This week’s radio commentary:
This Thursday, May 5, is the National Day of Prayer: a congressionally declared and presidentially proclaimed day for the United States to join in prayer for our country. It is a historical practice for Americans for our leaders to call us to prayer for the nation. In 1775, with the future of the colonies hanging in the balance, the Continental Congress called the colonies to prayer. In times of war and times of peace, our presidents and leaders have called us to prayer.
It is right and appropriate that we continue that tradition, enshrined as it is now in U.S. statute, a statute recently upheld in federal Appellate Court against a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality.
This past Sunday night, as the country watched the president announce the death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of U.S. military forces, we remembered the national call to prayer on 9/11, nearly ten years ago. Although there is a deep and wide divide in this country over the role of religion in policy and the public square, when tragedy strikes we, as a nation, turn to prayer.
For followers of Christ, this is not a trite, hopeless or contrived response. It was our response on Sunday evening when we realized the very real threat that possible retaliation for bin Laden’s death poses for our country, for our leaders and for our military personnel stationed throughout the world. A call to prayer is incredibly serious and our response requires sober sincerity and unshakeable faith in God’s promises.
The National Day of Prayer proclamation is not a requirement; it does not force any American to participate but it does encourage everyone to participate. It is truly humbling for a mighty nation to publicly acknowledge its need for the providence and the intervention of God, the great King.
We are a country, and a state, in need. Consider these Wisconsin statistics.
The divorce ratio in Wisconsin is up to 58% percent in 2010. Almost 98% of all divorces in Wisconsin in 2010 affected minor children; that means that 16,897 Wisconsin children under age eighteen were affected by a divorce last year. The number of abortions reported for Wisconsin residents was up to 8,299 in 2009—the first increase in abortions since 2003. One out of every four children in the U.S. is being raised by a single parent. In 2009, over 700 deaths in Wisconsin were suicides.
These are significant and troubling statistics: significant because the numbers are on the increase and troubling because each number represents a real person who is negatively, even fatally, affected by the circumstances cited in the statistics.
We face a $3.6 billion deficit in our state budget unless we make drastic cuts to spending and services. Our state has been racked by months of angry protests and family members, friends and fellow church members have vehemently disagreed over the Governor’s budget repair bill.
We can protest, we can rally, we can vote, we can work on campaigns, we can run for office, we can support or oppose legislation but unless God heals our land, those figures I just quoted are going to continue to increase. I’m not implying that prayer is a magic bullet because it isn’t. But it is a wonderful privilege that God gives us as His children to call upon Him and to intercede for our land.
We are ambassadors of Christ to a world that is broken and hurting. Each one of our communities is filled with hurt, with the real-life implications of the statistics I cited and so much more. He came to heal the sick, to give hope to the hopeless and to set the captives free.
So this Thursday, May 5, I trust you will set aside time to pray, to pray for your communities, for your church, for our state and for our country, to pray with faith and conviction. We live in Wisconsin right now. That means this is our mission field. These are the people whose lives need the saving grace of the Gospel of Christ.
As children of the New Covenant, we remember God’s call to prayer to the people of Israel in the Old Covenant, “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.” Amen and amen!
This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the Prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”