*Update: I want to thank Brannon Howse for discussing this handout on his Jan. 7th, 2016 radio show “Worldview Weekend Radio.”
I’d also like to thank Dr. Danielle Wright for discussing the handout on her radio show “Power of Prayer Radio” out of Bakersfield, CA.
On Monday, I will be leaving for Iowa to attend Franklin Graham’s “Decision America Tour” and pass out flyers with the following message:
HOW SHOULD WE PRAY?
Franklin Graham says the church has failed. He says we need to repent of our sins. But how has the church failed? How have we sinned?
We’ve Broken God’s Heart
2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people which are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” What were the “wicked ways” of the ancient Israelites?
“But if you turn away, and forsake my statutes and my commandments, which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods and worship them” (2 Chronicles 7:19) It was wicked to turn away from God’s Word (his statutes and commandments) and worship and serve other gods. Nearly every prophet—Jeremiah, Isaiah, Hosea, Amos, Ezekiel—cried out against Israel’s
This is the same sin the Church has been guilty of throughout history. We haven’t kept the Gospel pure. We have added other “truths,” other lovers, to the scriptures. In the ancient world, the Israelites were adulterous when they added the gods of the surrounding nations to their worship, but Paul said the seduction of the church would lead our minds away from the “simplicity (singleness, purity) that is in Christ.” Satan deceives and seduces us in our thoughts. The high places where idol worship once occurred aren’t in the cleared out groves and under the oak trees; the high places are now the regions of the mind and intellect where Satan wars against the truth. (2 Cor. 10:4-5)
In the past, the Church was seduced over and over into becoming friends with the world. In hopes of befriending the world we embraced Greek philosophy. It led to the Dark Ages and the Inquisition. In hopes of befriending the world we embraced scientific racism. It led to Southern slavery. In hopes of befriending the world we embraced Darwinism, Hegelian philosophy, and historical criticism. It led to Nazism. These are now the places (the Inquisition, slavery, Nazism) where atheists and skeptics attack us!
James warned us against spiritual adultery when he cried out, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? . . . Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? (James 4:4-5) When we are friends with the world, the Holy Spirit becomes jealous!
Yet there has always been a remnant who rejected the world and stood on the scriptures alone . . . and now they are our heroes. Luther and the Reformation. William Wilberforce, William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, and all those who worked to abolish slavery. The Confessing Church that opposed Hitler and Nazism. All of these heroes of the past centuries stood on the Rock of the pure Word.
We are the salt of the earth. In the past when we corrupted the truth, instead of preserving it, MILLIONS suffered and died.
How is the evangelical church being unfaithful now?
1) We’ve corrupted the Gospel with business principles, psychology, mammon (through the prosperity gospel), Old Testament law, science (such as evolution or quantum theory), philosophy, eastern religions, fiction (such as The Shack), man-made traditions, new revelations, dreams, and visions, environmentalism, political ideologies and on and on . . . This list is not exhaustive!
2) We’ve joined with other religions in the hope of bringing about peace and prosperity. This was the root sin of the ancient Israelites also. They worshiped the gods of the surrounding tribes alongside their worship of Yahweh. They never denied God, they just blended with the other gods . . . and it broke God’s heart. What is the source of our peace and prosperity? Is it unity with other belief systems (such as Mormonism, Catholicism, or Islam) like a modern day Tower of Babel, or is it love towards God and His Word?
3) We’ve added mystical experiences to the blood of Christ. Why do we need to add our own efforts to the sacred way provided by Jesus? Contemplative prayers, soaking prayers, labyrinths, the “silence,” centering prayers, and breath prayers are all ADDITIONS to the Gospel…they are the equivalent to the “strange fire” offered by Nadab and Abihu to the blood offering of the lamb.
4) We’ve listened to false prophets and false teachers. These men and women claim to be hearing from God, yet their prophecies seldom come true. They are false prophets and false teachers. Why do we need an extrabiblical revelation from God? Why do we need signs and wonders? Just like the Pharisees, the Word isn’t enough for them. They needed signs. Jesus called them adulterous for this. (They also added man-made traditions to the scriptures.)
We need to stop pointing out the sins outside of the church (abortion and homosexuality) and look at OUR OWN SINS. We have been UNFAITHFUL TO JESUS AND HIS GOSPEL.
Hosea said that God cried out, “How long will my people be incapable of PURITY?” (Hosea 8:5) The prophet Amos said that because Israel’s love for God was impure, God didn’t even want to hear their prayers—even though they offered up blood sacrifices. (Amos 5:21-23) The blood had no power against their unwillingness to repent of their unfaithfulness. They even killed those who brought this message.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” The Greek word for faith is “pistis” and it doesn’t only mean to believe in the truth of something, it also means “faithfulness.” Even the Cross is ineffective against unrepentant unfaithfulness.
We need to PRAY AND REPENT OF OUR UNFAITHFULNESS to Jesus and the Gospel. We’ve “changed the truth of God into a lie” (Romans 1:25) and drank from both the Fountain of Living Waters and broken and dirty cisterns. We’ve become a lukewarm blend that is only good for being spit out.
When King David was unfaithful, he repented, and God called him a man after his own heart. Do we even care about the heart of God? The prophetess Huldah told King Josiah he wouldn’t receive the judgment of God because “his heart was tender” and he had cleansed the land of idols. (2 Chronicles 34:27) Is your heart tender?
We need to prepare ourselves (Rev. 19:7) to be a FAITHFUL bride without spot or wrinkle or any other blemish by being washed by the water of the Word. Our Bridegroom is looking for someone with whom he can be equally yoked, having the same heart and values. And it’s only when we’ve repented of our idolatry (adultery) that God will hear our prayers and heal our land…but even if he doesn’t, YOU can be FOUND FAITHFUL (1 Cor. 4:2) and hear these words when you appear before the Lord, “Well done, thou good and FAITHFUL servant.” (Matthew 25:21)