Prayer Targets: Fast for Revival; State of the Church; Rush Limbaugh; SOTU; Partisan Profs; More
February 05, 2020
So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. (Daniel 9:3)
Dear Praying Friends,
Dave Clayton is a church planter and pastor of Ethos Church, a multi-campus church in Nashville Tennessee. He played a key role in birthing Awaken Nashville, now in its second year. From Charleston, South Carolina, David moved to Nashville to attend undergrad and grad school at Lipscomb University, a private Christian college. He met his wife, Sydney, during freshmen orientation. Married in 2005, they have three sons. These excerpts are from his Revival Starts Here: A Short Conversation on Prayer, Fasting, and Revival for Beginners Like Me:
OUR CURRENT REALITY - In 2016, Sydney and I began to feel some deep spiritual angst. We are optimistic people but just could not shake the angst we were feeling. [We] began to feel unsettled by what we were seeing on the landscape of both the American culture and the American church.
AMERICAN CULTURE ... We could see that our culture was becoming increasingly divided and broken... drowning in the mire of racial tension, physical violence, political division, selfish ambition, sexual confusion, and spiritual disorientation... Americans had more money, more mobility, and more liberties than ever -- yet the fruit of "our excess" was proving to be rotten at best. [Amid] our so-called progress, our culture appeared to be "losing" in virtually every important sphere of human flourishing. But it wasn't just our culture that was suffering.
AMERICAN CHURCH ... In his first letter to the Corinthian church, the apostle Paul told the church not to be so concerned when the world acts like the world... but that we should be quite concerned when the church begins to act like the world.
I believe the church in America has lost much of her "saltiness" (Matthew 5:13), with devastating results. We have traded holiness for the pursuit of relevance only to discover that our new version of "church" is still unappealing to the culture but more significantly unpleasing to God. Many self-professed Christians are living lives that look no different from those of their non-Christian friends, neighbors, and coworkers.
Millions of such Christians rarely pray, read their Bibles, give of their resources, serve the poor turn prayer into a cosmic lasso in hopes we can wrangle the blessings of Heaven to secure pleasures on earth. We act like pouting children when God doesn't give us our fleshly desires... In Matthew 7, Jesus warns that we will know a tree by its fruit. Over the years, the fruit on the tree of American Christianity has often been less than desirable. But our angst was not only a response to the present; our longing was connected to a growing hope for the future.
OUR FUTURE HOPE... Current reality drove us to our knees in prayer and fasting, but the hope of God's future promises kept us there. The times may be uncertain, but God reminds us that our future is bright. As followers of Jesus, we don't live under the cloud of uncertainty that plagues so many in our culture. The Bible is clear that human history is working toward a beautiful and triumphant climax at the return of Jesus... Men and women from every nation will gather to feast with God face-to-face in the new Heaven and Earth. The grace and power of King Jesus will eradicate all pain, suffering, sickness, and sin. I believe it is time for the people of God to begin living with a clear vision of the way our glorious story will end.
Ezekiel 47:1-12 rarely gets much attention. In a vision, the prophet Ezekiel sees a trickle of water spilling out from under the threshold of the temple. As he follows the water running off the temple steps, it gets deeper and deeper -- at first ankle deep, then knee deep, then waist deep, and then too deep to cross, then the trickle from the temple becomes a raging river that brings life and redemption to everything it touches. While the fruit of American Christianity is not all we would hope for today, I believe there is real promise on the horizon. I sense the water bubbling up under the doorway of the temple in places across the American Church landscape, but I want to see where the trickle of God's Spirit will lead us. I am meeting men and women who are desperately crying out for a fresh revival in our churches, in our culture, and far beyond. In the introduction to his 1948 book, The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer introductory words feel as relevant today as then. "In this hour of all-but-universal darkness, one cheering gleam appears: within the fold of conservative Christianity there are to be found increasing numbers of persons whose religious lives are marked by a growing hunger after God Himself. They [seek] spiritual reality and will not be put off with words, nor be content with correct 'interpretations' of truth. They thirst for God and will not be satisfied till they have drunk deep at the Fountain of Living Water. This is the only real harbinger of revival... on the religious horizon..."
GETTING TO WHERE WE'RE MEANT TO BE... How do we move from current reality into God's future promises? David asks, "When the foundations are being destroyed, what are the righteous to do? (Ps 11:3)" As I hear those words and see the state of the church and culture, that question resonates deep within my heart. "In times like this, what are the people of God to do?"
