CALL TO MOURNING & PRAYER
EDITOR'S NOTE: This column is part of the call to prayer for revival and spiritual awakening for 2013 issued by Frank Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, to Southern Baptist churches for the nation and the world. Baptist Press is carrying First-Person articles during the year encouraging prayer in specific areas and for specific needs in petitioning the Father for spiritual awakening.
"As He approached and saw the city, He wept over it, saying, 'If you knew this day what would bring peace -- but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days will come on you when your enemies will build an embankment against you, surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you and your children within you to the ground, and they will not leave one stone on another in you, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation'" (Luke 19:41-44).
Throughout history, there have been moments that change us forever. They are markers in time. They can be victorious moments or undoing moments. Many such moments in our nation's history have compelled us to rise to the challenges thrust upon us through calamities, destruction, death and great sorrow -- events like Pearl Harbor, 9/11, and Katrina.
Other moments are more foreboding, when evil is called good and sin is embraced as acceptable, such as the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion on demand. In such moments of history, the church is called to respond.
On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court issued two rulings on same-sex marriage that set into motion ripples of social change that will significantly impact us, our children and grandchildren, and the future of our nation. Unlike the 1973 decision that legalized the death of unborn children on a national scale, this court stopped short of legalizing same-sex marriage across the land. But its rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8 opened the door for the possibility of same-sex marriage becoming the law of the land in the not-too-distant future.
For many followers of Christ, this Sunday, June 30, is their first gathering following the momentous historical announcement by the Supreme Court. The churches I serve have set aside this Sunday as A Day of Mourning and Prayer. I am calling our people to assemble with a solemn awareness of the state of our nation and the impact of these rulings upon us.
In the Old Testament, national and spiritual leaders often confessed the sins of the nation in their cries to the Lord. Sometimes they were in political positions to effect immediate change, such as Nehemiah's prayer in his leadership role in post-exilic Jerusalem. But others cried out to God from an adversarial national setting, such as Elijah under Ahab's wicked rule over the northern kingdom of Israel.
As we pray, let us acknowledge that every act of sin legalized and embraced by our culture is a provocation of the Lord God and His holiness and righteousness as declared in His Holy Word.
Let us acknowledge that, though the Lord God is kind, patient and longsuffering, He has never (and will not) grant His continued blessings on any nation or people that chooses sin over our precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Let us acknowledge that our faith is not in men or their means. It is in Jesus alone, "the Author and Finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2).
Let us, therefore, cry out to God for mercy, for forgiveness, for a pleading before Him that it is not the desire of our hearts to allow or for our nation to go the way of all the earth.
Let us cry out to our Father, the God of heaven and earth. Let us beseech Him earnestly to cleanse us, to revive His church, to impart His Holy Spirit, to quicken us. Let us ask Him to stretch forth His right hand to help us.
Let us pray Habakkuk's prayer, "In wrath remember mercy" (Habakkuk 3:2).
Let us pray Jesus' prayer, "Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34).
The people of our nation do not know they have provoked His wrath upon our children, our land and our future. But we know.
As Christ beheld the city and wept over it, so should we weep and mourn, praying and agonizing for the lostness and wickedness that is prevailing upon our nation that has been so blessed by the Lord for so long. May we, as the Lord's people, give place to prayer, to anguish, to mourning that true repentance, confession and sorrow might be done.
Let it not be said of us, "Help, LORD, for no faithful one remains; the loyal have disappeared from the human race" (Psalm 12:1).
Dan Biser is pastor of Zoar Baptist Church in Augusta, W.Va., and Fox's Hollow Baptist Church in Romney, W.Va. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).