I believe with all my heart God wants to stop and help America. He has invested too much in our nation and our people to simply pass us by. But a few major shifts must take place before this happens.
I recently wrote a book about eight people Jesus stopped for in the Bible titled When God Stops. I’ve always been curious as to why He stopped for them and bypassed others. I enjoyed delving into the many principles that caused Jesus to stop for each of these individuals. And I encourage the reader to understand how to do the same today.
A friend of mine who just finished reading the book called me and asked a penetrating question: “Will God stop for America?”
Immediately I felt a bolt of life-giving electricity run through my body. I knew I had to seek the Lord for an answer. But before my knees could even hit the ground, II Chronicles 7:14 instantly came to mind:
“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.”
The passage is telling us that prayer works a lot like a baseball game. If the runner doesn’t touch first base, he cannot legitimately move to second. And yet, everyone I have ever heard teach this very popular verse, used it to teach about the importance of prayer. They seemed to skip the principal condition of humility.
Suddenly, I could see why the church lacks the ability to release the healing power that our nation so desperately needs. If we want God to stop, if we want to attract His attention during our time of need, we will need to first take the time to humble ourselves.
Jesus explains this even better in Luke 18:
10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be [a]humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (NKJV, Luke 18:10-14, biblegateway.com)
Let’s take a minute and break this down.
10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
When I read this verse in light of modern America, it could easily read a Republican and a Democrat; a male and a female; a white person and a minority went up to pray. The point of the parable is not that they prayed but how they prayed that made all the difference in whether their prayers were heard.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself…
Notice, Jesus said he prayed with himself. He had obviously reshaped God into his own image and prayed as if The Lord shared his same perspective.
‘God, I thank You
Gratitude is a great place to start but notice all the “I’s” that follow:
I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.
He refused to examine himself before God and instead congratulates himself before God.
13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other…”
The later man’s prayer was not more effective because he was a tax collector, nor the first man’s less effective because he was a pharisee. The Democrat will not be heard over the Republican and the Republican has no special place before the Democrat. It was humility that caused one man to be heard and the other ignored. We see that humility and righteousness (or in the verse above justification) are radically intertwined. Jesus was clear that unless our righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees, we will not obtain kingdom results (Matt 5:20).
Another passage in scripture where we see this type of righteousness in play is in Genesis 18, where Abraham intercedes on behalf of his cousin Lot and the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham humbly asks God, if only fifty righteous were found in Sodom and Gomorrah would He spare the cities? God agrees.
Abraham lowers the number to 45, then 40, then 30, then 20. God agrees. His final plea is to ask God if He would spare the city for only 10 righteous people. God agrees one last time.
You may have read this verse many times, but if you are like me you have probably missed this gem: God did not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah only because its sins were great, but because the righteous were so few.
It is not the greatness of sin alone but that absence of righteousness that ultimately destroys a nation.
Unless there is a revival of humility among the “righteous” in the United States, our prayers will remain unanswered and more and more people will exit our churches. Nevertheless, imagine what would happen if righteous leaders from across the country came together to acknowledge our faults against one another and looked for practical ways to build bridges and to do better. I believe with all my heart God wants to stop for America, but only if we humble ourselves and invite Him to do so.