February 19, 1999

 National prayer meeting needed 
Grief for what the scandal,
acquittal reveal about us!

By JOHN ANDERSON    www.cryministry.com

"Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria, you notable men of the foremost nation... You put off the evil day and bring near a reign of terror... You drink wine by the bowlful, but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph" (Amos 6:1, 3, 6)

We just didn't care! It's this attitude, sadly, that is the major story of the whole scandal saga which has culminated in the acquittal of the president.

Apathy has become our national disease. Apparently tranquilized by our affluence and compromised by our permissivism, we have yawned at the president's confessed lewd, adulterous behavior with a young intern -- conduct we don't permit in a military officer or local school principal. We continually gave him high approval poll numbers while also saying we believed he lied and obstructed justice. Of course the president's troubles are not over, as he may now be cited by a judge for contempt of court.

The Senate's acquittal was a defining time for our nation. Rep. Henry Hyde, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, who headed the 13 member House team that prosecuted the case against the president in the Senate trial, said about the acquittal, "The culture of liberality and tolerance of anything, so long as there is material progress, prevailed."

This all brought back to mind the teasing question an elderly Australian gentlemen asked me several years ago just hours after I had arrived on my first ministry trip in this nation. He said, "Do you know what the number one problem is with we Australians?"

I didn't catch the playful note in his voice, so I answered seriously, "No, what is it?" He answered: "The problem with we Aussies is shown in a bit of graffiti I saw which said, ëThe problem with Aussies is apathy.' And then someone wrote underneath, ëSo what!'"

I smiled, and said, "that is the problem in America too."

In 1784, President George Washington when proclaiming the first national thanksgiving feast said he feared the "arrogance of prosperity" for the young United States. He expressed his prayer that God "imprint on our hearts a deep and solemn sense of our obligations to Him for [these blessings]; to teach us rightly to estimate their immense value..."

Apathy and arrogance are the two sides of the coin of pride. Apathy is the ultimate form of arrogance ñ and the most dangerous as it blinds us to peril!

Of course our politicians now want to "move forward," to "care for the issues that matter to the American people," to "heal," "bring closure," "restore our national self image," etc.

However what is really essential is that we move toward "repentance," "face our sin," "humble ourselves," and "return to the Lord." This call must be heard from the pulpit.

Our own American history instructs us what we must do. In earlier times, at times of crisis or decisive moments, there were calls to seek the Lord ñ in SOLEMN ASSEMBLIES. One compelling example is when Abraham Lincoln and the Senate called for "A Day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer" during the Civil War. It was held on April 30, 1863 (one of three called during that war). The masterful proclamation Lincoln and the Senate issued then could have been written for right now. In part it said:

"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."

Scripture shows us what should happen on such a day. In Ezra 9 and 10, Ezra and many of the people were deeply grieved over their sin: "Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel gathered around me because of this unfaithfulness of the exiles. And I sat there appalled until the evening sacrifice... and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the Lord my God and prayed..." (Ezra 9:4-5)

Ezra prayed repentance: "O my God, I am too ashamed and disgraced to lift up my face to you, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens..." (Ezra 9:6) Read the rest of Chapter 9.

Later the account says that, "While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large crowd ñ men, women and children ñ gathered around. They, too, wept bitterly." (Ezra 10:1)

When was the last time we as ministers, or anyone of us, trembled at the words of God? Or were appalled because of sin? Or fell on our knees with hands lifted? Or wept? Most of us have worried about, say, a shortage of money. But when was the last time we were concerned about the evil in us and in the world, and had such a desire for holiness and for knowing the Lord that we cried to the Lord? Now is the time to do so.

A national prayer meeting is a priority.

Congressman Hyde told senators toward the end of the trial, "I wonder if, after this culture war is over that we are engaged in, an America will survive that will be worth fighting to defend."

With the acquittal of the president, the role of our politicians may have ended; but with what we have learned about ourselves, the Church's and the pulpit's part has just begun.

Let's show we do care! At this watershed moment let us lead our churches, communities, states, and nation in repentance and earnestly seeking the Lord.

And may this become a catalyst for revival and spiritual awakening in our beloved land!

Let us pray together: Our beloved Father in heaven, we praise you because you are a holy and loving Lord. It is because of your blessing that we have this nation. But we have sinned. You have exposed our sins throughout this time of scandal. The story is not just about the president; it is about us. In our affluence we have become complacent and indifferent to evil. Forgive us as a nation. And forgive us in your Church for our indifference, and for our frolicking with the world. Oh Lord, we repent. We cry to you to forgive us. And visit us with blessed revival. In Jesus Name, Amen.

John Anderson has been in ministry over 34 years, including 24 years serving three churches. Since 1988 he and his wife, Esther, have been in traveling ministry across the world. Recently they have based their CRY OF THE INNOCENTS MINISTRY near Washington, D.C. John is editor of Pastor's Alert, a publication of The Alliance for Revival and Reformation. He is author of two books, CRY OF THE INNOCENTS and THE CRY OF COMPASSION. He is available for ministry and may be contacted at:
PO Box 759, Waldorf, MD 20604 - (301) 645-0280
Email: CryMinJohn@aol.com.