It’s the responsibility of Christians to pray for, rather than complain about, their nation, especially during times of trouble, evangelist Luis Palau said Thursday.
Addressing a live Web audience during Evangelism Prayer Day, the famed evangelist stressed the importance of intercession, or prayers to God on behalf of other people or nations.
“It seems to me that the Lord is telling us here ‘if your nation is in trouble, how about looking inward, stop insulting the king, stop insulting the president. Stop saying ‘I can't stand him,’” Palau said.
“Let's we, as Christians, if we pretend we are biblical Christians and we do, then we better take this seriously.”
Thursday marked the National Day of Prayer where Americans across the country gathered in their local communities to pray for all sectors of society, including the government, military, media, church and family. More renowned Christian leaders, including Palau, Pastor Rick Warren, and the Dobsons, streamed their events live.
The Luis Palau Association observed NDOP focusing on intercession and reporting the progress of its global evangelistic ministry.
Intercession, Palau said, is partly about blessing the nations of the world.
“If a nation is in trouble, a lot of the responsibility has to come back to us Christians and to the church,” he emphasized, while lamenting that he now rarely hears pastoral prayers that focus on interceding for those in government.
“Interceding for the government, if we don’t, who knows what hell could break loose,” he said.
Palau called Christians to believe in the power of intercessory prayer and pointed to recent events in the Middle East as evidence.
“Some of us believe that intercessory prayer is part of what is going on in the Middle East, all these revolutions, all these changes, and even the killing of [Osama] bin Laden,” the evangelist noted.
Bin Laden, the founder of al-Qaida who claimed responsibility for the 9/11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in the U.S. 10 years ago, was shot dead Sunday by U.S. Navy SEALs.
The Palau prayer event continued with a report on the ministry’s work around the world.
The ministry held an evangelistic festival in Ho Chi Minh City last month where more than 35,000 people heard the Gospel in communist Vietnam. More than 5,500 individuals made documented decisions for Jesus Christ and each were given a Vietnamese New Testament.
And most recently, Palau addressed a younger crowd of pastors and cultural leaders at the Q conference in Portland, Ore., where participants explored ideas for how to spread the Gospel in an ever-changing culture and post-Christian setting.
Though the younger Christian crowd looks for ways to “change the methodology” when it comes to sharing Christ, as Palau stated, the more traditional evangelist made the point that evangelism is still most important to changing a person’s heart.
“It’s great to do social change, it’s good to help the poor, to help people with AIDS. But unless you change a person’s heart, you’ve really changed nothing. The greatest social action is evangelism,” Palau stressed again on Thursday.
With thousands viewing the prayer event online, the Palau team received 2,000 prayer requests.
Palau told his staff and those watching to pray asking for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and to always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
When we pray, he said, “say ‘Holy Spirit, please teach me to pray.’”
“That implies pray for nations, even more specifically, for opening nations, for shutting the power of darkness, for seeing a tremendous breakthrough.”
Getting a report from Arkansas about a revival happening there, the evangelist praised the local pastor and Christians there as they had been praying every night for an hour and a half for their community.
“They are seeing incredible things, wonderful things happening that God is doing in answer to those prayers.”
Even among the persecuted there can be a revival, Palau said, talking about China that was opened up “even among persecutions here and there.”
“Persecution has been part of the church since the beginning. But it does not mean that there isn’t revival because there is persecution. Sometimes persecution is part of God moving among the people.”
“We need to believe in the power of the intercessory prayer,” he stressed. “Pray in the Spirit, pray [to] God and things will begin to happen.”