In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation designating April 30 as “a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer.” Why?
According to the president, “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!”
What would President Lincoln say about America today? (Tweet this)
There was a time when religion was central to our society; then it became a marginalized hobby. Now Christianity is widely seen as detrimental and prejudiced, homophobic and irrelevant. You don’t need me to chronicle the moral challenges of our day, or the growing irreligiosity of our culture.
Here’s the good news: God still hears the prayers of the penitent. (Tweet this)
Peter called the crowds who chose Barabbas over Jesus to “repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19). If those who demanded Jesus’ crucifixion could be forgiven, whose sin can God not pardon?
Consider this promise: “If a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?” (Ezekiel 18:21-23).
God would rather we repent and live than continue in sin and face his judgment. What he said to ancient Israel, he says to America today.
Why is repentance essential to God’s forgiveness and favor? Not because we must earn his blessing, but because repentance positions us to receive what grace intends to give. A doctor cannot help a patient who will not admit that he is sick. But our Father will forgive every sin his children confess (1 John 1:9).
Let me urge you to make time today for personal repentance. Ask the Spirit to bring to your mind anything in your life that grieves your Father, and confess all that comes to your thoughts. Then I encourage you to fast from a meal today and use the time to confess the sins of our culture, specifically and honestly. Ask God to forgive our people and bring the moral and spiritual awakening we need so desperately. I will join you in such fasting and prayer.
President Lincoln warned that “we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace.” Do you feel the necessity of God’s grace today?