Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Call to Prayer on August 6

A few weeks ago (on May 18) Texas Governor Rick Perry wrote a letter to the governors of each of the other states inviting them to join him on August 6 at Reliant Stadium in Houston "for a solemn day of prayer and fasting on behalf of our troubled nation."

Why?

He wrote: "As governors blessed to serve our respective states, we are all too aware of the struggles our citizens face that are often beyond the power of government to solve. Try as we might, we cannot right every wrong, prevent bad things from happening to good people or sign laws that cause people to treat one another with love, decency and respect.

"Given the trials that beset our nation and world, from the global economic downturn to natural disasters, the lingering danger of terrorism and continued debasement of our culture, I believe it is time to convene the leaders from each of our United States in a day of prayer and fasting, like that described in the book of Joel."

He is referring to Joel, Chapter 2, and I'm betting you haven't read Joel lately. I hadn't. So I went back and read it again. A plague of locusts had devastated the land, the economy, and with it the social infrastructure of the nation. The people were in great despair. Joel calls upon the people to gather for a solemn assembly. Everyone needed to be there--even the aged, the children and nursing mothers. Get the just married out of bed (yes, he really says that) and get them there, he says. After you've gathered, cry out to God and see what He will do. "Even now--[this is] the LORD'S declaration--turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Tear your hearts, not just your clothes, and return to the LORD your God. For He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in faithful love, and He relents from sending disaster. Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave a blessing behind Him..." (Joel 2:12-14).

Governor Perry concluded his letter: "Our nation was blessed to have founders who were both righteous and prayerful. I am not one who believes that our culture and society cannot be redeemed and renewed. But I believe it will take a great amount of prayer, and a renewed commitment to spiritual principles, to get our nation back on track. Let us not delay in doing what is right for our people and their future."

Once word got out that Governor Perry was calling for people to gather for a solemn assembly folks started asking questions: why would Governor Perry do this, is it an election ploy since he may be running for President, won't this turn into a political rally for the conservatives ... on and on the questions go.

When I was invited to meet with some of the organizers of the event, I had questions going into the meeting. (I sometimes think I have the spiritual gift of skepticism. ) I'll just be candid -- a city-wide solemn assembly is not the kind of thing I am naturally drawn to, but as I listened to Doug Stringer and others speak I decided this is something I need to support. Why? Here are some of my thoughts:

1. This will be a solemn assembly, not a political rally. Governor Perry is not organizing this event. That has been turned over to a group of folks, many of whom I know and trust, who are committed to keeping the event's focus spiritual, not political.

2. Our attention will be focused on God in worship and prayer. It will not be a celebrity parade; most of the folks who will lead in prayer will be folks you've never heard of ... ordinary folks like you and me. There will be no sermons or speeches; the organizers promise every speaker's platform time will be limited to a period of 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

3. While anyone is welcome to come, this is an event for the Christian church. The focus will not be on "political correctness." When folks pray, they will pray in the name of Jesus.

4. Originally, it was to be in Dallas, but the venue they wanted wasn't available. So the organizers turned to Houston. It seems providential to me, given the recent media attention surrounding the national cemetery in our city, that the event should be here rather than Dallas!

5. There is risk involved. Someone could say or do something inappropriate, but safeguards will be in place to keep things from getting too far out of hand. Even though there is some risk involved, I believe it is a risk worth taking.

6. The greatest risk may be for Governor Perry. If he is interested in running for President of the United States, being so clearly identified as a Christian who believes the future of our country rests on the providential and intervening activity of God may be more detrimental to his political campaign than helpful.

I have adjusted my schedule so I can participate. I'll be there to pray with brothers in sisters in Christ. I probably won't have on sackcloth and ashes, but I will be there in a spirit of humility. The body of Christ is so diverse I don't expect to be comfortable with everything that happens, but that's not the point. I can handle a little discomfort if what we are doing honors Christ.

I ask you:

1. To join me in Reliant Stadium, August 6

2. To reach out to your network and circle of friends and invite them to come with you

3. To pray for this to be a day that honors God and blesses our nation

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for this Tom. I've come to many of the same conclusions that you've shared here. I plan to attend and participate fully.

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  2. I remain skeptical. The best politicians are adept at making maneuvers that are not overtly political, but in the end, result in political gains. I have never met Governor Perry, and I believe that he was sincere in his letter about the event. In doing so, however, I believe this gathering is a political win-win for him.

    God will be prominently discussed throughout the primaries and depending on the Republican nominee, into the presidential election as well. Evangelical Christians make up a considerable block of the Republican vote, and polls suggest that they still have not identified their candidate. Perry's history aligns him with that block, and suggesting this gathering does not hurt his presidential chances, it helps them. Perry is never going to appeal to a broad base by taking a middle road- being the Governor of Texas took that possibility away. If Perry announces his candidacy, he will rely on the strategy of “my most ardent supporters will overwhelm those who are piecing together support from a broad spectrum.” Perry is already a divisive choice, and this could be merely playing to his strengths.

    In spite of the political lens through which I often view the world, I believe in the theology of a solemn assembly. I believe in crying out to God, I believe in repentance, and I believe He is compassionate. I believe God hears the prayers of his children. That said, I have not decided whether or not I will attend the event.

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  3. Tom: Thanks for posting.

    I am participating in The Response because I believe Jesus is the only hope for our nation. If the President of the USA or the Mayor of Houston called the church to seek Jesus for our city or nation, I would support that call to prayer.

    Jackson Senyonga, a minister from Uganda, is one of the international voices calling America back to Jesus. Several years ago, Jackson felt the Lord said the following about America: “The cry of sin is louder than the cry of intercession.”

    May the Lord use this call to a Joel 2 Solemn Assembly to turn hearts and lives back to the Jesus. May believers rise up to pray with repentance, hope, faith, and fervor all across the land.

    Also, we know that people from other nations are praying for the USA. I don't want us to drop the ball. I want us to do our part in crying out to the Lord. The Solemn Assembly on August 6 is one way for us to do our part.

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  4. This event is not without precedent; it is not only biblical, of course, but has occurred in American history. Governor Perry has great courage to issue such a (currently) "politically incorrect," but desperately-needed call. Of course he realizes there could be political repercussions, but his burden far outweighs any such concern. The following link is from The Worldview Church's website, and explains the historical foundation of calls for Solemn Assembly:

    http://worldviewchurch.org/columns/featured-column/346-solemn-assembly-its-historical-foundation

    I am utterly astonished, and thrilled, that this call has been issued! In a very definite way I believe Governor Perry is exercising his divinely-vested authority (Rom 13:1) to act in the best ultimate interest of the people by inviting other governors, and calling for all Christians who are willing and able, to gather for the express purpose of confession, repentance, and seeking God's mercy and grace for the welfare of this nation (1Tim 2:1-4). Out of respect for the Scriptures and our Governor's call, we should attend.

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