Land urges America to 'sustained prayer'
INDIANAPOLIS (BP)-—These are dire times, Richard Land said, when the only hope is a revival that ripens into a spiritual awakening to usher in a "reformation that will change America for Jesus Christ."
"That is the only answer for our country," Land said during the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission's June 10 report to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Indianapolis. Land is marking his 20th year of service to Southern Baptists as head of the convention's ethics and moral concerns entity.
"The hope for America will not come from Washington, D.C., not from the Supreme Court and not from Congress," Land said. "The future of America is in the prayer closets and in the hearts of believers all across the nation.
"Our nation needs a great movement of the Holy Spirit," he said, "and it is not going to happen without sustained prayer."
Reading 1 John 1:9 from his Bible, Land said, "There is no good reason for any of us to leave this auditorium tonight with any unconfessed sin in our lives."
Land continued, "Imagine what would happen if we left here with no unconfessed sin in our hearts. It must begin with us." The nation's "God-sized problems," he said, "are beyond our programs and our resources."
"It is time to come back to God and we must come back on our knees."
Land unveiled plans for a convention-wide prayer emphasis leading up to this year's general elections. The 40/40 Prayer Vigil will begin Sept. 24, 40 days prior to Election Day and will conclude with "40 hours of intensive prayer," Land said. He told messengers that more information on the prayer vigil, as well as downloadable prayer guides, would be available soon at iLiveValues.com/prayer.
Prayer is the only hope in a nation that is looking more and more like Corinth, Land said, noting that the city to which Paul addresses two letters included in the New Testament was the sexual and moral cesspool of the Roman Empire.
Although the number of born-again evangelicals in the United States has been on the rise, Land noted, "Instead of influencing the culture, the culture is influencing us."
He recalled a 2002 luncheon meeting with then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, in which Ashcroft asked Land, Focus on the Family's James Dobson and Prison Fellowship's Chuck Colson what they considered to be the most critical issue facing America.
Land said he told Ashcroft that his concern for human life had been eclipsed by the fact that the "spiritual and moral wasteland of pornography" was destroying the lives of countless men and boys in America. Dobson cited the "radical homosexual agenda's attempt to undermine and destroy the family," while Colson referenced the sanctity of human life issue.
Land called these issues three of the four modern-day horsemen of the apocalypse that are unleashing "wrath and destruction upon America." He said the fourth modern horseman is radical Islamic jihadism, which has "declared war on America and American Christianity."
He called this strain of the Islamic faith a "death cult," saying it represented only a small percentage of Muslim believers.
"This is a spiritual and military battle," Land said, noting, "When they are at war with us, we had best be at war with them."
Christians need to bring their biblically informed values to bear on the culture, Land said, noting, "Contrary to what we have been told, Americans want people of faith to bring their values and convictions to bear on public policy."
In this election year, "We should not be endorsing candidates; we should be looking for candidates who endorse us and our beliefs, our convictions and our values," Land said.
He said the ERLC partnered with LifeWay Research in asking Americans to provide their level of agreement or disagreement with the statement: "I am concerned that at times Christians are too involved in politics." Over half of all Americans surveyed (52 percent) disagreed with the statement, Land said.
Americans who described themselves as "born again," "evangelical" or "fundamentalist," including Southern Baptist respondents, expressed the highest degree of disapproval (72 percent) with the statement.
"We should not be silenced, intimidated or cowed by those who don't want to hear what we have to say," Land declared.
Land also expressed gratitude to Southern Baptists for their faithful support of the ERLC through the Cooperative Program.
Before Land's report to messengers, LifeWay Christian Resources President Thom S. Rainer presented limited edition leather-bound copies of the recently released "A Matter of Conviction," the history of Southern Baptists' engagement with the culture, to Land and the book's author, Jerry Sutton, pastor of Nashville's Two Rivers Baptist Church. The book is a release from LifeWay's B&H Publishers division.
Dwayne Hastings is a vice president with the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.