America, we are praying for you

Published 3:44 pm Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Psalm 33:12

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD.”

As a child, I never really thought of the significance of the Fourth of July. I looked forward to it because we were out of school, and because it was in the middle of summer vacation, we would get to celebrate the day at the pool, a cookout, or a festival. Everyone in town would wear red, white, and blue, and the entire day would lead up to the grand finale – fireworks (my absolute favorite)! I can still taste the countless orange Fred Flintstone push pops I ate as I watched the fireworks in Ellerbe, N.C. on the back of my grandfather’s truck. Those were the days! Thanks for letting me reminisce.

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But as a child, I celebrated without understanding what we were celebrating. Sure, I could have the fun, the food, and the fireworks, but I didn’t realize that all of this was done in celebration for my freedom as an American. It’s about paying tribute to the many men and women who have given their lives so that we could be free to live here!

It’s about expressing heartfelt praise and worship to our God who has allowed us to live in such a great country that grants us the freedom to worship, work, learn, grow, and play…things that many countries in the world cannot do. I praise God that I am an American. I praise the Lord that He has given me the opportunity to live here and grow here in my faith and with my family. I love my country. Don’t you?

And because we all love our country, it’s so hard to watch how we are crumbling at the foundation morally, physically, financially, socially, and, most of all, spiritually. How can we dare ask God to bless that? It’s with a broken heart that I write that while America may celebrate physical freedom, spiritually she is in more bondage than ever before. It doesn’t have to be this way.

You know, I could spend the rest of my column griping and complaining about all that is wrong with our country, but it would do no good for you or for me. We can point fingers at the president or at Congress or at Washington, but the solutions to our problems will never be found there.

The answer is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ, one that is built upon belief and conviction that He has all power, authority, and dominion over not only your life and mine, but over every nation, tribe, and tongue. We were created to be dependent upon God for everything, and we were saved by grace to remain dependent upon Him for everything.

There is no such thing as Independence Day for the believer in Jesus Christ. We are utterly dependent upon our God. So if there is one thing I want to encourage you to do in this column, it is to seek God in prayer for our beloved nation. E.M. Bounds once wrote, “The church upon its knees would bring heaven upon earth.”

We should spend way more time praying than criticizing, complaining, and undermining. Pray for a great awakening to take place in our country. Pray for God to be Lord in the lives of all of our nation’s leaders and government. Pray that every decision we make would reflect our faith in Christ. Pray that the Word of God would be central in our governance. Pray that Christianity in America would mean far more in America than a title, church attendance, and preference-driven entertainment. And pray that we would be a nation whose God is the Lord – and no other!

In December of 1775, American colonists were defeated in a minor conflict with Canadian and British forces at the Battle of Quebec. The colonists retreated back to New York. Many throughout the colonies thought that their freedom might be in jeopardy.

But do you know what the greatest threat to their dreams of being a free, independent nation was? It was their own pride. Ministers from all over the colonies were warning the people from trusting in their own strength rather than God’s. With heavy conviction, Congress sensed a need within their colonies to rededicate themselves to God’s vision for their country, and on March 16, 1776 they put forth a proclamation that on May 17, 1776, the colonies would participate in a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer.

When that day arrived, Dr. John Witherspoon, a Presbyterian minister and president of what would become Princeton University, and one of the eventual 56 signees of the Declaration of Independence, preached these words:

“While we give praise to God, the Supreme disposer of all events, and our intervener, let us guard against the dangerous error of trusting in, or boasting of, and arm of flesh…when it becomes general and infuses itself into the spirit of a people, it is a forerunner to destruction. But if your cause is just, your principles are pure, your conduct prudent, you need not fear of the opposition. What follows from this? That he is a best friend to American Liberty who is most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion.”

After his message was over, Witherspoon found one of the copies of Congress’ flyers that were encouraging people to spend time praying, fasting, and repenting. As he scanned the page he saw these words: “God save these people!” Witherspoon clutched the paper to his chest knowing that God’s salvation was their only hope. Man could not save their land. Only God could. Government could not save their land. Only God could.

That’s exactly where we are over 241 years later. We are still in need of prayer. We are still in need of the Lord. May we never forget how God has blessed us in spite of our sin, and may we never forget that He is the Lord of the United States of America. America, we are praying for you more than ever.

~ Rev. Peter McDonald, Midway Baptist Church