Devotionals

A Nation in Turmoil: How Will We Respond?

The book of Joel consists of only three chapters, yet it was written as a wake-up call to a nation in crisis. Joel pleaded for his nation to gather before God in a great sacred assembly. Their time of great crisis and need called for a corporate response—a response of corporate repentance and consecration before God.

Today, we are living in very challenging, critical and volatile times. Every day the news is filled with more human tragedy or disaster. Crises are escalating at an unprecedented rate. As the body of Christ, we must respond. We cannot afford to hit our snooze buttons any longer while ignoring the sounding warnings and alarms around us. In early 2011, Luis and Jill Cataldo from the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri, David and Cindy Lane of The American Renewal Project, and others came to my office in Houston to discuss the importance of calling for a Joel 2 solemn assembly for our nation.

At first I was reluctant. I did not want another prayer event that ended up being more about preachers pontificating and politicians giving speeches. We agreed that we needed a call to prayer for a nation in crisis and that only one name was to be exalted and lifted up, Jesus!

On Aug. 6, 2011, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry trumpeted what became known as The Response: A call to prayer for a nation in crisis that was held at Reliant Stadium in Houston. More than 44,000 people gathered for prayer, worship and fasting.

Logos and egos were checked at the door in a posture of humility and holiness. It was amazing to see a multigenerational, multiethnic, multi-denominational gathering, all seeking and calling upon the name of the Lord. Many questioned the intent and purpose of The Response; including so-called political experts, atheists, gay rights advocates and even some Christian Pharisees. Each had their assumptions. I've learned that assumption can be the lowest form of knowledge.

While on a local television network with a professor from a well-known university and the president of an atheist organization, the professor charged that the event would be a white Tea-Party gathering, and that Gov. Perry was going to use The Response as an opportunity to announce his candidacy for president. To set things straight, I assured them that they were going to be surprised by The Response and invited them to come and see for themselves. I also shared that when the church gathers in proper alignment and posture before the Lord, even those who oppose us will benefit.

Now fast-forward three years. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, recognizing the need for prayer for America, invited the nation to pray at The Response Louisiana on Jan. 24 in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center at Louisiana State University. Jindal grew up a Hindu and became a Christian in his teens as he attended a nondenominational campus ministry church at LSU. He not only trumpeted The Response Louisiana: A call to prayer for a nation in crisis, but he sent letters to the other 49 governors to call for prayer as well.

In one of his other letters, he said, "Our nation is faced with fatherless homes, an epidemic of drugs and crime in our cities, a saturation of pornography, abortion, racism—Jesus Christ, Son of God and the Lord of Life, is America's only hope. We need spiritual transformation. There is good news, Scripture reminds us that as we come before the Lord in a posture of humility, honesty and repentance, then the Lord will hear from heaven, forgive and heal our land."

Again some planned to protest and even tried to prevent us from having the prayer gathering. Again I responded to media questions about the stiff opposition, sharing that the event was not about any of their perceived issues.

I simply stated that The Response was about the church and Christians taking our rightful knee posture in humility, personal and corporate repentance, and consecration.

In fact, the right to protest, as well as the liberties and freedom of speech we have in our nation, are largely due to the foundations established on Christian faith and beliefs. Those rights are not granted in many other nations, especially under other religions.

During The Response Louisiana, we divided the day into 5 segments:

  • Repentance (personal and corporate)
  • Reconciliation
  • Revival
  • Reformation
  • Refreshing
  • Some of the areas we prayed for were:
  • The shedding of innocent blood
  • Justice—including human trafficking and criminal justice
  • Healing the racial divide
  • Widows and single parents
  • Orphans and adoption
  • Honor and generational blessings
  • Family
  • Government—local, state, national, judicial and the president
  • Education
  • Church awakening
  • Peace of Jerusalem and peace in the Middle East

The Response is not about a protest, program or a movement in itself. It is a posture. It's about the church humbling herself and crying out before God. Our private posture affects our public influence. Our private choices have public consequences. There is a battle for the soul of our nation. I believe the heart of the nation should be the church. We, the church, need a corporate heart awakening if we are to see the soul of our nation healed—if we are going to see another great awakening and revival.

How will we respond? Humility, repentance and consecration before God must be the answer. The Response is part of what God is doing, creating a culture of prayer as a lifestyle, appealing to heaven for His presence on behalf of the nation and our generation.

Currently other governors and governmental leaders are inquiring about having The Response (theresponseusa.com) in their states. The next one is set for June 13 in South Carolina.

