“My creed leads me to think that prayer is efficacious, and surely a day’s asking God to overrule all events for good is not lost.” – James Gilmour
I hope we can agree that if there was ever a time we should be praying for our nation it is now. Sickness and strife are driving America to its knees. Let us make good use of such posture.
E.M. Bounds wrote a classic on the subject, titled On Prayer. He writes: “The prayers of God’s saints are the capital stock in heaven by which Christ carries on His great work upon the earth. Great throes and mighty convulsions in the world have come about as a result of these prayers. The earth is changed, revolutionized; angels move on more powerful, more rapid wings; and God’s policy is shaped when the prayers of His people are more numerous and more efficient.” Prayer is the Christian’s lifeline to God, and with it lives are changed for eternity.
In the midst of our nation’s afflictions, it appears Americans are turning to prayer. Discussing religion and politics at a neighborhood barbeque may be considered bad form. But a new survey commissioned by the non-profit, non-partisan Presidential Prayer Team shows that the mixing of prayer and politics is actually pretty common, often producing surprising outcomes.
In the general public, 45 percent of adults claim to pray every day. An additional 20 percent pray at least once a week, but not daily. Another 17 percent say they pray irregularly. Only 15 percent say they never pray. Projected across the adult population these statistics estimate that more than 160 million adults pray each week. That is 30 million more than what voted in the 2016 presidential election.
While a popular narrative suggests that people who consistently pray remain at arms-length from politics, the survey found just the opposite. Those in the general public who pray regularly are more likely than those who do not to pay “a lot” of attention to news about politics and government. Among people who pray at least once a week, 30 percent pay a lot of attention to such news compared to just 21 percent among people who pray less often or never. The general public survey also revealed that some issues are of greater interest than are others to praying adults. The issues of greatest interest included support for senior citizens, national defense, crime prevention, global religious persecution and domestic religious freedom.
The survey noted that we also pray for people. The survey said most Americans pray for people we know, our nation’s leaders and members of the military.
Be encouraged my friends. There are prayers being lifted up every day from a variety of groups throughout Missouri. In just the last two weeks I have had the privilege of praying for religious liberty at the recent Prayerfest held at the State Capitol. The day before I had the privilege of praying for America’s news media at a Pastors’ Prayer Breakfast in St. Louis sponsored by the Constitutional Coalition and other groups. Other prayer services have been held throughout the state, many led by Missouri Baptists. Rick Sharp, pastor of Fairport Baptist Church in Dekalb County, where he also serves as the chaplain for the county sheriff’s office, joined other area pastors on Sept. 26 in leading a community-wide service called “Prayer Event 2020.” And there is more coming.
On. Jan. 6 Concord Baptist Church will host its annual Legislative Prayer service and the following day the annual Governor’s Prayer Breakfast will be held. I was just asked to serve as the State Capitol coordinator for National Day of Prayer and I look forward to that special event on May 6.
As we approach such occasions, Bounds reminds us: “It must never be forgotten that Almighty God rules this world. He is not an absentee God. His hand is always on the controls of human affairs. He is present everywhere in the concerns of time.” God rules the world just as He rules the church – through prayer. We must preach and teach this over and over.
In dealing with mankind, Bounds points out, nothing is more important to God than prayer. Prayer, likewise, should be important to us. Failure to pray is failure in all of life. As Bounds explains, it is failure of duty, service and spiritual progress, and it is only by prayer that God can help people and, thus, the nations.
Let us commit ourselves to a new season of prayer for our nation. The Lord is waiting to hear from His children. May we obey and be blessed by the words of John 16:24: “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.”