Question. Have you wept yet over the state of our Nation? Is your heart broken? If so, what have you been praying for? Have you been praying that your political party wins the next election? Because everyone can always do a better job when they’re not in charge. Have you been praying about the condition of the human heart that has mostly been driving the decisions that are being made? Have you been concerned about your own comfort and how this isolation has affected your bottom line? What have you been praying for? What is it that you want? All valid questions. Your responses may well determine the answer you’ll receive.
Jehovah God said these words in Ezekiel 22:30-“I looked for someone to stand up for Me against all this, to repair the defenses of the city, to take a stand for Me and stand in the gap to protect this land so I wouldn’t have to destroy it. I couldn’t find anyone. Not one.” MSG
During the past almost three months, we’ve heard a lot about prayer. We’ve witnessed a lot of performances wrapped up as prayer. This ministry out performing that ministry in the performance line up. With little to show for it. We serve a God who is delighted to answer the prayers of the righteous. So what’s going on with the Church in this season? Why aren’t we experiencing what we read about in scriptures? Why is God silent?
“The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t—not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again.”
James 5:17-18 MSG
Maybe what we’re calling prayer isn’t prayer at all! We read yesterday that God will not be mocked. Our performance to a watching world is nothing but a stench in the nostrils of God. I’ve been reading a lot about what has been happening in some churches, as a child of God it rings hollow to me. Words, empty words, noise, a gong. We’re missing what the old prophets and believers knew for centuries. God Is not, and will not, be moved by performance based prayers and religion. What moves God is a broken and a contrite heart. (Psalm 51:17) A heart truly moved to confess our sin and the sin of our nation, and to intercede from that heart to The God who hears. Then and only then, will we experience a move of God on our behalf. I shared yesterday about the sin of commission and omission. The Church is guilty of these sins.
Why should God hear us? Our arrogance is evident by our performance. Let’s look at one man’s repentance and intercession and the results.
“The memoirs of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah. It was the month of Kislev in the twentieth year. At the time I was in the palace complex at Susa. Hanani, one of my brothers, had just arrived from Judah with some fellow Jews. I asked them about the conditions among the Jews there who had survived the exile, and about Jerusalem. “They told me, “The exile survivors who are left there in the province are in bad shape. Conditions are appalling. The wall of Jerusalem is still rubble; the city gates are still cinders.” When I heard this, I sat down and wept. I mourned for days, fasting and praying before the God-of-Heaven.”
I said, “ GOD, God-of-Heaven, the great and awesome God, loyal to His covenant and faithful to those who love Him and obey His commands: Look at me, listen to me. Pay attention to this prayer of Your servant that I’m praying day and night in intercession for Your servants, the People of Israel, confessing the sins of the People of Israel. And I’m including myself, I and my ancestors, among those who have sinned against You.
“We’ve treated You like dirt: We haven’t done what You told us, haven’t followed Your commands, and haven’t respected the decisions You gave to Moses Your servant. All the same, remember the warning You posted to Your servant Moses: ‘If you betray Me, I’ll scatter you to the four winds, but if you come back to Me and do what I tell you, I’ll gather up all these scattered peoples from wherever they ended up and put them back in the place I chose to mark with My Name.’
“Well, there they are—Your servants, Your people whom you so powerfully and impressively redeemed. O Master, listen to me, listen to Your servant’s prayer—and yes, to all Your servants who delight in honoring You—and make me successful today so that I get what I want from the king.” I was cupbearer to the king.
Nehemiah 1:1-11 MSG
Let’s continue reading in chapter two:
“It was the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king. At the hour for serving wine I brought it in and gave it to the king. I had never been sad in his presence before, so he asked me, “Why the long face? You’re not sick are you? Or are you depressed?” That made me all the more agitated. I said, “Long live the king! And why shouldn’t I be depressed when the city, the city where all my family is buried, is in ruins and the city gates have been reduced to cinders?”
The king then asked me, “So what do you want?” Praying under my breath to the God-of-Heaven, I said, “If it please the king, and if the king thinks well of me, send me to Judah, to the city where my family is buried, so that I can rebuild it.”The king, with the queen sitting alongside him, said, “How long will your work take and when would you expect to return?” I gave him a time, and the king gave his approval to send me.”
