The Columns – May 2016

Prayer

The National Day of Prayer is an annual day of observance held on the first Thursday of May. Established as a yearly event in 1952 by a joint resolution of Congress and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman, this day is a vital part of our history. It is a call to the citizens of the United States of America to unify through prayer as we seek God’s continued blessing and favor upon our nation giving thanks for the multitude of blessings which have been poured upon this country. On May 5th, at precisely 12:00 noon, citizens will gather for the reading of the 65th annual National Prayer. The theme for this year is ”Wake Up America” written by Dr. Tony Evans, 2016 Honorary Chairman, emphasizing the need for individuals, corporately and individually, to return to the God of Fathers in reverence for His Holy Name. The scripture chosen to further highlight the theme is Isaiah 58:1: “Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet”.

The selected title and theme of this year’s prayer could not be more appropriate. It issues a present day warning to the American people alerting them to the fact that we have reached a defining moment, one which can profoundly determine our future. History reminds us that even as a very young institution, America was not unfamiliar with such pivotal moments. A similar time of unrest in our country’s history is evidenced by Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation in 1863:

“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 has 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”.

While there are many similarities between 1863 and the present, there is one glaring difference. We have not just forgotten God, we have deliberately removed Him. Not only have we taken prayer out of our schools and banned it from the public square, we have taken Him out of our government and are in the process of attempting to remove everything associated with Him, as many stand by in the name of political correctness. We have become one nation “above” God rather than “under” God. Fifty years ago, the most imminent threat to our country was communism; however, today secularism prevails and dominates in almost every sector of society with the major goal being to strip the country of its biblical values replacing it with Atheistic humanism. While truth and law were founded on the God of all creation, today, man denies this truth through his law and calls it “separation”. In addition, present day society holds an apparent deep-seated antagonism and hostility toward Christianity which is echoed by the media, the courts and the educational system. Almost unbelievably, America is being stripped of its Christian heritage from within, as those who profess their faith are publicly scorned.

America, Wake up! From the battlefields of terrorist attacks to the war on drugs, our collective minds are under spiritual siege. We are witnessing the rapid deterioration of a nation before our very eyes. Lincoln’s words are eerily appropriate for America’s present day emergency status: “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.” Our moral walls are down and we have failed to restrain the enemy of darkness.

In the face of a culture that disparages our God, it is imperative that we be bold and unafraid to speak out for the Lord and for His truth. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, or cowardice or fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:17).” Humbly and desperately, we are called to hit our knees and “to seek His face (2 Chronicles 7:14),” turning toward Him in repentance of anything contrary to His will. “Then” God says, “I will hear from heaven”,

promising to forgive our sin and heal our land. We must turn toward our God and away from that which is contrary to His will while remembering the words of Daniel, “The people who know their God shall stand firm and take action” ( Daniel 11:32). My fellow American’s, wake up! We MUST respond to the alarm. It has been ringing for YEARS and we have pressed snooze one too many times. We have dozed back into slumber while the rulers of darkness continue to utilize accelerated force. We as God’s people must go to our Father remembering His words, “The government will be on His shoulder.” (Isaiah 9:6) while realizing that He has not abdicated His sovereignty in the affairs of men, but remains the Lord of history. Let us not grow weary, but know that we are to heed the scripture, “Call on me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you and you will honor me (Psalm 50:15).”It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency (Lincoln, Abraham). We must not lose hope but remember (Timothy 2: 1-2), “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for all people-for kings and all those in authority.”

On May 5th, at 11”45 a.m. in the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church in Shreveport, all people are invited to gather for the reading of the 65th National Day of Prayer. The recitation will create a huge wave of prayer flowing from coast to coast illustrating the unity of God’s people and acknowledging His dominion over the circumstances facing us. The National Prayer will be led by Bossier Mayor Lo Walker, with a special message from Dr. Pat Day. Additional Prayers will be offered specific to the needs of our nation and community Sheriff Steve Prator, Brig. Gen. Peyton Cole, Jr. (Retired), Sen. Mike Johnson, Ms. Africa Price, Dr. Philip Rozeman, Mr. Ross Barrett, and Mrs. Stacey Hargon. Special music will be provided by Mr. Ray Peebles and Ms. Brenda Wimberly.

Let us gather on May 5th, answering God’s call to be salt and light, united in prayer as we ask God to bring restoration and renewal to His people and to His church in these United States, remembering through our Father’s words that suffering and persecution will not destroy us, it will bless us. ” And the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast (1 Peter 5:10).”

NATIONAL PRAYER by Dr. Tony Evans
Dear heavenly Father, we come to You today as a humble people desperate for Your supernatural intervention on behalf of our beloved nation. First, we thank You for all the blessings You have bestowed on our land, blessings that have allowed us to bring so much good and benefit to not only our own citizens but also to the rest of the world. The very ideals upon which this country was founded were based on biblical truths, no matter how some try to rewrite history to deny that very fact today.
This is why our hearts are so broken over how You continue to be marginalized and dismissed by both our people and our institutions. We are also saddened by the fact that Your people have contributed greatly to the spiritual apathy that now engulfs us. Our satisfaction in remaining religious without being fully committed to living out the truths of Your Word has caused us to become co-conspirators with the forces of evil that are destroying us as a society.
It is for this reason that we personally and collectively repent of our carnality and recommit ourselves to becoming visible and verbal disciples of Jesus Christ. Enable us, by Your Spirit, to no longer be secret agent Christians but rather to publicly declare and live out Your truth in a spirit of love so that You feel welcome in our country once again.
Thank You for Your promise to hear our prayers when we call to You with hearts of repentance and obedience, which is how we are appealing to You today, Father. On behalf of Your church, we affirm afresh the priority You are to us that You would fill every dimension of our lives as we seek to bring You glory through the advancement of Your kingdom in our personal lives, our family lives, and in the lives of our churches and our government leaders. We confidently invite heaven’s intervention into all the affairs of our nation and we praise You in advance for Your answer.
In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen.

PRAYER FOR GENERAL CONFERENCE
A message from Terry Teykl: As we approach the upcoming gathering in Portland, we want members of local United Methodist congregations to actively participate in “Praying the Lord’s Prayer at Noon.” I believe progressives and conservatives and unlabeled disciples can pray this together. And the desired effect would be that God’s will would be done in all matters of General Conference. The cumulative and combined effect of thousands of United Methodists praying every day could turn the tide in our church and welcome His will in our denominational matters. Since the theme for General Conference is Matthew 28:19, our hope is a renewed church with a passion to reach people for Christ. – See more at: http://goodnewsmag.org/2015/11/lords-prayer-at-high-noon

Let’s do it!
Join me along with Terry in praying The Lord’s Prayer, 12:00 noon, daily beginning May 1st!

TOP TEN PRAYER REQUESTS FOR May
1. Pray for God’s will to prevail at the 2016 UMC General Conference, May 10-20 in Portland, Oregon. Pray for Dr. Day to have wisdom and influence in his role as a delegate.
2. Pray for guidance in the nomination of Bishops in the UMC for 2016.
3. Give thanks to God for the blessings he has provided for America and pray for revival in our nation.
4. Pray for healing for nations and individuals who have and are suffering at the hands of terrorists.
5. Pray for young adults in our community to seek a church home and grow in faith.
6. Pray for the cure for cancer.
7. Pray for those who are grieving the loss of loved ones.
8. Pray for our students to finish well in their studies this school year.
9. Pray for new graduates to have God’s peace and protection as they enter a new phase of life.
10. Pray for God to bring reconciliation and grace into strained relationships.