe we need to be stern with how we interact with others. Maybe we actually need to [figuratively] shake each other at times. I’m not too sure, but one thing’s for sure…if we witness someone about to walk into a fire…would we not do everything we could to stop them? We need to take that same intentionality [as Christ Himself does] and stop being too soft with others when it comes to repentance.
Martin Luther said, “All of a Christian’s life is one of repentance.” As we continue on one day at a time, we must not shrink back from calling ourselves or others to repentance. When we don’t repent, it offends God (since sin offends God). Repentance is a command, and it’s for everyone’s own good.
It’s a deception to think of sin being okay whether it’s a little bit here or there.
It’s a deception to think we can just go on sinning because Jesus paid it all and we’re covered under “grace.”
As we proclaim Christ and live in such a way that we desire including continuing to sin, not only are we lying to others about what the Bible says, but we are lying to ourselves that God knows better than we do. We are leading people down a dangerous path of continued stumbling blocks. We are in essence slapping God in the face, saying, “Thanks for forgiveness…but I’ll take it from here.” God will not tolerate this.
When we proclaim what Christ has done for us on the cross we are believing His Word and that sin is not worth [walking away from His gift]. We grow in our walk with the Lord and the continued removal of sin from our lives. In these moments, we are truly living as new creations and the old versions of ourselves pass away. We are trusting God that what He says is true and that He knows better [than we know]. (Brackets mine.)
Mobley’s explanation may be a tough one to accept, but any Christ-follower who is genuinely serious about his or her communication with God will heed his words. And frankly, Western – certainly American – culture is in dire need of hearing and acting on the truth of Mobley’s point.
With this idea in mind, in fact, I would love for you to use the following prayer adapted from David’s plea for forgiveness in Psalm 51 as we lay at the feet of the Father this week our sins as individuals and as a country.
Good and gracious Father, I thank You for Your love and mercy that by definition are ever-present, never waning, and available to all who receive them by faith. Like so many of Your Son’s followers who find themselves in tension with our culture, I humbly repent of my own sins as well as the sins that have so crippled our country. I am sorry – truly sorry – that these United States You’ve given us the privilege of inhabiting for so many years have fallen so far away from the moral and civil instructions set forth in Your Word.
As a means of carrying out this repentance on an individual level, I not only regret the rebellion currently raging against You in my country, but I also resolve to turn from any part I have played in supporting its wrongdoing – whether through action or through silence. According to Your promises which cannot lie and the blood shed by Your Son for mankind, please blot out this country’s transgressions as well as my own; wash our land thoroughly from our rebellious iniquity; cleanse us from our individual and national sins!
For each of us knows very well the specifics of our transgressions; we are reminded with each day’s news of what our communal disregard for You has cost and continues to cost our nation. By ignoring Your Word and turning away from Your law in government, communities and even families, we have sinned primarily and unwisely against You.
Openly and without argument we admit that any discipline you choose to mete out to the United States for said deeds is just. We are without excuse for our actions.
Yet in the Name of Your Son, our Redeemer, Savior and Healer Jesus Christ – yes, in Jesus’ Name – we plead for Your mercy, asking with contrite spirits that You create in each of us – and in America – a clean heart, O God. Renew within us a right spirit of unity and a thirst for righteousness that comes from being members of Your eternal family.
We beg of You, Lord, have mercy upon us. Don’t cast us from Your presence, although by rights You can – and in light of recent blasphemy committed against You by this country – You should.
Thank You for Your forgiveness. Thank You for Your grace. Thank You for the unfathomable sacrifice of Your Son, Jesus Christ, in Whose Name we pray, Amen
– Copyright 2018 Carole Anne Hallyburton. All rights reserved.