EDITOR'S NOTE: Frank S. Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, has issued a call to prayer for revival and spiritual awakening for our churches, our nation and our world during 2013. In addition, the month of January has been designated a month of prayer on the convention's calendar. Baptist Press will carry first-person articles during the year encouraging Southern Baptists to pray in specific areas and for specific needs as we petition the Father for spiritual awakening.
NASHVILLE (BP) -- In 75 days the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the constitutionality of two laws, one a bipartisan legislative act, the other a citizen-driven initiative. The high court will consider the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8 on March 26 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act on March 27.
I call on Southern Baptists and other like-minded followers of Christ to join me in praying for our nine Supreme Court justices and for those who will present oral arguments before them.
How should we pray?
First, we pray that God's will be done. Though our preference is for God to extend mercy to us, the Lord is a Righteous Judge. If He allowed judgment to fall upon His chosen people throughout history, how much more on a nation that forgets God?
Consider: The sword did not depart from David's household. The kingdom divided under Rehoboam. Samaria (the northern kingdom of Israel) fell to the Assyrians. The southern kingdom of Judah, including Jerusalem, was conquered and the temple destroyed by the Babylonians. The second temple was utterly destroyed by the Roman emperor Titus.
In each instance, God's will was accomplished -- punishment was permitted against the sinful nation for the purification of the remnant whose hearts were drawn back to the Lord. Habakkuk's words are particularly relevant, "LORD, I stand in awe of Your deeds. Revive Your work in these years; make it known in these years. In Your wrath remember mercy!" (Habakkuk 3:2).
Second, we plea for God's mercy rather than His justice. We pray for the hearts and minds of the justices. We cannot imagine the external pressures being brought to bear on each judge. Their positions are designed as lifetime appointments to help minimize the politicization of their duties. However, they, like us, long to be liked and appreciated by individuals who are often politically connected and considered intellectually sophisticated.
The president has signaled his desires, having instructed the Justice Department not to defend the law of the land enacted by Congress. But God, who is rich in mercy, is able to move the hearts of kings. His Spirit can work in ways we cannot fathom to help guide and sway each justice. It only takes five justices to establish the constitutionality of these laws and rescue our nation from the precipice of moral destruction. We pray for them.
Third, we pray for supernatural wisdom for those who argue for the constitutionality of these two initiatives. The law is a fluid thing. It is always being shaped by a combination of factors, including precedent, logic, the effect of past laws on the human condition, and even personal charisma of the presenters.
Perhaps no idea has more shaped Supreme Court deliberations over the past few decades than the principle of fairness. Truth and justice do not always seem fair to our fallen minds. Morality does not always seem reasonable. Our sinful hearts are frequently darkened so that evil is considered good and good is considered evil.
We pray that the individuals selected to argue for the constitutionality of traditional marriage will have keenness of insight, eloquence and logical consistency in their arguments and in response to each question directed their way. We pray their arguments will be biblically sound, compelling, reasonable and persuasive.
Fourth, the Psalmist frequently asked the Lord to let the wicked be caught in their own schemes (Psalm 10:2). Let us petition the heavenly Father that those who argue against biblical truth will be ensnared in their own pride and be taken captive by their own conceits.
Fifth, the best way for God's people to pray, of course, is to pray His Word back to Him. Isaiah 59 (reprinted below) is a most fitting text for us to pray as we intercede on behalf of our nation. Let me urge you to pray this passage to the Lord, acknowledging His might, His ability and His willingness to rescue our land from imminent moral peril.
Frank S. Page is president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee.
Isaiah 59, Holman Christian Standard Bible
"1Indeed, the LORD's hand is not too short to save, and His ear is not too deaf to hear.
2 But your iniquities have built barriers between you and your God, and your sins have made Him hide His face from you so that He does not listen.
3 For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers, with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, and your tongues mutter injustice.
4 No one makes claims justly; no one pleads honestly. They trust in empty and worthless words; they conceive trouble and give birth to iniquity.
5 They hatch viper's eggs and weave spider's webs. Whoever eats their eggs will die; crack one open, and a viper is hatched.
6 Their webs cannot become clothing, and they cannot cover themselves with their works. Their works are sinful works, and violent acts are in their hands.
7 Their feet run after evil, and they rush to shed innocent blood. Their thoughts are sinful thoughts; ruin and wretchedness are in their paths.
8 They have not known the path of peace, and there is no justice in their ways. They have made their roads crooked; no one who walks on them will know peace.
"9 Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We hope for light, but there is darkness; for brightness, but we live in the night.
10 We grope along a wall like the blind; we grope like those without eyes. We stumble at noon as though it were twilight; we are like the dead among those who are healthy.
11 We all growl like bears and moan like doves. We hope for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us.
12 For our transgressions have multiplied before You, and our sins testify against us.
For our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities:
13 transgression and deception against the LORD, turning away from following our God,
speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering lying words from the heart.
14 Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far off. For truth has stumbled in the public square, and honesty cannot enter.
15 Truth is missing, and whoever turns from evil is plundered.
"The LORD saw that there was no justice, and He was offended.
16 He saw that there was no man—He was amazed that there was no one interceding; so His own arm brought salvation, and His own righteousness supported Him.
17 He put on righteousness like a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head; He put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and He wrapped Himself in zeal as in a cloak.
18 So He will repay according to their deeds: fury to His enemies, retribution to His foes, and He will repay the coastlands.
19 They will fear the name of Yahweh in the west and His glory in the east; for He will come like a rushing stream driven by the wind of the LORD.
20 'The Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those in Jacob who turn from transgression.'
This is the LORD's declaration.
21 'As for Me, this is My covenant with them,' says the LORD: 'My Spirit who is on you, and My words that I have put in your mouth, will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouth of your children, or from the mouth of your children's children, from now on and forever,' says the LORD."
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