CALL TO PRAYER: A 'great place to start' -- Psalm 27
EDITOR'S NOTE: This column is part of the call to prayer issued by Frank S. Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, to pray for revival and spiritual awakening for our churches, our nation and our world.
KEYSER, W.Va. (BP) -- Our nation continues to experience judgments in weather-related issues, shootings, calamities and punishments. The calls for prayer and the realization of our necessity for the Lord's mercy have grown rapidly in recent years among believers.
Too many churches remain lacking in Holy Spirit power and the effective prevailing prayer that changes a nation, changes families and changes futures. We as church leaders should promote, encourage and lead by example in this needed time of confession and repentance -- in our own lives and in our churches. A great place to start is Psalm 27:7-8: "Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek."
Seeking His face
As we come before the Lord, we do exactly what He asked us to do -- call upon Him; seek His face and wait before Him.
-- Calling upon the Lord is our only hope. Men have tried in vain to muster up their own methods and strength. All the while the enemy has gotten stronger and the evil more perverse. Why does this happen? Because Satan knows that as long as the people of God try to do God's work on their own, their eyes are wrongly fixed. We must "look unto Jesus" (Hebrews 12:2).
-- Seeking His face is what David shares in the Scripture. In Psalm 27:8, the Lord said to David, "My heart says this about You, 'You are to seek My face.'" David immediately replied, "LORD, I will seek Your face." Jeremiah recorded God's words, "You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13). A missionary to India years ago known as Praying John Hyde could pray for hours, meditating on Christ's wounds, His majesty and His glory. Seeking His face is drawing before Him and knowing Him, examining His features as we come before Him in His holy throne room, seeking His face for mercy, giving praise and honor, and making our supplications and intercessions known to Him.
-- Waiting before Him is a lost opportunity for many in the church today. We are so busy, so preoccupied with life that is rare to find one who waits before Him. But it is here that God said we shall find Him. "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10) comes by waiting upon Him and before Him. Alan Redpath said of A.W. Tozer, "When I came to Chicago to pastor Moody Church, A.W. Tozer called me and said, 'Brother, if you want prayer, if you want companionship, join me any day from April to October on the lake front, between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m.'" Redpath said he didn't go often, but when he did go, there was the Lord's servant on his face waiting before the Lord with the Holy Bible open before him. And it was holy ground.
If our plight be the very issue of our sin before Him and in His grieving over us, then would it not be right for us to make confession before Him? Throughout all of Scripture and all of church history, the only restoration of God's favor is confession and repentance before Him. Too often in our churches today, due to ignorance of the Word, men do not know the high offense against God, the Holy One. Leonard Ravenhill called it "the exceedingly sinfulness of sin."
We must examine the Word, see wherein our sin is, know it, acknowledge it and obey Him in fleeing from it. Sin has cost us so much -- so much that we will never know until eternity how much we cost the Kingdom's growth due to our failure.
There are numerous ways to know what sin is. Reading in Scripture, we learn the descriptive terms for sin. We learn what is right and what is wrong. These are often found in the standards of "thou shalt" and "thou shalt not." There are sins of commission (what we do) and sins of omission (failure to obey). There are sins that His Spirit strikes to our hearts that we know are wrong.
-- One such way is to list sins in the Bible as taught to us. Going from Genesis to Revelation, we can record everything God pronounces as evil, wicked or iniquitous.
-- We can examine the accounts of Scripture and see wherein God's wrath and hand stretched out against people, whether His own servants or those who do not know Him.
-- We can create an alphabetical listing from A to Z. Beside each letter, identify a sin to be confessed and repented of. For example:
A -- adultery; atheism; agnosticism; anger;
B -- betrayal of the Lord; blasphemy; burglary;
C -- cursing; cults; confusion; covetousness;
After identifying what the sin is, confession leads us to acknowledge our sin, to "own up" to it.
There are several pronouns that helps us in our confession of sins: personal pronouns -- I have sinned, me, mine; prophetic pronouns -- you have sinned against the Lord; plural pronouns -- we have sinned; they have sinned. Each one of these pronouns helps us see who must confess when sin is committed. Those who are guilty must confess so that God may restore and heal the brokenness and avert the punishment that has been poured out.
True confession leads to repentance. Upon knowing our sin and confessing ownership to the sin, whether personal or plural, the act of repentance is the natural and necessary next step. "We will no longer do this."
-- In the days of Josiah, when the people heard the words of the Law of the Lord, they confessed and then destroyed all false idols and groves that provoked the Lord.
-- Zacchaeus, upon meeting the Lord, confessed and repented by saying, "Look, I'll give half of my possessions to the poor, Lord! And if I have extorted anything from anyone, I'll pay back four times as much!" (Luke 19:8).
Upon repentance, men and women stop doing the wrong and start doing the right. Their lives change, their language changes, their standards change, their habits and practices change. They have a new heart and new walk with the Lord. They begin again to do their first works of love to Christ. They practice holiness and no longer compromise or allow sin in their lives.
We are in a day of evil. May we as leaders lead. We must begin in personal confession and then call our people to confess the sins of our families, the sins of our churches and the sins of our nation. Let us hear the Word of the Lord. Let us repent with a true desire to please Him. May He turn from His wrath and preserve our nation. May He pardon our iniquity. May He renew us in His likeness, power and holiness. May we glorify Him in all the earth for His kingdom purposes and His glory.
Dan Biser is pastor of Zoar Baptist Church in Augusta, W.Va., and Fox's Hollow Baptist Church in Romney, W.Va. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).