If We Pray Only to Win an Election
In 1746 Jonathan Edwards was inspired by a “Memorial” penned by a Scottish Presbyterian minister named John Erskine, appealing to the people of Scotland and elsewhere to unite in prayer for the “revival of religion.” Erskine sent a single copy of his Memorial to Edwards who was so moved by it, set about to write a response. His response, intended to be a letter, grew into a book which was given the rather laborious, but remarkably astute title: “A Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of all God’s People in Extraordinary Prayer for the Revival of Religion and the Advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on Earth, Pursuant to Scripture Promises and Prophecies.”
What followed was a Great Awakening. A revival so powerful that it swept continents and changed nations.
In 1794 New England there was a man of prayer whose name was Isaac Backus, a Baptist pastor sent out an urgent plea for prayer for revival to pastors of every Christian denomination in the United States. Churches across the land joined together in a network of prayer meetings the first Monday of each month to pray. It was not long until revival came.
As the revival spread, there was in the Kentucky frontier a Scotch-Irish preacher named James McGready who pastored three small churches in Logan County. He wrote in his diary that the winter of 1799 was a season of “weeping and mourning with the people of God,” as lawlessness continued to prevail. McGready was such a man of prayer he promoted a concert of united prayer every Monday, and urged his people to pray for him every Saturday at sunset and every Sunday at sunrise. In the summer of 1800 the great Kentucky revival began and McGready had to call for help, regardless of denominational affiliation.
This was the apex of the Second Great Awakening, and out of it poured the modern missionary movement, the abolition of slavery, Bible societies, and the Sunday School movement.
In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s the church was seduced into believing that the downward spiral of American morality could be stemmed by the evangelical vote. Jerry Falwell and others set about to make Washington feel the power of the Moral Majority. Christian leaders warned Washington, D.C. that they would experience the full weight of the Christian vote, and by it we would turn the nation back to righteousness.
We voted. . . . and the cesspool of American morality only thickened.
We took the words of Zechariah and set them on the shelf for better than three decades, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might, nor by power, but MY SPIRIT, says the Lord of Hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6) My greatest fear on this, election day, is that we may have again fallen prey to this great delusion – that government can fix what is broken in America.
By appealing to the fleshly urges of carnal man to exert his own power and exercise his own will, even for good, the powers of darkness convinced good and Godly men to abandon the power of prayer in exchange for the power of human effort. It is now 2020 and apparently we are still convinced that the next election will right the ship, if we can just get enough Christians to vote for the right candidate. The searchlight is on full power attempting to determine which candidate is the “most spiritual.” (Or, the least spiritual) Believe me, it is not the heart of Joe Biden or Donald Trump that we need to examine – it is our own heart; the heart of the nation.
I am convinced that placing our hopes in electing the right occupant for the White House will fall woefully short of what we really need in this nation that has turned its collective heart hard toward the things of God. We don’t need a change in the White House nearly so much as we need a heart change in the nation. We need less to see the power of left-wing liberals broken and more to see the heart of a wicked nation broken and contrite before a holy God.
Josh Rogan once said, “This nation has a mental health problem disguised as a gun problem and a tyranny problem disguised as a security problem.” I would go just a bit further to say we have a spiritual problem disguised as a political problem. Our nation’s problem is not political; it is spiritual. Spiritual problems are not solved politically. They are not solved in the voting booth, but in the prayer closet.
Dr. A.T. Pierson once said, “There has never been a spiritual awakening in any country or locality that did not begin in united prayer.” I am watching daily as an amazing spiritual movement is rising up in America. My prayer is that it is not a movement meant simply to sway the results of an election, but that it is a movement that will eventually sway the hearts of a nation that has given itself over to idolatry and wickedness. Those of us who say “in God we trust” must fall to our knees now, from one coast to the other in urgent, united prayer; prayer that is bigger than “God save America!” We need prayer that gets to root of the problem by crying out to God not just to see a political party in power, but to break us, to stab us in the heart with holy conviction of sin, to reveal through supernatural revelation the deep sinfulness and utter depravity to which we have descended as a people; a conviction so deep that we weep in sorrow for our sin and cry out to God for mercy.
THIS KIND OF PRAYER BEGINS WITH THE CHURCH. It begins not with the unregenerate; those blinded by the God of this world – it begins with the redeemed; with the Bride. Look again at the very precisely articulated title of Jonathan Edward’s book: A Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of all God’s People in Extraordinary Prayer for the Revival of Religion and the Advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on Earth, Pursuant to Scripture Promises and Prophecies.”
Is this not precisely what has been missing in the church today: Explicit agreement, visible union, and extraordinary prayer. I am watching daily as a groundswell of powerful, unifying, and greatly impactful events are being held – The Return, led by Jonathan Cahn; The Prayer March on Washington, led by Franklin Graham, and the incredible worship events being conducted all over America with Sean Feucht. I was even blessed to see an event today that featured many members of the Amish and Mennonite communities where there is a real and powerful move of God going on even today. Yet, I am plagued by the gnawing feeling that it is not enough. Our prayers, while good and growing better, are yet ordinary prayers. Our meetings are yet too much like. . . . . well meetings. Will the movements fade away in the waning hours of an election? Have we yet come to that place of urgency, that place of desperate dryness that pleads for the Lord to pour water on our dry ground?
The church must rise up in extraordinary prayer – prayers not to save America, but prayers that will advance the Kingdom of God on the earth. We must be like Jacob, getting a hold on God and not letting go until He moves. We cannot begin at the top of the hour and finish and the top of the next and call it extraordinary prayer.
Campaigning is hard work. Prayer is even harder, but infinitely more profitable. Winning an election is very difficult. Bowing one’s heart in humble and contrite repentance is even more difficult, but greatly more rewarding – and precisely what needs to happen if we are to see another Great Awakening.
I don’t know about you, but I want more than an improvement in the economy.
So, please receive this as an a humble attempt to promote explicit agreement and visible union of all God’s people in extraordinary prayer for the revival of [true] religion and the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on earth, pursuant to Scripture promises and prophecies.