I really didn’t have a lot to do with the church during my childhood. It was not something I was familiar with. But after I became a Christian at age 17, there was a very persistent guy on my high-school campus who made himself my friend. He walked up and told me that he noticed I had become a Christian. Then he said that he wanted to take me to church. I said, “I really don’t want to go to church. That’s OK.” But he wouldn’t take no for an answer.
I still remember walking into Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California. It was during the Jesus Movement, and the place was overflowing with young people. When I saw the place was full, I was relieved, because I thought we wouldn’t have to stay. So I said to my friend, “Well, there is no room in there.” But sure enough, someone in the front row saw me, recognized me from school and waved us over. So we ended up sitting in the front row. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I had a front-row seat to a genuine revival.
Then Pastor Chuck Smith walked out – a middle-aged bald man. That is the last thing I wanted. I thought, ‘He is like a teacher. This is going to be so boring!’ But then, as he opened up the Bible and began speaking, it made sense to me. It was relevant to me. And my heart began to change. Two years later, I found myself in the Southern California city of Riverside, planting a church myself.
Fast-forward 40 years, and now I am the old bald guy. But I am as committed to the mission of the church as I was on that day I first discovered how wonderful the church can be. And I believe that the hope for America is the church. Some might be thinking, “Now, Greg, wait. I thought you said the hope for America is a revival. Isn’t it really God?” Yes, it is. The hope is God – working through his church. And what is revival? It is Christians getting back to what they should have always been in the first place. It is Christians coming back to life. Here is what God has to say to a nation that wants to be healed:
“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” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV).
You know, true prayer is what happens when our will is aligned with God’s will. The objective of prayer is not to get God to do what we want Him to do, it’s to get us to do, what He wants us to do. And we can be assured that we pray to a God who does not turn a deaf ear to our prayers. In fact, He desires to communicate with us, and in this way. Listen, God hears the prayers of His people.
If we want to see our land healed, God says that it starts with his people. Christians need to live up to their name: Christ-followers. They need to be Christ-like. And if the church would be what it was meant to be, then it would change our country.
The 2016 theme for the National Day of Prayer, is Wake Up America. Isn’t that fitting? Man, if our country ever needed prayer, it’s right now. And this theme is based on Isaiah 58:1, which says, “Shout it a loud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet.” Indeed, as I said before, He is our hope. So I challenge you today, will you pray for America?
If you want to host, attend, or learn more about the National Day of Prayer, please visit nationaldayofprayer.org.
The NDP Task Force National Honorary Chairman, Greg Laurie, is the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, the featured speaker for Harvest Crusades, and the nationally-syndicated radio program, A New Beginning.
For more information about Pastor Greg, visit his personal homepage at www.greglaurie.com or his ministry website, www.harvest.org.