FASTING FOR REVIVAL... The longer I live in the tension of our moment in history and God's future promises, the more confident I become about the action God is inviting us to take. I've come to believe that prayer and fasting are not only a way but the way for the American church to faithfully step into the future with God (Read 2 Chronicles 7:14). I'm convinced that the future revival for which we were created is something we cannot acquire through strategic planning, relevant programs, or clever preaching alone. No, the revival we long for can only be acquired through sacrificial praying. Not just casual, half-hearted "pray when it's convenient" praying to which so many of us have grown accustomed. This kind of future is only realized when God's people become so collectively homesick for the kingdom of Heaven that we exchange our time, our comforts, our lives, and even our eating habits for more time in the presence of God. That is why fasting is so important. Fasting begins when God's people acknowledge our current state of spiritual famine... admitting that there must be "more of God for people like us." The willingness to fast only emerges as we begin to honestly declare that our lives with God are not as they ought to be -- and we refuse to settle for the status quo. (Dave Clayton, Revival Starts Here: A Short Conversation on Prayer, Fasting, and Revival for Beginners Like Me -- HIM Publications)
The State of the Church -- The Barna Group has announced its first "State of the Church" research initiative since 2010. The upcoming State of the Church 2020 survey will be the most in-depth and comprehensive study in Barna's 35-year history.David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, says, "This is a new decade and a time of significant cultural, digital and spiritual disruption... We're committed to help serve the Church by preparing pastors and leaders to lead faithfully through it all."
- Pray that pastors and churches will get a strong reality check and that more and more pastors will engage their people to become "evangelists" and "culture changers" rather than conforming to the culture. May Christian men become the spiritual leaders in our society that God has called them to be. (Dt 28:13; 1 Kg 2:1-4; Mt 5:13-15)
Pray for Rush Limbaugh -- Rush announced on his nationwide radio program Monday that he has been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, but intends to continue his broadcasting with all the vigor and excellence he could, even if he will have to miss days from time to time as he fights this disease. Last night amid President Trump's delivery of the 2020 State of the Union speech, the president paused to honor Limbaugh by presenting him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2016, George Barna produced a study from an election day poll of "SAGE cons" (spiritually active, governance engaged conservatives who are registered voters) to determine what influencers most influenced their thinking and behavior pertaining to the election. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Tony Perkins were those most likely to influence those who considered themselves very conservative. Rush was number one in influence among those who fell into the category of "SAGE cons."
- May God preserve and heal Rush Limbaugh. Thank God that Rush professes a strong relationship with God. Please fill him with your Holy Spirit and meet all his spiritual and physical needs. Preserve, too, other good men who are influencers for good in this country. As Pastor Dave Clayton has said, we are "increasingly divided and broken... drowning in the mire of racial tension, physical violence, political division, selfish ambition, sexual confusion, and spiritual disorientation." May God preserve those who have taken a stand for righteousness and are able to lead. (Lk 6:19; Jn 16:7; Acts 2:40; 1 Tim 1:8-19)
Also, please keep these items on your prayer list: (1) We pray for God's impartation of wisdom and hopefor all Americans as we reflect upon the State of the Union speech, the Impeachment vote (tonight), and the upcoming Primary and General Elections. In opening the State of the Union, the president reported, "The state of our Union is stronger than ever before!" He covered much that Americans want to know, including issues of special interest to Christians: religious liberty, late term abortion, and socialism. As he closed, the president said, "Our spirit is still young; the sun is still rising; God's grace is still shining; and my fellow Americans, the best is yet to come." (View video and search transcript.) May God give Americans guidance as they analyze the candidates and prepare for the elections ahead; (2) Partisan College Professors -- A study of 12,300 college professors shows that those who teach our young adult students overwhelmingly favor Democrats by a 95:1 ratio. The worst offenders were professors of English (244:1), Anthropology (214:1), and Psychology (184:1). Female professors were much more likely to contribute to Democrats than males (216:1 compared to 67:1) Researchers fear the ideological homogeneity may lead to questionable research practices; (3) The coronavirus contributed to a selloff in the U.S. stock market on Friday (now largely recovered) though reports persist that the numbers of sick and dead in China have been under-reported. Christian leaders urge believers not to panic (Graham, AFA). HHS Secretary Alex Azar has assured Americans that the U.S. is working around that clock to protect and reduce the impact of the virus upon American citizens at home and abroad (see HHS Sec. Azar, NIH overview, Current U.S. cases). Christians should intercede for those in regions where the virus has spread, especially for children and the elderly, and for those who have lost or will lose family members. May God extend mercy and, as often as we hear mention of the virus, may He intervene to end this plague quickly with minimum loss of life. May multiplied thousands, even millions of lost men and women, boys and girls call upon the Name of the Lord and so be saved! (4) Read and hear Tony's Perkins' response to the president's Israeli Peace Plan, and PRAY! (5) The annual National Prayer Breakfast hosted by The Fellowship Foundation will take place tomorrow, Feb. 6, in Washington, D.C. Some 3,500 leaders will gather for prayer and fellowship at the low-key evangelical event intended for local Washington leaders and their guests from around the world. The current U.S. president always speaks as well as a carefully chosen second main speaker. There is sacred music, and many testify to their faith in Jesus Christ. History is made at these breakfasts. Many believe this one is extremely important!
As always, thank you for praying. Nashville, according to reports from friends who live there, is experiencing revival. May it spread across America and beyond!