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FIRST-PERSON: In challenging times

EULESS, Texas (BP)–Challenging times require resolve and courage. But I believe that challenging times also require deep and passionate prayer.

I recently read of the first two characteristics, namely resolve and courage, in England in World War II. By 1940, France faced an uncertain future because Hitler’s forces had gained momentum and power. Due to this rise in Nazi power, England began to withdraw its forces from continental Europe.

England’s roughly 330,000 troops escaped the continent on small privately owned boats to arrive safely back on their own shores.

Their troops safe, the country was relieved and excited that such an escape from Hitler’s forces was a success. Britain was enthused about the escape and confident in their land.

But Prime Minister Winston Churchill, in a speech to the House of Commons on June 4, 1940, boldly declared, “Wars are not won by evacuations!” He delivered an address that moved all. He inspired and encouraged his countrymen to resolve and courage.

He concluded this now famous speech by exclaiming, “We shall not flag nor fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France. We shall fight on the seas and oceans.

“We shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air; we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches; we shall fight on the landing grounds.

“We shall fight in the fields and in the streets; we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

No one can question the necessity of steel-willed resolve and courage in challenging times. A strong, inner fortitude. A deep dedication. A sense of purpose.

I hear about the importance of resolve and courage among Christians all the time. And I agree. But the Scriptures remind us that what is needed, what we must have, is prayer.

The Bible tells us that a new era emerged in Israel’s history during King Solomon’s reign.

It was in this era that the people faced the challenge of a new king, growth pains and generally challenging times.

However, the Solomonic rule culminated in the building of the temple and represented a crucial moment in Israel’s history. How would God’s people respond at this hinge in Israel’s history? What did God require of His people at this moment?

This is what God said to Israel at that moment: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

God commanded prayer for Solomon and for Israel. God’s Word is sharper than a sword and it should cut our hearts today. At “hinge of history” moments in the life of a country, God’s people must pray.

The Bible teaches us this: If we are not on our knees in challenging times, we will not see the face of God. There is no compromise here.

Many Christians wonder why prayer is so important. I cannot express the truth of prayer more clearly. Prayer is essential for growth, guidance and God’s presence in our lives.

Now as we turn to the challenging times in our nation, we certainly need resolve. We certainly need courage. But we as Christians must be on our knees seeking the face of God.

Too often, I fear that Christians are quick to point our fingers at the “wicked” and the “proud” in our cultures.

But quicker than the finger-pointing, Christians should be quickened to kneel before the presence of Almighty God and ask for forgiveness, healing and repentance.

Without prayer, all that we do will ultimately stand as ineffective.

Wholeness cannot come solely through education or university enlightenment.

Healing cannot come solely through interdisciplinary dialogue or multicultural exchange. Forgiveness will not come solely through international summits and peace talks.

Forgiveness, healing, wholeness and peace will only come when the people of God get serious about prayer.
For more resources from Claude Thomas, pastor of First Baptist Church in Euless, Texas, visit www.LifePoints.org.

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  • Claude Thomas