[This appeared first at LifeChurchNC.com]
September 9, 2016
This Sunday, September 11th, we commemorate the 15-year anniversary of the most tragic terrorist attack and loss of life on American soil. The ripple-effects left from this horrific event in our history can leave so many of us feeling as if it were just a short time ago. The memories are vivid and remain troubling to ponder.
Everyone who was alive and old enough to remember that day 15 years ago has their own 9/11 story. While you reflect on yours, let me share with you mine. I was attending a staff planning retreat with the first church I was employed with. One of the guys received a call, which may be the only actual detail of that day I can’t clearly remember. Our pastor immediately turned the TV on, and there it was. Black smoke rising from the upper-half of one of the World Trade Center towers. And then the unthinkable that confirmed the details and the motives behind what was going on like a nail being embedded into a block of wood with one swift strike, with a second plane flying directly into the middle of the second tower.
Like most people that day, I was left with this wrenching pain in my gut, short of breath, with my mind racing with considerations of what to do. It’s probably best described as a feeling of helplessness. I remember our staff making the decision, like most churches, to simply open the doors of our building for prayer and to give people a space to process. There were rich conversations that came from this time, as so many people were suddenly confronted with their vulnerability to attack and the fragility of our lives.
Of course, I’ll never forget watching the broadcast from the National Cathedral, where Billy Graham offered words of hope and encouragement, and in a moment of desperation in our nation, seized the opportunity to share the Gospel openly, boldly and freely. Reverend Graham shared these words found in 2 Chronicles 7:14:
…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 I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Over the years, I have heard so many Christians, especially Christian leaders, who criticized Billy Graham for using this Scripture out of it’s context. I personally believe such criticisms have been offered by people who are far too smart for their own good, and who probably couldn’t tell you the first thing about 2 Chronicles 7 in the first place. However, it was fitting, and contextually spot-on in light of where our nation found itself – at the beginning of a rebuilding process, which is also where Israel found itself during the time of King Solomon.
The passage, and the aftermath of the events of 9/11, called our nation to a place of desperate prayer and helplessness before our Creator. Although I would never long for those events to repeat themselves, I do long for a day when we can experience the paradoxical sweetness of such desperation again.
We are entering a season where I want to call us as a church to desperate prayer. Not dutiful prayer offered for the sake of feeling better about ourselves, but the kind of prayer where our hearts cry out together before God in desperation, driven out of our deep awareness of the Gospel and its implications in our own lives, and the hope it represents for the world around us. You will be hearing more about this in the coming weeks.
Let’s not wait for circumstances to make us desperate. That’s the reactive approach. Let’s be proactive by humbling ourselves before God now and find healing in Him today so that we can be part of bringing His healing to a world that is desperately in need of it, now.
Will you join our leaders and our staff as we enter this season of desperate prayer together?