Pockets of true revival are breaking out across America. Want to know more about the next great move of God? Click here to see Jennifer LeClaire's new book, featuring Dutch Sheets, Reinhard Bonnke, Jonathan Cahn, Billy Graham and others.


Doug Stringer is an internationally known speaker, the founder of Somebody Cares and Turning Point Ministries International and author of several books, including Somebody Cares: A Guide to Living Out Your Faith. For more information, visit dougstringer.com or somebodycares.org.

Devotionals

Oprah Winfrey's Deceptive Prayer Practices Leading Many Astray

Remember when Oprah Winfrey created a firestorm among believers by suggesting that Jesus is not the only way? Apparently, her drift away from the Way, the Truth and the Life started decades ago when her Baptist pastor referred to God as a jealous God (see Ex. 20:4-5).

"I looked around and thought, 'Why would God be jealous? What does that even mean?' And I'm looking at the people in the church, and everybody's up, shouting," Winfrey told O magazine readers of the experience, which happened when she was in her 20s. "And I started wondering how many of these people—including myself—would be led to do whatever this preacher said. That's when I started exploring taking God out of the box, out of the pew."

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I agree that we don't need to do whatever a preacher says or put God in a box, but Oprah took God into the New Age with her Oprah's Lifeclass: the Tour in 2012 in which she partnered with New Age guru Deepak Chopra on a broadcast about "Spiritual Solutions." It was against that backdrop that she claimed she was a Christian, which set off another huge debate about the entertainment and media icon's faith.

"I am not talking about religion. I am a Christian. That is my faith," Winfrey told her Radio City Music Hall audience. "I'm not asking you to be a Christian. If you want to be one I can show you how. But it is not required. I have respect for all faiths. All faiths. But what I'm talking about is not faith or religion. I'm talking about spirituality."

New Age Meditation

This "spirituality" made its way to Stanford University's Memorial Church last week. Oprah led over 1,000 members of Stanford in some sort of New Age meditation exercise.

"Close your eyes for a moment, will you please, and breathe with me," she told them. "And if you will, put your thumb to your middle finger and gather your other fingers around, and let's feel the vibration and pulse of your personal energy as you take three deep breaths with me."

Oprah went on to share with them a secret to prayer, or at least her version of prayer.

"Open your heart and quietly to yourself say the only prayer that's ever needed: Thank you, thank you, thank you," she said. "You're still here. You get another chance this day to do better and be better, another chance to become more of who you were created and what you're created to fulfill. Thank you. Amen."

In fact, Winfrey said she started a gratitude journal in the 1980s and suggested her listeners take up the practice.

"Gratitude journaling has become a spiritual practice that leads to a more enhanced and meaningful life, and you can start it today," she said. "I guarantee if you did it for a week you would see a difference, because every day—and I'll do it when I go home—I write down five things that I am grateful for, or that brought me joy or opened my heart space."

A New Age Take on Prayer

I'm all for gratitude journals. I'm all for prayers of thanksgiving. But this New Age take on prayer is simply not biblical. "Thank you, thank you, thank you" is not the only prayer that's ever needed. This is so far from the truth that I have to call it what it is: deception. The Bible commands us to pray for very specific things beyond thanks.

Consider 1 Timothy 2:1-4: "Therefore I exhort first of all that you make supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings for everyone, for kings and for all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and honesty, for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."

What about Psalm 122:6, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem."

Oh, and let's not forget the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13: "Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come; Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen."

I appreciate the encouragement that Oprah has given many over the years, but her alignment with New Agers like Chopra, the graphic depiction of sexual perversion on her television network, and her open door for heretics like Rob Bell to trash the Bible on her program trouble me. These are not the moves of a woman who knows how to pray and tap into the wisdom of God.

My Prayer for Oprah

Oprah claims to be a Christian and I will not judge her salvation, but clearly she's wielding her great influence in a way that's conflicting with Christian values and biblical teachings. The Bible tells us to give thanks when we pray, but "thank you, thank you, thank you" is not "the only prayer that's ever needed."

My prayer for Oprah comes out of Ephesians 1:17-21: "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give Oprah the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, that the eyes of her understanding may be enlightened, that she may know what is the hope of His calling and what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance among the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward those who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He performed in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principalities, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come." Amen.

Jennifer LeClaire is senior editor of Charisma. She is also director of Awakening House of Prayer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and author of several books, including The Next Great Move of God: An Appeal to Heaven for Spiritual AwakeningMornings With the Holy Spirit, Listening Daily to the Still, Small Voice of God; The Making of a Prophet and Satan's Deadly Trio: Defeating the Deceptions of Jezebel, Religion and Witchcraft. You can visit her website here. You can also join Jennifer on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

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