The next scheduled National Day of Repentance is Wednesday, April 30. President Abraham Lincoln called for a day of Prayer, Fasting, and Humiliation on April 30, 1863. People prayed only in the North, the South being at war with the North and disinclined to do anything at the behest of Lincoln. Now I would never contend that God was on one side or the other in a war; His aim is that we come onto His side. But He does have a habit of responding to heartfelt prayer, and He surely hated slavery. Two months after this day of repentance, the two sides fought the Battle of Gettysburg; and the tide turned permanently in favor of the Union.
Some would say, “Well, if God hates slavery would not the tide have inevitably turned,” and the answer would be a resounding No. God hates lots of things that abide in our world. But He has a habit of responding to heartfelt prayer.
On April 30, 1789, our first president, George Washington, took his oath of office and gave his first inaugural address. Washington led the members of government onto their knees in prayer. He dedicated the fledgling nation to God, like his New England forefathers building a biblical “city on a hill.” Some would say, “Just a minute; Washington was a Virginian and everybody knows the Virginia colony was a commercial venture with plenty of exploitation of black slaves and native people.” They would be right about that, but they would be wrong to ignore the reality of Washington’s life – a life bathed in prayer, worship, and repentance as a lifestyle – a life that shows his spiritual forefathers to be the Pilgrims and the Puritans of Massachusetts Bay, men and women who introduced the concept of the covenant to the Americas.
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Washington led a nation that was weak, disorganized, and virtually bankrupt. Bathed in prayer and dedication to God, it survived and prospered to become the greatest nation on earth, and the one most blessed by God after Israel.
This year’s National Day of Repentance officially links arms with the National Day of Prayer, one day later on Thursday, May 1. NDP’s theme is “One Voice United in Prayer”; it comes from Romans 15:6, in which Paul calls the Body to be One in prayer and praise to the Lord Jesus. We link arms unofficially with “Washington: Man of Prayer”, an event set to occur in the congressional Statuary Hall one week later on May 7. All three observances will focus on loving God and answering His call to repent and re-focus – on Him. We do not believe God will reward our humility by lifting us out of the national quicksand in which we seem trapped. We believe, rather, that He has never abandoned us, but that we must return to the shelter of His wings if we would give Him the kind of access to us that permits His blessing and healing to occur. That is what He says in His own Word (and American history supports as His pattern.)
In California alone, we have seen two kinds of drought healed through prayer-led action. The last drought in California began in 2008, and hundreds – a critical mass for that time – prayed daily asking God to break it. Prophetic words were uttered in the state that God would break the drought in its third year if people prayed – and that is precisely what happened. In a man-made drought, a federal judge – relying on bogus science – threw the state into economic chaos by closing the pumps in the Sacramento River Delta and killing some forty thousand jobs. Suits were brought and presentations made – and again, prayer was offered daily that hearts might be softened. After some eighteen months, Judge Oliver Wanger announced he was unimpressed by the science for closing the pumps; and the water again began to flow in the delta.
At this time, God is calling for a thoroughgoing repentance in His Church for California’s history of leading the nation in shedding innocent blood, covenant breaking, sexual sin, and idolatry. He does not want a pound of flesh from us, but He does require a ton of re-focus. In the National Day of Repentance, we are calling on all churches – across the nation – to set aside May 4 as Repentance Sunday. The day can be observed in any way each congregation and ministry desires – but as one Body. Let this prayer be the beginning of restoration of Constitution and Covenant. Let us repent not because it “works,” but because it is right. Let God be the one who works as we get out of His way.
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Photo credit: Sharon (Flickr
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