Abortion activists interrupted Lakewood Church’s worship service last Sunday in Houston, Texas. Three women stripped down to their underwear in the church and began shouting “my body, my choice!” They were escorted out of the church and Pastor Joel Osteen continued preaching, which drew cheers and applause from churchgoers.
Since news broke that the Supreme Court might overturn Roe v. Wade, Catholic churches have been vandalized and Masses disturbed. When some Tampa Bay Rays baseball players made what they called a “faith-based” decision not to wear rainbow-colored logos on their uniforms during a “Pride Night” home game, critics called them homophobic and tweeted, “Maybe you should read the Bible once or twice.”
The Carolina Panthers will have an openly transgender cheerleader next year. A bar in Dallas, Texas, hosted a “Drag the kids to pride” drag show last Saturday, during which children walked with the dancers down the aisle and gave dollar bills to the performers. Pizza Hut is promoting a book that “celebrates drag kids” aimed at children in pre-kindergarten up to third grade.
Yesterday we focused on the pathway by which God will “heal our land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). What hope is there for such healing today?
“Hope is a moral duty”
The philosopher Lea Ypi claims, “Hope is a moral duty.” She explains: “We have to act as though there is the chance of things going in a way that is favorable to what we want to achieve.” Otherwise, “If we were nihilistic, we couldn’t uphold that sense of duty.”
So, for her (and for many secular people like her), our reason for continuing to hope is that the opposite is worse. So long as we hope things can get better, we will keep trying to make them better. If we give up hope that the world can improve, naturally we will give up trying to improve it. Humans don’t try to fly like Superman because we know we have no hope of doing so.
Her observation applies to Christians as well. If we conclude that our culture is too far gone to turn back, that moral and spiritual awakening are impossible and divine judgment is inevitable, we will stop doing the things that promote the renewal we need so desperately.
If, however, we believe that “with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26, my emphasis), we will never give up on what God can do in our world. We will say with the psalmist, “Great is our Lord, and abundant in power” (Psalm 147:5). We will claim the fact that “he does not faint or grow weary” (Isaiah 40:28) and will say to him with Job, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2).
“Choose this day whom you will serve”
This is why God calls his people to “humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways” in the promise that he will “hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14, my emphasis). Pray translates the Hebrew word pallu, meaning to “intervene, make intercession for.” The syntax is ongoing: “Continue to intercede.”
Because God is omnipotent, he can respond to our prayers in omnipotent ways: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Luke 11:9). Praying for the moral and spiritual awakening we need must therefore be a daily exercise of hope for God’s people: “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2).
Of course, we understand that God honors the freedom he gives us. Jesus said, “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). We must “choose this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15). Jesus wept over Jerusalem because it would not receive him as its Messiah and would therefore face the wrath and judgment of God (Luke 19:41–44).
When we pray for America to turn to God, we are not asking God to counteract the free will he has given Americans. How, then, should we pray for awakening?
One: Pray for renewal to begin with us
Note that 2 Chronicles 7:14 begins, “If my people, who are called by my name . . .” We cannot give others what we do not have or lead them where we will not go.
John Baillie was right to pray: “Do not let me embark on anything today that is not in line with your will for my life, nor shrink from any sacrifice that your will demands. Suggest, direct, and guide every movement of my mind for my Lord Jesus Christ’s sake.” Pray daily for moral and spiritual renewal in your own life, asking God to make you the change we need to see.
Two: Pray for the Spirit to open the spiritual eyes of unbelievers
Paul explained the spiritual root of our moral crisis: “The god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Pray for the Spirit to convict sinners of their sins, to show our culture the lies and deceptions of our day, and to bring the lost to repentance.
Three: Pray for the courage to speak the truth in love
After Jesus called his disciples to “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:38), he then “called to him his twelve disciples” and sent them into the mission field (Matthew 10:1–5). When we intercede for others, we must be willing to be the answer to our prayers.
Our culture desperately needs biblical and moral truth, but it needs to hear such truth spoken in love (Ephesians 4:15). We are not culture warriors but cultural missionaries, forgiven people paying forward the grace that has changed our lives.
Will you pray for moral and spiritual renewal in your life?
Will you pray by name for someone who needs the truth of Christ?
Will you pray for the courage to share that truth with them in love today?