IF MY PEOPLE by Pastor Shah (Clearview Church, Henderson)
(This article was published in the local newspaper The Daily Dispatch on 4/24/19)
“if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Americans are a people of prayer. We have always known that behind our birth and our success as a nation is the hand of the Almighty God. Praying to God in trouble and thanking him for his many blessings in our lives is a fundamental part of our culture and identity as Americans. In many ways, prayer even stands above our more popular values of individual freedom, equality, self-reliance, etc. If you think about it, it’s a corollary of our national motto – “In God We Trust.” Each time we see those words on our coins and bills, we’re thanking God for his daily provisions in our lives. So also, when we declare our pledge to the flag and affirm the words “One nation under God,” we are acknowledging our trust in God’s protection on our nation.
A major testimony that prayer is a preeminent American value is our annual National Day of Prayer. This special day was established by an act of Congress in 1952 and signed as a joint resolution into law by President Truman. Later, in 1988, President Reagan signed the bill into law that the first Thursday of each May would be observed as the National Day of Prayer. This was by no means the origin of the nationwide prayer in our nation. On March 16, 1776, the Continental Congress unanimously issued the following proclamation for a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer:
“In times of impending calamity and distress; when the liberties of America are imminently endangered by the secret machinations and open assaults of an insidious and vindictive administration, it becomes the indispensable duty of these hitherto free and happy colonies, with true penitence of heart, and the most reverent devotion, publicly to acknowledge the over ruling providence of God; to confess and deplore our offences against him; and to supplicate his interposition for averting the threatened danger, and prospering our strenuous efforts in the cause of freedom, virtue, and posterity…that we may, with united hearts, confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and, by a sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease his righteous displeasure, and, through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness…”
In his gripping book “1776,” author David McCullough chronicles the struggles faced by General George Washington who had never before led an army in battle. Moreover, the Continental army was a ragtag band of men with little training and lack of discipline. On the other side stood the well-trained and highly disciplined redcoats with contempt for the rebels. Washington wrote to Joseph Reed, his military secretary, “If I shall be able to rise superior to these, and many other difficulties which might be enumerated, I shall most religiously believe that the finger of [God’s] Providence is in it…” The hour was indeed dark but by prayer and perseverance Washington launched the “brilliant stroke” that changed history. This is just one of many examples of the place of prayer in our nation’s history.
The promise made by God to Solomon in 2 Chronicles 7:14 is also ours to claim as a nation. If we as Americans desire forgiveness and healing in our land, then we need to call upon God. It’s our true source of blessing and protection as a people.