NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–There’s no disputing that most Americans “believe” in God. Studies by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life consistently reveal over two-thirds of Americans are “absolutely certain” there is a God.
The problem, Richard Land says, is that people often live as though there is no transcendent moral authority. In considering the state of the culture, Land observes that “believing” in God apparently doesn’t equate to a person’s wholesale adoption of God’s precepts into his or her life.
“Instead of influencing the culture, it appears on most fronts the culture is influencing us. Too often, instead of being ‘salt’ and ‘light,’ we are being salted and lit by the secular culture around us,” said Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, focusing on a theme he often raises when preaching.
“Our churches are in need of a truly spiritual revival, and our nation is in need of a great movement of God’s Spirit,” Land said, noting that this need was the impetus behind the development of the 40/40 Prayer Vigil for Spiritual Revival and National Renewal, which debuted in 2008 in partnership with the North American Mission Board.
“To change lives we must first be changed,” Land said. “We must pray for and experience spiritual regeneration, then recognize and accept our responsibilities as Christians to be ‘salt’ and ‘light’ in the culture,” he said, referencing Matthew 5:13-16.
A great movement of the Holy Spirit will not happen without sustained prayer from God’s people, Land added.
The 40/40 Prayer Vigil is designed for people to pray for 40 days, between Sept. 20 and the morning of Oct. 29, and then pray for 40 hours between 4 p.m. on Oct. 29 and 8 a.m. on Oct. 31. A downloadable prayer guide and more information is available at www.4040prayer.com. The 40/40 prayer guide is written so that it can be used by an individual, a small group or the focus of an entire church body.
The vigil focuses on personal and church revival and national renewal, Land said, noting participants are encouraged to heed the truths of 1 Timothy 2 and pray for those in positions of authority in the government.
A pitched spiritual battle rages across the country and around the world, Land said. “Such warfare must be met first of all with spiritual weapons,” he said. “We must pray for a great outpouring of God’s Spirit on our homes, our churches and ourselves that our moral foundation might be recovered.”
Additional tools to encourage participation in the prayer vigil, including an automatic e-mail delivery of each day’s prayer outline, are expected to come online soon, Land said. The 40/40 website also includes a prayer guide translated into Spanish.
The Scriptures are at the heart of this call to prayer, Land said, noting that with each day’s prayer points there is a listing of key Bible verses.
“God draws close to those who call out to Him,” Land said, paraphrasing Psalm 145:18.
“It is God’s way or no way. And right now our nation and many of our families are heading in every way but after God,” Land said.
“When our perspective is right, when we are on our knees, when we are obedient, God will use us — His people — for His purposes in our families, our churches and our land,” he said, adding, “That is my prayer for the 40/40 Prayer Vigil–that believers will be renewed and those who don’t know Christ will find him. Our country will never be the same when that happens.”
Dwayne Hastings is a vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.