Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Oh Lord, Hear Our Prayer

There are righteous causes worth fighting for. In fact, I intend to march in favor of one of them on Sunday. NYC is attempting to kick its churches out of the NYC schools where they rent space on Sunday AM.  I feel that I have a responsibility to uphold the rights of others, especially as they are being deprived in this hypocritical manner.

While allowing other groups to rent space in the NYC schools, the City Council is discriminating against it churches, pleading the “separation of church and state.” Such a charge beckons us to reexamine the First Amendment to our Constitution:

  • Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
There is nothing here about the “separation of church and state” – just the prohibition against establishing a state religion, and this is clearly not at issue here. Ironically, NYC’s ruling does establish a law “prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Hence, it is the City’s discriminatory law that is unconstitutional – it violates our “free exercise” – rather than the churches meeting in the schools.

This is just one of many examples of what has become known as “the war against Christianity.” And I think that this needs to be addressed. However, this “war” is symptomatic of something far greater – the vulnerability of the church. We have become marginalized and our voice no longer carries the moral authority that it once did.

Even if we did have the political strength, this “war” is nothing that we can simply legislate away. It’s bigger than we are. It overwhelms our puny resources. However, these threats occur to show us that we need our Lord’s deliverance!

We have to confess our utter need - our own sins and even the sins of the church. This has always been a pre-condition for revival and deliverance. The prophet Daniel humbled himself before the Lord in this manner:

  • "Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame--the men of Judah and people of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. O Lord, we and our kings, our princes and our fathers are covered with shame because we have sinned against you. The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you. Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you. You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing upon us great disaster.” (Daniel 9:7-12)
And Daniel’s prayer was answered:

  • While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill--  while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. He instructed me… (Daniel 9:20-22)
Whenever God’s people humbled themselves in confession of sin, they received answers. King Josiah humbled himself:

  • Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before God when you heard what he spoke against this place and its people, and because you humbled yourself before me and tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the Lord. (2 Chron. 34:27)
The evil King Manasseh was restored after he humbly confessed his sins:

  • In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God. (2 Chron. 33:12-13
King Hezekiah repented of his pride and also found deliverance:

  • Then Hezekiah repented of the pride of his heart, as did the people of Jerusalem; therefore the Lord's wrath did not come upon them during the days of Hezekiah. (2 Chron. 32:26)
In fact, we never find anyone in Scripture repenting of their sin and going away empty handed. The trials that have come upon the church are an opportunity to examine ourselves, our church, and to cry out to our Lord, who loves His church beyond words (Eph. 2:16-20).






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