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Is national repentance required before we pray?

Is national repentance required before we pray?

We are in a moment of national crisis. Yet again. This hour is urgent. Yet salvation is always near close by from the God who hears our prayers.

Repentance from sin plus faith in Christ equals a new life. |

But will prayer on this scale actually work without repenting first as a society or nation? This is not just praying for a job interview, but for the fate of our nation. These topics will provoke collisions of theological controversies. Yet the Bible has a lot to say about repentance from sin, including collectively, as the pathway to receiving what we are praying about.

We are living in a great 2 Chronicles 7:13 moment at a crossroads in history:

2 Chronicles 13 When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people," 14 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.

We love verse 14, but verse 13 warns us that trouble may come – including “pestilence.” The online version of the Cambridge Dictionary defines pestilence as “any very serious infectious disease that spreads quickly and kills large numbers of people.” 

What if an individual Christian intercessor has no unforgiven sin to confess? It seems that the Bible calls upon us to repent on behalf of our nation nevertheless.

“Pestilence” is an odd word, an ugly word. But mostly a word we think is totally irrelevant to our modern world, with our modern science. Should we lightly brush off the Bible’s warnings while deadly pandemics race around the world like Swine Flu, SARS, MERS, and now COVID-19?

This may be controversial for some, but at the dedication of the temple in 1 Kings 8:30-40, God’s conditionality is clear: 

33 “When Your people Israel are defeated before an enemy because they have sinned against You, and when they turn back to You and confess Your name, and pray and make supplication to You in this temple, 34 then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of Your people Israel, and bring them back to the land which You gave to their fathers.

35 “When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, when they pray toward this place and confess Your name, and turn from their sin because You afflict them, 36 then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of Your servants, Your people Israel, that You may teach them the good way in which they should walk; and send rain on Your land which You have given to Your people as an inheritance.

God never stopped loving His people. He called Israel the apple of His eye. (Zechariah 2:7-9).The Lord said that Israel is His betrothed. (Hosea 2:19-20.) Yet despite God’s love and loyalty to Israel, God still warned that great times of trouble will come. But there is an answer, we are instructed. We must turn from our wicked ways and humble ourselves and seek God’s face. (Isaiah 1.) And our entire nation will be healed.

Our modern world – built on the triumph of science and sophisticated medicine – doesn’t need to worry about such things, right? Or can even our mighty civilization crumble? All our technology has been humbled by a sudden and simple little fragment of self-replicating rogue DNA. Not even armies that threatened Israel at various times. Just a tiny capsule of invasive DNA (technically RNA).

The Book of Isaiah, the Prophet, describes a highly-developed, rich, smug, self-congratulatory Israel in the best of times. In Isaiah 3, especially verses 16-26, the people thought they were immune, but God warned that their luxurious and shallow life could come crashing down. Are we so different today?

Now, I am not suggesting that everyone in society must all agree for God to bless a nation. Matthew 5:44 “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.(Emphasis added.) Even in the strictest times of theocratic government, laws were enforced by government leadership, not by random vigilantes.

The story of God reasoning with Abraham over finding a few righteous men to save Sodom tells that we do not need everyone in society to be perfect for God’s mercy to bless us or forgive us. But we do need to show that at least God’s people actually care.

In Luke 5:51-57 the disciples told Jesus that a town refused to receive Him and asked if they should call down fire from heaven on the town not interested in Jesus’ message. Jesus sharply rebuked them and said in effect they completely misunderstood Christ. 

There is nothing more precious to God than people who willingly choose His fellowship and His presence. The entire universe is designed around giving people the opportunity to seek God and find Him. But when even God’s people are blaisé about sin, then the salt has lost its saltiness and is good for nothing but to be trampled under the feet of men.

But what God requires us of now is repentance for our national sins. Prayer alone will not help. Not by itself. If the people repent and ask for forgiveness, God will heal the land and save us from disease and invasion.

Jonathon Moseley is a frequent writer of news analysis and political commentator, who is a leading member of the Northern Virginia Tea Party, and Executive Director of American Border Control. He has worked with dozens of election campaigns, including serving as campaign manager and treasurer for Christine O’Donnell’s 2008 nomination contest for the United States Senate from Delaware. He has a law degree from George Mason University.

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