Posted by: stpowen | August 22, 2009

Repentance and Prayer

During the summer, British newspapers and current affairs programmes have been full of the desperate state of our economy, with the National Debt running out of control and unemployment rising inexorably.  We have also been regaled with the details of the expenses claimed by our Members of Parliament.

In truth, we are in a dreadful mess, and the cupidity and incompetence of our politicians is merely the proverbial tip of the iceberg.  Moreover, our economic woes are as nothing compared with the moral state of the Nation.  As many children are now born outside of wedlock as within it; an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases is upon us; two hundred thousand unborn children are slain each year by abortion; an underclass of delinquent children, the inevitable consequence of broken homes, has led to an increase in gang culture and violence despite our prisons being full to bursting point.  I could go on, but my readers will be as familiar with these things as I am.

Who is to blame for this desperate state of affairs?  I believe that it will not do to blame bankers, politicians, the BBC,  homosexuals, atheists or sociologists.  To blame sinners for sin is like blaming Popeye for eating spinach; it’s just what they do.  No, the blame for our nation’s malaise must be placed firmly where it belongs- on the Church.  Judgment must begin at the house of God.

The Church, by which I mean our Protestant ‘Bible-believing’ churches, has, for the most part not preached the prophetic word of God.  “But if they had stood in My counsel, and had caused My people to hear My words, then they would have turned them from their evil way…..” (Jer 23:22).  There is a coldness and a laxness amongst even the best of us and a reluctance to preach against sin for fear of upsetting the congregation.  Yet Paul’s charge to Timothy (2Tim 4:1-5) was ‘Preach the word!’  When was he to do that?  ‘In season and out of season.’  That is, regularly, constantly; whether people wanted to hear it or not.  How was he to preach?  ‘Convince, rebuke, exhort!’  In other words, with great earnestness, frankness and boldness.  The trouble is that people don’t want to hear that sort of preaching today.  Their preferences would be those of the Israelites who said, “Do not prophesy to us right things; speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits.  Get out of the way, turn aside from the path; cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us” (Isaiah 30:10-11).

In Old Testament times, when the nation was in peril, it was the custom to call a ‘solemn assembly’ of God’s people (eg. 1Sam 7:3-6; 2Chron 15:9-15, 20:3-13, 34:29ff; Ezra 8:21-23; Neh 9:1-38; Joel 2:12-17) to fast and repent before the Lord.  The Puritans in New England followed this example, and in Britain, at the time of the Indian Mutiny in 1857, and again at the time of the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940, the Monarch called the nation to prayer.

Is it not time for such a call today?  Are not the times as perilous (though in a different way) as in 1940?  Should we not be coming together before Almighty God, repenting of our complacency and beseeching Him to return to us (James 4:8-10).  The question is, who would call such an assembly?  The Archdruid of Canturbury?  Churches Together?  God forbid!  Theirs is the very sort of fake Christianity that has got us into the state we’re in.  Who then?   It seems to me that it is for the true Christians in each village, town or city to come together to seek God’s face.  How this could be organized I do not know. Perhaps the ‘Gospel Partnerships’ in each area could call them.  I only know that it desperately needs to be done.

 

‘When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people,  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 Chron 7:13-14).  Here is a promise for us to claim from God.  Perhaps I will write more fully on it later.  But now let us just observe that the humbling of ourselves must come before the prayers and the promise depends upon our turning from our wicked ways.

 

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