Reprinted with permission from Religious Broadcasting magazine, May 1996
July 1996 – Hoping to reel in the big one, the fisherman casts his line, only to have his hook sink into something so strong he can’t reel it in. As he turns his reel, his boat moves slowly toward the place where his hook is caught firmly in the crevice of a rock. Prayer is like that. When we cast out our most sincere prayers, they take hold on the Rock; the Rock doesn’t budge, but it changes our course of action as we draw nearer and nearer to Him.
The Body of Christ in America today needs desperately to be casting our prayers to the Rock of our Salvation. Somewhere along the way, through two centuries of accumulating personal successes, immeasurable spiritual blessings, and incredible wealth, we lost the sense of urgency for prayer. The late Leonard Ravenhill, perceptive observer of our time, speaks a sobering truth for America: “The self-sufficient do not pray, the self-satisfied will not pray, the self-righteous cannot pray.”
Sadly, we have become self-sufficient, boasting in our own abilities. We hold aloft our trophies, proclaiming, “Look what we have done!” We neglect the gracious Giver of all good gifts. We have become self-satisfied, prideful in our meaningless, material accomplishments. We rest, pampered and apathetic, in the arms of self-serving affluence. We forget the One who offers true satisfaction. We have become self-righteous, resting lethargically in the sunlight streaming through our stained glass windows. We are arrogant, even about our faith. We ignore the Vine who says, “Without me you can do nothing.”
It is imperative that we not fail to cast our fervent prayers to the Rock. In his 1863 Proclamation for a National Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer, President Abraham Lincoln said, “It behooves us, then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.” In the context of the 1990s, Lincoln’s words have the ring of prophecy – words spoken to his fellows in a time of internal war and personal tragedies, yet words which seem so very appropriate for us today.
If we do not heed the warnings made obvious by our critically ill culture, the illness could be terminal. Time and time again God has judged nations by the character of His people. When His people failed in their faith, their nations fell. We must cast our humble prayers to the Rock! America’s believers – broadcasters and brickmasons, preachers and plumbers, judges and janitors, editors and educators – must spend time on our faces before God Almighty, repenting of our personal sins as well as our national sins.
Considering the cultural and spiritual crises in our land, when the need is so overwhelming, how does one begin to pray? First, every man, woman and child who claims the name of Christ should pray in earnest for a deepening personal relationship with the Savior. Daily personal confession and repentance is prerequisite for a life of faith. Then we should each pray for our families; pray God’s power and protection over them and pray that each one will be Christ’s light to the darkness.
Second, believers should pray for their workplaces or classrooms, wherever they spend their day away from home. And we who use words, spoken or written, as our tool in what we call ministry, must place our emphasis first on The Word. Pray for co-workers, classmates, teachers, supervisors, bosses, subordinates; pray for God to use you in your ministry of words to bring honor and glory to Jesus Christ.
Next, pray for the unsaved – family, friends and acquaintances, co-workers, and others whom God puts on your heart. The DeMoss Foundation urges us, in The Rebirth of America, to pray collectively “for the millions of people in our nation who are trapped by sin.”
Then, pray for those in civil authority over you. Pray for your city and county officials, for your governor and other state leaders. Pray for our President, for your Congressman and for your U.S. Senators. Pray for the judges and attorneys who direct traffic in our courtrooms. Pray collectively for all those in positions of national leadership. Pray that Godly men and women will be elected and appointed to public office.
Finally, pray for leaders in the Body of Christ across America and around the world. Begin with your pastor and other church staff members, elders and deacons or board members of your church, your Sunday school teacher and other volunteers who devote their time to lifting up Jesus Christ. Pray for your denominational leaders and executives. And finally, pray for leaders in the countless ministries and missions God has put in place to help spread the Gospel. Commit your heart and life to prayer, our avenue of communication with a loving God. The great spiritual movements in all history have usually been prompted by crises not unlike what we now face; they have always been preceded and promulgated by prayer.
It is critical that we be about casting our constant prayers to the Rock of our Salvation.