EDITOR'S NOTE: This first-person is part of a series of first-persons Baptist Press will publish in anticipation of the 40/40 Prayer Vigil for Spiritual Revival and National Renewal. The 40/40 Prayer Vigil is an initiative of the North American Mission Board and Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission to encourage Southern Baptists and other evangelicals to pray for 40 days from Sept. 26 to Nov. 4. To learn more, visit www.4040prayer.com.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- This election year, 2012, more Americans than usual feel that the country is at a crossroads and is in the midst of making an election decision as important to the future direction of the country as has been made in any election since 1860.
I can imagine no better way to be prepared to exercise our God-given freedom to vote for the person God would have serve as our congressman, senator, governor or president than to follow the 40/40 prayer guide. You start off with seven days of prayer for "personal" revival, followed by six days of prayer for "church" revival and five days for revival among the church's "leadership." After starting with individual repentance and holiness, we move on to the church and to the nation and its need for spiritual repentance, revival, renewal and reformation.
Then, as commanded by God, we pray for all public officers in the sure and certain trust that the heart of the king is "in the hand of the Lord" and that God "turneth it whithersoever he will" (Proverbs 21:1).
Then we pray for "discernment" and "wisdom" to elect the best officials to serve the nation in public office.
How better to prepare ourselves to exercise that discernment than to be as "prayed-up" with God as possible and in harmony with the Holy Spirit? We must first focus on our vertical, personal relationship with our Heavenly Father before we can pray with real power and discernment for horizontal relationships with others.
The Apostle Paul commanded the Ephesian Christians to "walk circumspectly, not as fools ... redeeming the time because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:15-16). The word "time" in that passage is not "chromos," for time in its 24-hour calendar day sense, but "kairos," the Greek word for time in its propitious or strategic moments. Paul called on the Christians to pounce upon such moments and to "redeem" them for God and His kingdom.
In the providence of God we have been called to serve God at such a "kairos" moment. Why is it so crucial? Here are a few examples:
-- This coming election will set the course for the Supreme Court for a generation. The current Court is delicately balanced and the person elected president this year will nominate, and the senators elected will in all probability confirm two or three new justices in the next four years. This will set the direction for the court for two decades.
-- The next four years will largely determine whether so-called same-sex marriage will be accepted across the nation or not. The officials we elect and the civil servants they nominate will have an enormous impact on that decision.
-- The new pro-life demographic majority will either be accepted as the new norm or will be stifled by obstructionist, pro-choice elected and appointed officials.
-- The nation will fail to acknowledge that it is practicing generational theft by stealing our children's and grandchildren's futures with profligate government spending or it will accept that the country has been living beyond our means and will insist the government take measures to address our staggering and rapidly growing national debt.
Use this guide. Get "prayed up" and then pray for God to bless America and to give Americans spiritual discernment as they head to the polls the first Tuesday in November.
Richard Land is president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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