I attended the National Day of Prayer Rally today at the SC State House. I took my camera to capture portions of this sacred event. Many pastors were on the State House steps calling on the Lord, the God of Abraham, Jacob, and Isaac, through His Son, Jesus Christ, and in His name, to hear our prayers...
-prayers for godly wisdom in the Federal and Local governments
-prayers for the presence of Jesus to be present in education
-prayers for the restoration of the family
-prayers for the safety and strength of our military
-prayers for the Church to be the Church
...but the most important prayer of the day, I believe, was the prayer of repentance.
Before God hears any of our prayers, a broken and contrite heart is what He requires. (Psalm 51) Our hearts need to be cleaned, purified, and attentive to the Holy Spirit's conviction of sin. God's ear is close to a heart in the right condition.
Repentance is what we're missing.
I grew up in church. I came to know Christ as my Lord and Savior at the age of five. I've participated in every program imaginable. I've watched preachers, music leaders, youth leaders, teachers come and go. I've been a part of every fad that has come through the church, and I've come to the conclusion that even though we've tried everything under the sun to "do" church the right way, we have failed miserably.
My assessment of failure is measured by the lives that are not changing- changing to become more like Christ. The Church seems to be just going through the motions without the Christ of the Church having any affect on their daily life. Because the Church hasn't surrendered to the power of the Holy Spirit in "being" the Church, we have rendered ourselves powerless to help change the spiritual state of those in the pew and those out in the world.
I truly believe where the Church has missed the boat is in the teaching and discipline of personal and corporate repentance. The Church must be broken before God if we are ever to be used by God.
We need to fall on our knees before Almighty God and pour out our hearts before the Lord of mercy, love, grace, and forgiveness. He's waiting for us to confess our sin, and turn our hearts back to Him so the power of His Holy Spirit can be released in the Church. But sin is hindering and clogging the flow of the Spirit through the lives of His people.
I've often wondered what a Sunday morning would be like if there was no music, no choir, no instruments, no praise team, no band, no formality, no bulletin, no stage lights, no screens, no one on stage or in the pulpit but the pastor preaching repentance from the Word of God. The only movement being knees bending and hearts bowing before the Lord. Confession and the begging for forgiveness for not living out our faith, trying to be something He never meant for us to be, and surrendering to His authority in our lives.
The only other sound would be the Word being preached by a humble pastor who has led the way in repenting and being cleansed of his sinful heart first and then being patient as people get right before God. Preach and pause as souls are being set free.
Could we do it? Could we step away from our divided preferences for one Sunday and just corporately seek the face of God?
I have my doubts, but my God is bigger than my doubts. I sure would love to be a part of a service like that.
If the Church would repent, then we would be revived. If the Church would bow, we could lift our voices in praise. If the Church would empty of self, then we could be filled with the Holy Spirit. Only then will our church buildings be busting at the seams; and not only with many souls fighting for life- eternal life with Jesus Christ, but also with Christians yearning to know Him more.
I'd love to hear your thoughts. What are we missing? Feel free to leave me a comment below.
The Counting of Gifts continued:
1045. Fresh birdseed in the birdfeeders
1046. Surprise visit from Tanna
1047. Answered prayer for no violent weather
1048. National Day of Prayer