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Shootings, sin, suffering: What can turn America around?

Prayer
A man seen praying in this undated photo. |

When I write about turning America back to God, I’m not under the delusion that we can create heaven on earth — evil will always fight against good. I’m talking about the desperate need for God’s people to seek Him: “The Lord is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you” (2 Chron. 15:2).

America’s decadence and depravity — from mass shootings and extreme violence to sexual abuse and perversion — is a direct result of rejecting God and suppressing the truth (cf. Romans 1). 

The futility of one nation “above” God 

America's foundation was once securely built on God‘s Word, but not so today. Massive cracks in the foundation have led to the complete deterioration of society. For more, watch The Futility of One Nation Above God. But believe it or not, this shift away from God is not uncommon throughout our nation's history. Remember, evil is always working against good.

Revival historian J. Edwin Orr once noted: “Not many people realize that in the wake of the American Revolution there was a moral slump … and churches were in a terrible state.” Chief Justice John Marshall wrote that they were “too far gone ever to be redeemed.” Voltaire and Paine suggested that Christianity would be forgotten in 30 years. Princeton, Yale, and Harvard had all drifted from God as students burned the Bible in the public square. 

A spiritual earthquake is often God’s answer

It’s in these dark moments that the church can be awakened from her spiritual slumber and revived. From California's early years of building missions to New England’s revivals under Whitefield, Wesley, and Edwards, God often pours His Spirit upon those who are desperate for more of Him. His life-giving rain floods the soil of the heart that is prepared. 

What are you doing to prepare the soil of your heart?

There is one condition that must be met; one solution that must be sought; one cure that must be applied. It’s simple, but it’s not easy: heart-searching, life-altering prayer and fasting. 

Fasting, along with prayer, is a final step of desperation. In essence, we are saying, “The flesh got us into trouble, only prayer, fasting, and humility can get us out.” To be clear, fasting isn’t a good work; it simply positions us to hear from a good God

From Joel to Esther, and from Nineveh to Ezra, fasting secured God’s protection or stayed His hand of judgment. 

Dethrone king stomach

Since the 1700s, America has called for over 140 national days of prayer, humiliation, fasting, and thanksgiving. Sadly, today fasting is replaced with bacon, eggs, and sausage rather than brokenness, surrender, and desperation. 

I can hear it now, “But Shane, not as many people will attend prayer meetings and gatherings if we don’t serve food.” And therein lies the problem — King Stomach is still on the throne for many of us. I’d rather have a small hungry remnant than a large stuffed gathering pleading for our country.

Food can be good and God-given, and there are times for feasting and fellowship, but spiritual apathy has obviously run its course. Just like in the prophet Joel’s time, it's time to call America to prayer and fasting.

Too busy for God

From the upper room in Acts to the walls of the catacombs — and from the bended knees of the Puritans to us today — we must lay hold of the baton of prayer and run as if nothing else matters — because nothing else does.

Instead of rushing into prayer with our list of wants, we must wait on God to show us our true needs. Often, we are too busy to hear from Him. Oh, how it must pain the heart of God. He wants to calm our restless soul, but we’re too busy to wait, too rushed to be still, and too preoccupied to focus. After all, we have things to do and places to go — we are simply too busy for God! 

The more I seek Him, the more I find Him

Scripture is clear: Only those who “wait upon the Lord will renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31).Prayer requests must follow intimacy with God. Instead, we often enter into prayer like a child who runs into the room and grabs his parents’ attention, and then quickly exits. 

Can you imagine the knowledge and wisdom that goes unheard because we give God so little time to speak to us? Intimacy must precede petition.Once we spend time quietly seeking the heart of God, then we can present our requests to Him (cf. Phil. 4:6). 

The more we seek Him, the more we find Him.That may not be proper English but it’s wonderful theology.

Apostasy begins at the closet door

Matthew Henry once wrote, “Apostasy begins at the closet door.” During quiet times of intimacy, God deals with us about certain habits that must go. He may also confront pride and a critical spirit. God also gives us wisdom and discernment and reinforces His will in certain areas. Avoiding the prayer closet is really avoiding conviction and repentance.

We have a choice to either pursue God or to let the relationship fall to the wayside. Which direction will you take?

The decadence and depravity we are seeing in America today is astounding and overwhelming. Are we too far gone? Have we reached the point of no return? Is there any hope? 

With God, there is always hope, but it will involve focused prayer, intentional fasting, and genuine perseverance — “But you, be strong and do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded” (2 Chronicles 15:7).

Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California, just North of Los Angeles. Shane's sermons, articles, books, and radio program can all be found at shaneidleman.com or wcfav.org. He is the author of Feasting & Fasting, If My People, Desperate for More of God, and Help! I'm Addicted. Follow him on Facebook at: facebook.com/confusedchurch. You can also follow Pastor Shane on the new free speech platform Parler https://parler.com/profile/ShaneIdleman/posts

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