TEXAS TALIBAN AND THE DEN OF LIONS?
History occasionally repeats itself. 2,500 years ago, Daniel was thrown into a den of lions for praying to God. Like the enemies of Daniel, the secular media attempted to follow suit and come against Texas Gov. Rick Perry by comparing his recent call to prayer in Houston, Texas, as the Taliban-style theocracy. Gov. Perry’s call was for a solemn gathering of Americans to pray and fast for our country and to seek God’s guidance and wisdom in addressing the challenges that face our nation. Although there were three governors who spoke to the crowd, they only prayed and read Scripture. There were no political speeches, there were no booths to pass out literature, nor was there an offering taken. Gov. Perry initiated the event, but he did not do the planning of it.
Nevertheless, as it was in Daniel’s day, Gov. Perry had his adversaries. A secular journalist stated,
“Prayer is, quite literally, the least one can do to help deal with a situation … Gov. Perry … has absolutely no idea how to resolve any issues. Therefore, we should all throw up our hands and beg an imaginary, supernatural being to momentarily suspend the physical laws of the universe to solve our problems … Might as well sacrifice a goat.”
The Bible identifies such an individual as a fool (Psalm 53:1). The level of stupidity in the world today, with so much knowledge and technology at our fingertips, is amazing. The problem is we may have a great deal of knowledge, but very little wisdom. In the year 2000, over 75 million Americans attended school from preschool through college, costing over $900 billion dollars. And with all that education, and money spent on education, we still have areas where we just aren’t getting it. For example: In 2009, 1.4 million Americans filed for bankruptcy. Over 50 percent of all first marriages end in divorce, 67 percent of all second marriages, and 74 percent of all third marriages will fail. Crime is up, unemployment is up, and the economy is down. Today, stress management has become a multibillion dollar business.
With these types of failures, it’s obvious that education alone isn’t the answer. Part of the problem is there are people in positions of power who are trying to get rid of God. People without revelation of God and His Word will perish because they are without wisdom. Education without God only creates intellectual barbarians.
Nevertheless, between 30 and 40 thousand people of all denominations, who believe in God and the power of prayer, came to Reliant Stadium in Houston. For eight hours there was prayer, repentance, and remorse for the sins of our nation and for each one’s own sins. No doubt, hundreds of thousands watched on live web stream from their homes. Christians do not require unanimity on every point of the Bible for them to agree that coming together to pray for repentance and blessing upon a nation in crisis is both proper and prudent. Those participating in the event had serious and justifiable concerns about the state of the culture and America’s future.
Yet, after the event was over, the media showed their bias once again, as they focused on a few dozen protesters outside the stadium, rather than on the crowd inside.
WHY THE RESPONSE? HISTORIC CRISIS
America is in the midst of an historic crisis. We have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters. The youth of America are in grave peril economically, socially, and, most of all, morally. There are threats emerging within our nation and outside our borders, beyond our power to solve. Prayer is the key for unlocking the power of God to help America in this crisis.
Daniel chapter 10:12, 13, makes it clear that there is conflict in the spiritual realm when God’s people desire to pray (also Ephesians 6:10-18). Prayer is one of our mightiest weapons on Earth—the supernatural equivalent of air support in a military campaign—and the enemy will try to neutralize this advantage and keep believers from praying. C. S. Lewis wrote,
“There are two equal and opposite errors people fall into regarding the devil and demons. One is to have had an unhealthy and excessive interest in them; the other is to disbelieve in their existence altogether. The devil is equally pleased with either one.”
PROTESTING PRAYER? A LESSON ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
As David Barton points out,
“Prayer is one of the greatest of American traditions. It dates back to the founding of this country. In addition to an American spirit of freedom, boldness, and independence, prayer reflects an important counterbalancing American spirit: humility. A country that is prideful is a country on its way out as a leading power. Remembering that our country and our freedoms are a gift from God is a welcome attitude for a healthy America. Even our Declaration of Independence begins with this acknowledgment.”
So why were some people attacking the prayer event in Houston? Obviously, such protestors are spiritually blind.
GOVERNOR RICK PERRY’S PRAYER DURING THE RESPONSE
“Lord, You are the source of every good thing, You are our only hope. And we stand before You today in awe of Your power and in gratitude for Your blessings; in humility for our sins. Father, our hearts break for America. We see discord at home. We see fear in the marketplace. We see anger in the halls of government. And, as a nation, we have forgotten Who made us, Who protects us, Who blesses us, and for that we cry out for Your forgiveness. We pray for our nation’s leaders, Lord—for parents, for pastors, for the generals, for governors—that You would inspire them in these difficult times. Father, we pray for our President, that You would impart Your wisdom upon him, that You would guard his family. We pray for our military and the families who love them; Father, especially for those special operators who lost their lives yesterday in defending our freedoms. You call us to repent, Lord, and this day is our response. We give it all to You. For Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen and amen.”
God’s Presence was in Reliant Stadium, and we know that He heard the cries of His people. We believe we will see the fruit in our nation because young and old, many races, and many denominations gathered in unity to worship the Name of Jesus.
In Joel, chapter two, an ancient Hebrew prophet speaks to a nation in crisis and gave them God’s solution: to gather together, repent of their sins, and pray to God to intervene on their behalf. In that day, the command was for everyone to stop what they were doing and gather for a sacred assembly to turn to God with all their hearts, “… with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning …” (Joel 2:12).
Why did God desire fasting, weeping, and mourning—or, to put it differently, contrition and humility—from the people? A “sacred assembly” (Joel 2:15) was a gathering that served a few purposes. First, in gathering, the people were acknowledging that their nation had drifted away from its foundations of faith and morality. Because of this moral decline, the people were not prepared to face the external threats rising up against them—economic, political, and military in nature. God wanted His people to understand that their internal threats (moral decline) were far greater than their external threats (the economic crisis and military invasion).
