We are living in a massive cultural and political revolution raging across the United States. Anarchy reigns in numerous cities. Peaceful and justifiable protests erupted into violence as radical groups intent on inflicting pain and destruction seized the opportunity. As I write, Seattle officials handed over a six block section of their city, including a police precinct, to armed radicals who are publicly recruiting allies with firearms to help guard their perimeter. They plan on taking other Seattle precincts. A Seattle police spokesman said the police are pulling out their hair because the politicians will not commission them to regain lost ground.
I’m equally concerned about the loss of free speech. A UCLA professor may lose his job for refusing to allow students of color to delay taking an exam, a decision his supervisor suggested. An L.A. Galaxy soccer player was fired because of a social post made by his wife. Fear of repercussion is stifling free speech in the United States. Historical statues are being destroyed as our history is rewritten into the mold of the radicals. Their actions remind me of ISIS.
And I wonder, what now? What can I do? What can you do? Circumstances have spiraled out of control so quickly. As I thought about this God’s Spirit reminded me of Nehemiah. As his story opens, Nehemiah, a key counselor to the Persian king, learns from a messenger that the city walls of Jerusalem lay in ruin. The men, women and children lived in fear as they had no way of defending themselves from attack.
Nehemiah knew Jewish enemies would resist rebuilding the city’s defense. The distance, 800 miles, carried risks. Yet, he intended to ask the king if he could return, with resources, to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. While he was a valuable to asset to the king, if his words displeased the ruler, he could be executed.
What did he do?
“When I heard this report, I began to weep and continued mourning for several days, fasting and praying before the God of heaven.
5 I prayed: “Lord, God of heaven, great and awesome God, you preserve your covenant of mercy with those who love you and keep your commandments. 6 May your ears be attentive, and your eyes open, to hear the prayer that I, your servant, now offer in your presence day and night for your servants the Israelites, confessing the sins we have committed against you, I and my ancestral house included. 7 We have greatly offended you, not keeping the commandments, the statutes, and the ordinances you entrusted to your servant Moses . . . 11 Lord, may your ears be attentive to the prayer of your servant and that of all your servants who willingly revere your name. Grant success to your servant this day (Nehemiah 1:4-8,11).
Note three actions he took:
1. He fasted and prayed to the “Lord, God of heaven.” In chapter two we discover he prayed from four to six months. In contrast to the false god’s of the Persians, he beseeched the God of heaven. The God of heaven turns the hearts of kings, presidents, nations, governors, mayors and people. He is the God we must petition on behalf of our country.
2. He confessed his sins and those of his fathers because they greatly offended God. We must humble ourselves and confess our sins and those of our father’s.
3. He asked God to hear his prayer, and the prayers of all who revere his name and grant success. We who revere the Lord, God of heaven, must fast and pray and ask God to hear our requests. We must confess our sins and those of our forefathers. And ask God to bring forgiveness and healing to our land.
You may think: All I can do is pray. Really. Is that all?
Don’t underestimate the power of our combined prayer, confession, and petitions. Nehemiah prayed. God answered. The people rebuilt the walls in record time and a revival erupted.