When a tragedy like yesterday’s bombing at the Boston Marathon strikes our nation one of the first reactions is to pray. One of the top trending hashtags on Twitter was #PrayForBoston. Facebook and Twitter accounts went up within minutes of the breaking news (some fake, some genuine) that were calling for prayer for Boston. The President echoed these sentiments, saying, “the America people will say a prayer for Boston tonight, and Michelle and I send our deepest thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims in this senseless loss.” But I have to wonder, does God even hear those prayers.
The prophet Isaiah told the people of Israel:
Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened,
That is cannot save;
Nor His ear heavy,
That it cannot hear.
But your iniquities have separated you from you God;
Your sins have hidden his face from you
So that He will not hear.
For your hands are defiled with blood,
And your fingers with iniquity;
Your lips have spoken lies,
Your tongue has muttered perversity.
No one calls for justice,
Nor does any plead for truth.
They trust in empty words and speak lies;
They conceive evil and bring forth iniquity.
Their feet run to evil,
And they make haste to shed innocent blood;
Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity;
Wasting and destruction are in the paths.
The way of peace they have not known,
And there is no justice in their ways;
They have made themselves crooked paths;
Whoever takes that way shall not know peace (Isaiah 59:1-4; 7-9, NKJV).
As I read these words of the Old Testament prophet, I can’t help but think of the moral state of our nation. Our hands are defiled with the blood of over 3,000 babies every day. Our lips speak the lies by calling good evil, and evil good. Our tongues are muttering perversities by promoting sexually immorality. No one is calling for genuine justice, we’ve actually perverted justice by calling theft “justice”. No one is pleading for truth, rather we are perpetuating lies. There are empty words spoken every day and evil thoughts that lead to sin on a regular basis.
It’s really no wonder that we have been at war for over a decade now. As we continue to ignore God’s Word and travel down crooked paths leading us farther and farther away from God, we will not know peace. Neither will God hear our cries for deliverance.
I wonder if we even believe in this God to whom we are praying? James said that we are to “ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:6-7). Hebrews 11:6 says that “[W]ithout faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” If we do not believe in Him, He cannot be pleased with us, and if we do not seek Him, He will not reward us.
In the words of our President, “We are no longer a Christian nation.” This accepts the fact that we once were a Christian nation. If we are no longer, that necessarily implies that at one point we were. But if we have now rejected God, why would God accept us?
After the nation of Judah rejected Yahweh and went after other gods they were punished and taken into Babylonian captivity for 70 years. While they were in captivity they prayed and fasted. After their return home, the prophet Zechariah records the words of God:
“Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests: ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me—for Me? When you eat and when you drink, do you not eat and drink for yourselves? Should you not have obeyed the words which the Lord proclaimed through the former prophets when Jerusalem and the cities around it were inhabited and prosperous, and the South and the Lowland were inhabited?’” (Zechariah 7:5-7).
So, when we pray and mourn for Boston, are we really praying and mourning for God, or are we praying and mourning to make ourselves feel better? Should we not have obeyed the words of the Lord before these tragedies started happening?
If we would have listened to the preachers of righteousness during the sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s, would we have to pray for a cure for HIV/AIDS and other STDs? If we did not have immoral war policies, would 9/11 have happened and would we need to pray for our soldiers? If our tax policies were not a violation of the 8th Commandment (Thou shalt not steal), would we have this economic crises. If we had not undermined the institution of marriage with no-fault divorce, would our drug, alcohol, and crime problems be as severe? Could it be that obedience to the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God would result in blessings rather than cursings?
We were once a Christian nation. We did at one time honor God and His Law. And there were blessings that followed. It was when we, like Israel, began to forget God and disregard His Law that the problems began.
“But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the Lord of hosts. Therefore it happened, that just as He proclaimed and they would not hear, so they called out and I would not listen,” says the Lord of hosts. “But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations which they had not known. Thus the land became desolate after them, so that no one passed through or returned; for they made the pleasant land desolate” (Zech 7:11-14).
It’s time we start heeding, and stop shrugging our shoulders at God. We need to open our ears and hear, soften our hearts and listen to the words of God.
The good news is that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” If we start listening to God, God will start listening to us. But it has to start with repentance.
So, next time you send out a tweet with the #PrayForBoston hashtag, add a #RepentForAmerica hashtag. If we will humble ourselves, and pray, and seek God’s face, and turn from our wicked ways, then God will hear from heaven, and will forgive our sin and heal our land. Let it so be, Lord Jesus.