In gathering together, God wanted the people instructed, so they would know why their nation was in peril. God wanted the people—from the children and nursing babes to the leaders and priests (Joel 2:16)—to all completely understand both the nature of the crisis at hand and the only solution that would deliver them from their great crisis—God Himself. God ordained in that hour of history that prayer would serve as the only way of escape from the mounting trouble. Why prayer? Only God has the power to solve both the internal moral decline and the external economic and military threats. All three were unsolvable by human means and human solutions, but God had a solution that could be found in His great mercy.
Therefore, in gathering together, the people could cry out together with their leaders in humility and repentance led by their priests (Joel 2:17). There is power from Heaven available to those who gather together and pray. We see a Joel 2 gathering at the beginning of the Book of Acts with a Joel 2 answer in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2). The greatest missions’ movements in history, beginning with the Apostle Paul, were launched out of prayer gatherings like the one in Acts 13. The great Catholic, Protestant, and student volunteer missions movements were all launched out of prayer gatherings. The greatest revivals in history, such as the First and Second Great Awakenings, were also birthed out of sustained, persistent gatherings of prayer. Dramatic things have happened throughout many generations when the people of God come together and seek His face. Who knows what can happen in our generation when we gather together to worship Jesus, fast and pray, and believe and trust God for great change in our nation? Could it be that the Lord would hold fast to His Word and “Heal our Land”?
HISTORIC PRECEDENCE FOR NATIONAL PRAYER
On March 16, 1776, the Continental Congress passed without dissent a resolution presented by General William Livingston, declaring:
“Congress … desirous … to have people of all ranks and degrees duly impressed with a solemn sense of God’s superintending providence, and of their duty, devoutly to rely… on his aid and direction … do earnestly recommend Friday, the 17th day of May, be observed by the colonies as a Day of Humiliation, Fasting, and Prayer; that we may, with united hearts, confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and, by sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease God’s righteous displeasure, and, through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain this pardon and forgiveness.”
Several years later, on June 14, 1783, George Washington wrote a prayer to governors of the newly freed states along the same lines. His declaration is displayed in St. Paul’s Chapel, NY, and Pohick Church, VA, where Washington was a church member from 1762-84:
“Almighty God; We make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy Holy protection; and Thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government; and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow citizens of the United States—at—large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field. And finally, that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
On April 15, 1775, just four days before the Battle of Lexington, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, led by John Hancock, declared:
“In circumstances dark as these, it becomes us, as men and Christians, to reflect that, whilst every prudent measure should be taken to ward off the impending judgments … the 11th of May next, be set apart as a day of public humiliation, fasting and prayer … to confess the sins … to implore the forgiveness of all our transgression.”
On April 19, 1775, in a proclamation of a day of fasting and prayer, Connecticut Governor Jonathan Trumbull beseeched that:
“God would graciously pour out His Holy Spirit on us to bring us to a thorough repentance and effectual reformation that our iniquities may not be our ruin; that He would restore, preserve and secure the liberties of this and all the other British American colonies, and make the land a mountain of holiness and habitation of righteousness forever.”
On June 12, 1775, less than two months after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, and where “the shot heard ‘round the world,’” was fired, the Continental Congress, under President John Hancock, declared:
“Congress … considering the present critical, alarming, and calamitous state … do earnestly recommend, that Thursday, the 12th of July next, be observed by the inhabitants of all the English Colonies on this continent, as a day of public humiliation, fasting and prayer, that we may with united hearts and voices,
unfeignedly confess and deplore our many sins and offer up our joint supplications to the All wise, Omnipotent and merciful Disposer of all events, humbly beseeching Him to forgive our iniquities … It is recommended to Christians of all denominations to assemble for public worship and to abstain from servile labor and recreations of same day.”
Obviously, America’s roots are grounded in days of prayer, fasting and humiliation.
MIXING RELIGION AND POLITICS
Some argue that the governor was mixing religion and politics. However, the above quotes clearly revealed that America’s early fathers were involved, not only in the politics of the nation, but calling people to pray. Again, the secular media implied that the motive behind Gov. Perry’s gathering was to promote his Presidential campaign. If Gov. Perry was using this occasion for enhancing his bid for his nomination for the Presidency, the event truly settled the issue once and for all, because such an act would result in sabotaging his candidacy. However, as it was with Daniel, who refused to obey the king’s command to not pray to his God, there is a price to pay for publicly acknowledging and seeking God. He made a bold declaration by praying openly before his enemies. We should model his resolute stance in our public confession. There is a severe price to pay—especially as a nationally recognized politician—for standing up and calling the nation to prayer and for aligning oneself with such a call. But Christians need to understand that the attack is not just against Gov. Perry and those who worked with The Response; the attack is against God.
Although he was severely criticized by his opposition, God had a reward for Daniel, which included salvation and a surprise for his enemies—lunchmeat for the lions. Meanwhile, afterward, the Bible says Daniel prospered during the reigns of Darius and Cyrus. Could God also have a surprise for Gov. Perry?
ONE THING IS CERTAIN
Texas has been in extreme drought. We have broken the temperature record with more than 40+ days of triple digit heat, and wildfires still burn in many areas of the state. When the rains return and the drought is broken, a rainbow will appear in the heavens. Meanwhile, for those who are spiritually discerning, the Lord has placed a rainbow over the gathering of believers who humbled themselves before the Lord and confessed their reliance upon God alone in Reliant Stadium. Even though the hope for America lies in Heaven, we will find it on our knees here on Earth.