It Is Time

“At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord”    Genesis 4:26

Years ago in an unfinished musty room in the basement of our home, I created a place where I could get away and study. One Saturday evening, overcome with a burden to pray, I pulled away to my moldy retreat. The church I led faced overwhelming circumstances. We desperately needed God’s intervention. I could not produce what they needed, but I knew Who could. Good sermons just weren't getting it. We needed more. So I prostrated myself on the cold, damp concrete floor and called on the name of the Lord.

What drives people to pray? Usually when things spiral out of control, we can’t manage our circumstances and life becomes filled with more battle than beauty, we seek the aid of God.  The need at hand is bigger than our ability to meet it. Someone has correctly asserted, “There are no atheists on the battlefield.” So true!

The Genesis 4 account marks the first time people began to pray and seek the God of heaven. The question on the table is, What drove them there? What marked that time as opposed to other times when they didn't feel the need to call on God? 

Genesis 4 recounts the rise of jealousy, hatred and bitterness taking over the human race. Adam and Eve’s sin is evident as men took justice into their own hands, murdering their fellow man. There was a flood of anger among men. Sin was introduced in Genesis 3 and the results came to bear in Genesis 4. Reaping the fruit of their own sin, men were pressed to call on the name of the Lord. That time was a hard time.

“What,” I ask, “will provoke Christians to call on the name of the Lord today? When will the prayer meeting (which sounds so archaic because it rarely exists in the American church today) be filled with people passionately seeking God’s heart? When will calling on the name of the Lord be as important as listening to the sermons of men?” 

History records how fervent prayer always preceded a fervent church. Today the church knows little to nothing of this precedent, and the lack of prayer reveals it. Likewise, the straying condition of America, I believe, is the fruit of a prayerless church.

However, a world out of control can serve to propel people to call on the name of the Lord. At that time, to date the most difficult time known to humanity as recorded in Genesis, men called on God. In difficulty, prayer becomes the norm and intercession is no longer limited to people we consider weird, deep, or serious. It's the response of desperate people.

Yesterday, I received an email from a Ugandan pastor and he reflected on the prayer life of his congregation. As I read his words I was convicted to my bones! He writes:
We fast and pray as many times as we need to. We have a prayer group that has prayer and fasting three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This is routine for us. Sometimes we do more, like this week, the whole church will fast and pray from Wednesday to Saturday, except for the ministers who will have a dry fast * for three days. So the ministers will fast for five days. For us prayer and fasting is as real as eating food.
*Note: A dry fast means no water or food for three days!

America is ripe for ruin. This is no longer the message of angry Bible thumping preachers, it's common journalism reported from governmental agencies. While attendance at mega churches rival the population of small cities, the collective righteousness in the church-at-large is not potent enough to transform the culture of a single city in our nation. There are a few, albeit very few, exceptions. On our watch the nation perishes.

I realize it’s an acidic message that sets one's teeth on edge. With rolled eyes I hear someone declare, “Another Doomsday-er!” But not so fast! Allow me to offer an additional note that will hopefully bring some harmony to an otherwise sour sound. We’re also poised for revival. 

History records that the most spectacular life is birthed from a grave rather than a nursery. There are numerous Biblical and modern examples, Jesus Christ himself standing as the perfect model.

And so it can be at this time, if--and this is the condition--people begin to call upon the name of the Lord. God breathing life into His church or a nation was always preceded, and this without variance, by a praying people. 

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