Hundreds of thousands of Christians from numerous denominations and independent churches spent at least 3 minutes in their worship services yesterday falling on their knees before God praying for America. This prayer event, dubbed a Call 2 Fall, was the brainchild of the Family Research Council (FRC), the nation’s largest Christian policy organization. Skeptics from the press believed that Sunday’s event was a public relations ploy to draw attention to key issues of interest to the FRC. Another secular reporter remarked that the religious right had become so discouraged that key leaders of this movement were using prayer as a remedy for its discouragement.
Before we discuss the reasons for the Call 2 Fall, let me explain what churches actually did on July 5. The vision of the event was to follow up the nation’s July 4 independence celebration with a spiritual act of declaring the church’s dependence on God. Churches conveyed a simple message to their members that in the midst of the economic, cultural and spiritual problems at work in our nation, we need mercy and grace from God.
Although individual churches pointed out different problems as reasons for the faithful to call upon God, there was a universal declaration that many of our nation’s woes are not the result of “sinners gone wild” but rather the absence of a clear Christian witness from the church. The preachers said that even though the nation celebrated independence from the king of England on the 4th, the church is recognizing and celebrating its need for dependence on its own king, Jesus Christ, on July 5th.
Yesterday most preachers said that God is calling each of us to be the “salt and light” to our families, our communities and our nation.
In my Call 2 Fall sermon, I told my congregation that I was going to teach them how to R.A.P. The acronym R.A.P. helps listeners remember that repentance, alignment and promotion are the steps to getting unstuck spiritually and moving into new levels of personal growth.
Repentance involves self-examination, taking the blame for shortcomings, and recognizing our need for the power of the Holy Spirit to live a Christian life. Second, alignment involves acknowledging that living for Christ involves personally deciding that we will walk in Christian love, despite persecution or ridicule. Third, promotion and increased influence comes to those who walk humbly with God. The Lord promises that He will give grace to the humble, lifting them into position. I stated to the audience that they can change the world by becoming increasingly more like Christ. R.A.P. can change our lives and the world around us.
This kind of preaching was typical of the messages delivered yesterday–heartfelt words spoken to people that understand that sometimes Christian activists get the cart before the horse. Sometimes we get so involved in strategies, structures and grassroots mobilization that we forget that everything we do must be undergirded by the spiritual disciplines of prayer and personal faithfulness to Christian principles. Although congregational leaders hope that this event will become a major national movement, yesterday was a call to each and every American Christian to remember that we are each responsible to become an individual watchman on the wall of our nation.
As a member of FRC’s founder Tony Perkins pastor’s council, I had the privilege of hearing about this event months before churches began to get involved.
At that time, I could not help but think that only one thing could turn things around for America – a spiritual awakening. Historically the awakenings of American history were essentially course correction devices that God used to bring America back to her original course and vision.
America has experienced at least two occasions in which the nation turned back to Christian beliefs and church attendance in great numbers. The First Great Awakening, which happened during 1730-1755, and the Second Great Awakening took place from 1790-1840.
We, the church, must remember that we are not called to simply win arguments, court cases or debates. We are called to win people. We must be a prophetic voice to the culture while maintaining the ability to speak to the needs of individual people.
Charles Finney was a major revivalist in the Second Great Awakening.
Finney’s work in Rochester, N.Y. in the 1830s resulted in the majority of the city turning to Christ. What Finney describes here is the kind of impact and outreach we need today.
“The greatness of the work at Rochester, at that time, attracted so much of the attention of ministers and Christians throughout the State of New York, throughout New England, and in many parts of the United States, that the very fame of it was an efficient instrument in the hands of the Spirit of God in promoting the greatest revival of religion throughout the land, that this country had then ever witnessed… One hundred thousand were reported as having connected themselves with churches, as the results of that great revival. This is unparalleled in the history of the church, and of the progress of religion.” He spoke of this having been done in just one year!
May God revive His church and shift the culture back to its original moorings. Please join me in praying that we hear the Call 2 Fall every day.