Power: Praying against Evil; Praying for Good
By Dr. Robert Youngblood
“Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.” – Psalm 85:9
“I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.” – John 17:15
Light travels at a known speed of 186,000,000 miles per second, but it is a turtle compared to the speed of prayer. The part where we get confused about the speed of our prayers is when we finally notice the answers. That may take seconds, days, weeks, months, or years.
Even so, we continue to pray.
Where is our power in prayers against evil and for good?
“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” – Psalm 8:3-4
Think on this a moment: If there’s no condemnation to those who are in Christ, and the prayers of a righteous man avail much, and Christ is our righteousness, what should that lead us to conclude about the power of our prayers as we pray—for our nation, for our families, for ourselves?
This isn’t about “me” or “you.” It isn’t about “us” or “them.” Like John the Baptist, we have to say, “He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
David Butts in his book, With One Cry, shares, “I’m convinced that we will never be able to see all that God desires for our nation until we clearly draw a line and make sure we are, first of all, seeking His Kingdom.” If that sounds familiar, then you may be thinking of Matthew 6:33.
Crying Out with Power
Crying out in fear, worry, frustration, or pain is something men in America are not encouraged to do. It’s as if those problems wrestle with us and shedding a tear would be like submitting in a fight against a sibling—crying “uncle” so the pain would cease. It would be an admission of our weakness and the problem’s strength.
Whether man or woman we don’t have to cry “uncle.” Instead, we cry out to our Father (Ephesians 6:10-12) who cares for us. So crying out to God is an admission of his greatness, the problems’ weaknesses, and our willingness to act as he guides us in what to do.
God’s Word is truly a “lamp unto our feet” when the darkness and evil of the world try to engulf us. Why is this important?
Light is a force of power. Darkness is not. It merely reoccupies the space vacated by light. It is nothing more than the absence of light. Who among us, upon entering a dark home, yells out, “Honey, would you please turn the darkness off?” No one. We ask “Honey” to turn the light on. Why? Because we intuitively know darkness isn’t affirmative, it’s passive. We know, at the very moment light is introduced into a dark room, that darkness is instantly vanquished. (Abraham Hamilton, III, in “Salt and Light”)
Yet evil doesn’t feel passive, does it?
We know the Devil wanders about looking to consume. The implied passiveness is more about how inept or inadequate the powers of evil are compared to our awesome God and the ultimate victory we hold regardless.
The reality is we have to have to be clothed in our armor, ready to fight, but like Proverbs says the horse is prepared for battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord. Yes, we’re the horse in that, but no need for a long face as we simply prepare and act accordingly praying for wisdom as we go.
Power of Preparedness—Individually
The power of our prayers comes from God through Jesus. It started with one word as we responded to the Gospel and moved forward in our lives.
David Butts explains,
“We know the importance of repentance to an individual. [And] When those gathered in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost heard the first gospel message from Peter and asked how they might be saved, Peter’s response was, “Repent and be baptized.” We also know how important it is for believers to walk in repentance as we are made aware of our sin.”
Awareness and repentance of sin is obedience. From this obedience, the Holy Spirit is not hindered from interpreting and delivering our prayers to God.
Power of Prayer for Our Nation
Once we are individually prepared with the willingness to act on the guidance from repenting, then the power of prayer for our nation is unleashed.
Again, David Butts explains in the chapter “The Role of Repentance”,
“The main message from God to nations seems to be repent. [And then] But why should a nation repent? And how do we repent as a nation? The spiritual principle appears to be that God only puts up with national sin for a season, and then He calls a nation to repent and turn from its sin.”
He notes if the nation has been blessed by God and is aware of him, then it seems to receive less time to repent. As for the how to repent, we’ve already discussed individual repentance. He shares the repentance of leaders.
Now whether these leaders are always political or not, I do not know. But the examples in the Bible and in his chapter point to political leaders’ willingness to repent also.
For instance, in Jonah 3:4-9 we see the message to repent move from the people until it finally reaches the king’s ears. First, the people heard and acted by fasting and putting on sackcloth. Then the king heard the call to repent. The king repents and as part of his authority to act issues a proclamation to the rest of Nineveh.
In last part of the proclamation from verse 8 and in verse 9, we see directives to the citizens, a king’s surrender and humbleness despite having great earthly power, and his willingness to realize even this may not appease a holy God:
“…let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in hands. Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?” – Jonah 3:8-9
Proclamations like these have occurred before in America.
The first nationally proclaimed day listed by David Butts is only about 22 years after the birth of America, our Independence Day of July 4, 1776. While we had gained independence from Great Britain, apparently we had grown too independent from God in such a short time.
President John Adams made a proclamation for a day of fasting, prayer, and humiliation to occur on May 9, 1798. Part of it reads,
“AS the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and blessing of Almighty God; and the national acknowledgement of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him…I HAVE therefore thought it fit to recommend…a day of Solemn Humiliation, Fasting, and Prayer…”
How many citizens had already started their own repentance, fasting, and humiliation before God well before Adams made this proclamation? How many more were reached and chose to act because of the proclamation? Only God knows that, but we can be certain not everyone took part.
And the Angels Applauded with Shouts of Joy
Thank God it doesn’t take every individual in a nation to repent.
Just like the citizens of Nineveh, if you’re concerned about our nation, then today is the day. Please don’t start calling for our leaders to proclaim something like this until you address a question I first read in Ravi Zacharias’ book Deliver Us From Evil.
The question I remember is, “What are you doing about the evil you see in yourself?”
Not sure what to do yet?
“In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.” – Luke 15:10
Repentance is first an individual measurement of self against God’s standards and agreeing he is right. It is turning from calling evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20) and turning to the love of God through Jesus as the redeemer of the relationship God desires with us instead of the punishment required by God’s holiness and just character (John 3:16-18). God is love, but any god which doesn’t include the holiness and the just character is a false idol.
Whether you are Christian or not, if you want God to hear your cries that his power may stop the guaranteed end result of evil (God’s wrath) in each of our lives and on our land, then it starts with repenting individually first.
The dangerous (to your pride) and honest prayer is something like, “God, if I am calling something good which you know is evil, then show me. Show me even if the culture calls for it or thinks it is normal. Show me if my soul is in danger or risks being sent away from you, and then help me come closer to You according to Your ways and desires.”
If you are not a Christian, then please visit www.peacewithGod.net for more information today.
For the rest of us, what should we expect after repenting?
I can honestly say I’ve never regretted obeying God and what he puts on my heart. I can also say I have regretted waiting to act on it. Or as I’ve heard someone say before, “Delayed obedience is disobedience.”
Like the king of Nineveh, I cannot say what God will do, but I am sure angel rejoice too when God’s fully adopted children, us, repent.
This all starts with the speed of prayer. Darkness flees and fears the light, and even if it seems to have temporary victory, our strength is always in the Lord. May you be blessed to grow closer to God. (Romans 15:13).