Then I said, “If it please the king, provide me with letters to the governors across the Euphrates that authorize my travel through to Judah; and also an order to Asaph, keeper of the king’s forest, to supply me with timber for the beams of The Temple fortress , The wall of the city, and the house where I’ll be living. The generous hand of my God was with me in this and the king gave them to me. When I met the governors across The River (the Euphrates) I showed them the king’s letters. The king even sent along a cavalry escort.
Nehemiah 2:1-9 MSG
So let’s break this down. Nehemiah got some pretty awful news concerning Jerusalem and the people of Judah. It was so disturbing that he wept. This wasn’t the got teary eyed and felt sorry for them crying, no, he wailed. Sorrowful over the news and acknowledging the cause (sin and rebellion against God) he immediately began to repent, fast and intercede. Our response has been to; excuse, demand, bombard heaven and make reconciliation with ourselves. Forgetting that true reconciliation begins horizontally. We have to first acknowledge and reconcile in our hearts the reason for God’s silence. If God wants a concert, the choir in heaven out ranks us. They’re on their faces day and night crying Holy, Holy Holy! Our worship and prayer borders on whatever we think is going to make Him do what we want. True repentance brings God on the scene. Nehemiah’s approach should be ours as well. Chapter two shows us the result of pure, selfless prayer.
If you continue reading, you’ll find out that intercession will always be met by opposition, ( verse 10) but because God was invited at the beginning, we win in the end. When we start off acknowledging our contribution to the problem, sincerely seeking His face, the Bible says when our ways please the Lord, He makes even our enemies be at peace with us. Proverbs 16:7 We serve the God of the turnaround! As a people and Nation, we have not yet repented. A repentance that causes us to weep over our condition. We have not yet heard The King ask the question. “What is it you want?” And we will never hear it until we truly repent. If we continue lying to ourselves that we’re good, (Luke 18:9-14) while we are seeing sin of all forms on full display, within the church and out, then we’ll only experience God’s silence. We’ll see pockets of His grace but never the abundance of rain He has promised. The Lord knows those that are His, and those who like Nehemiah will set their hearts to seek the Lord, will experience His favor.
So what’s your position? What’s your response? Is your heart broken yet? Or have you grown calloused and indifferent to the degradation of our society? Is Our response like that of Nehemiah? Are you the intercessor that God is looking for? Can He count on you? Calamity and sure judgment, repairing of the breach, is averted and possible only through repentance and intercessory prayer from a broken and contrite heart. God is waiting, the nation is waiting, the world is waiting for intercessors. Will we be the ones, the ones reading this message today? Will we be the difference makers? (Finish reading Chapter 2:11-20) Nehemiah saw firsthand the devastation brought on by rebellion. He wasn’t celebrating a half finished work, he was broken, but encouraged to rebuild by remembering God’s favor. We in America are still under a cloud. People cannot bury their dead, cannot visit their families in hospitals or nursing homes, churches are being given tepid drip drip openings, businesses if they survive, are barely up and running, fear mongering is still being peddled as news, lawlessness and anarchy abounds. In Brazil they’re exhuming the dead to use the graves for fresh burials. We need Jesus! ARE YOU WEEPING YET?
Father in the Name of Jesus, Your Word declares that you’re searching for a person willing to stand in the gap for our nation. An intercessor whose prayer will stop the impending judgement of God. I pray that You’ll find that in me/us. May our hearts be broken by what breaks yours. May we weep as you wept over Jerusalem. Weep over the condition of our Nation! We have sinned, we have broken Your laws. We have taken innocent lives in many forms. We have ignored Your call to repent and have raised our fists in defiance against anything Holy to embrace the profane. Please forgive us and heal our land. We need you! Not for what You can give us, but for who You are to us! We need Jesus! We need a Savior! America needs a cleansing bath in the Blood of Jesus! Forgive us for our complacency, forgive us for our compromising ways. We make no more excuses Lord, we humble ourselves before You, and ask that you have mercy upon us. Forgive our sins and heal our land. In Jesus Name. Amen
“Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior.”
Psalms 24:3-5 NIV
Written by permission of the Holy Spirit