November 25, 2014
Last week, I had the privilege with Gary Frost of leading a day of prayer in Ferguson, Missouri with over 100 pastors, sponsored by the Missouri Baptist Convention. It was an unusual day of intense intercession in this troubled city.
Ferguson is a microcosmic picture of our nation and a sister city that is in need of our deliberate, intense concern and prayers. And what is happening there could happen in your city and mine in a heartbeat. Ferguson is not creating something, it’s revealing something.
One of the most encouraging things to see in Ferguson is the uniting of many pastors and churches in prayer. God is moving in this city in the midst of incredible difficulty.
If we are not careful, we will misinterpret what is happening. We should be like the men of Issachar who understood the times so that they might know what Israel should do. (1 Chronicles 12:32).
In that light, here are 5 prayerful, Biblical steps to take in response to what is happening.
Response #1: GRIEVE
A life has been lost in Ferguson, a family has been shattered, a police officer’s life has been forever changed, racial tension is exploding, anger is evident, businesses are being hurt, evil men are using this moment as an avenue to spread anarchy…and the list goes on. All of these things are tragic. If we are calloused, this will be passed over as background noise of normal American life.
But sensitive believers with spiritual eyes will look more closely and feel more deeply about all of this. “The walls are down and the gates are burned with fire” was the report that came to Nehemiah. His legs went out from under him and he “sat down and wept and mourned for days; and was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” (Nehemiah 1:4) Our hearts should break for the condition of our society and the spiritual diseases it represents.
Response #2: HUMBLY LISTEN
Last night, as I listened to the report from the Grand Jury, the presenter continually mentioned that we must get together and talk so this never happens again. When pressed, he obviously had no answers to why this was happening and what should be done.
Believers DO have answers. But most of us do not understand the depth and pain of racism. If you are Caucasian, you should take this moment to get with an African American believer and ask them how they are honestly feeling about this and why.
You may be shocked at their response and how differently they might be perceiving what is happening based on the level of hurt they’ve gone through in their life. And, I promise you, they have gone through injustice and pain simply because of the color of their skin. Racism is still more rampant than we understand. And Christ is still the answer.
Nehemiah was willing to go to the King and offer himself as a tool to be used as God’s answer to the problem. You must be willing to do the same. And it begins by humble conversations with those in your city.
If we are foolish we will take sides. If we are Biblical we will evaluate clearly, but take God’s side and intercede for all who are being affected on every side. And, we will take up our battle gear against the Enemy and his agenda. Satan loves moments like this.
Response #3: REPENT
God doesn’t have optional responses. He has the right response to every issue. His call to us when sin is uncovered in our hearts, churches, and cities is to repent. We must have a godly sorrow that is so deep it leads to a turning in attitude and action.
There is plenty to repent of in Ferguson and in the city in which you live! When Nehemiah heard of the broken walls and burned gates in his city he began to confess sin. “I and my father’s house have sinned and…have acted very corruptly before You.” (Nehemiah 1:6-7) Take time today to cry out to God and confess both your sins and the sins of our land. This is a non-negotiable component for healing. And if we will repent, God will hear and forgive.
Response #4: UNITE IN EXTRAORDINARY PRAYER!
The pastors in Ferguson told us last week of extraordinary moments of prayer that have occurred in their city. What if we joined them? What would happen if 1 million believers across our nation spent the next days in prayer and fasting on behalf of Ferguson and the needs of our nation?
What if it galvanized us to a tidal wave of prayer? And…what if God in His sovereignty desired to use such a moment to bring us to our knees in repentance and prayer for the ultimate purpose of bringing the blessing of revival and awakening to this city and our nation?
And what if we did not stop praying until God came in power? Nehemiah prayed for four months “night and day.” If we long for the miraculous intervention that Nehemiah saw in his day, we must do the same.
Response #5: BELIEVE!
When Nehemiah prayed, he did not begin with the sin or the response. Look at his first words in prayer:
I said, “I beseech You, O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Your servants, confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have sinned against You; I and my father’s house have sinned. (Nehemiah 1:5-6)
Nehemiah’s prayers were believing prayers, based on the nature of God and the promises of God! He saw God as…
Our prayers for Ferguson and our nation must not be wimpish wishes, but bold prayers to the Sovereign God who can do anything. Approach the Throne in prayer like Nehemiah. We must believe that God can turn this moment to bring healing and revival. Has He not promised it?
He has promised that if “My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14) Ferguson could be the catalyst to lead to national healing…if His people will respond!
March 29, 2023
As a pastor for the last 55 years, I have had the joy of being encouraged and blessed and prayed for by so many people. It is what carries you in your task of shepherding people. As I look back over five decades of ministry, their love has dramatically enriched my life.
But also, a pastor leads. And when anyone leads, there are almost always some who disagree.
March 28, 2023
March 27, 2023