“At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord” – Genesis 4:26
Years ago in a partially finished room of the musty old basement of our home, I created a place where I could get away and study. One Saturday evening I pulled away to my moldy retreat being overwhelmed with the burden to pray. The church I was leading was faced with overwhelming circumstances and desperately needed God’s intervention. I knew that in myself I could not produce what they needed, but I knew Who could. I was at the end of myself and sermons were no longer producing the fruit we needed. I (we) needed more. At that time, I prostrated myself on the cold, damp concrete floor and called on the name of the Lord.
What drives people to a life of prayer? Usually, when life spirals out of control and the need(s) at hand is bigger than our ability to meet it, we pray. When we can’t manage our circumstances and life is filled with more battle than beauty, we seek the aid of God. Someone has correctly asserted, “There are no atheists on the battlefield.” So true!
The Genesis 4 account marks the first time people began to pray and seek the God of heaven. The question on the table is: What drove them there? What marked that time as opposed to other times when they did not feel the need to call upon the Lord? Genesis 4 recounts the rise of jealousy, hatred and bitterness taking over the human race. The fruit of Adam and Eve’s sin is evident as men took justice into their own hands and began murdering their fellow man. There was a flood of anger among men. Sin was introduced in Genesis 3 and the fruits of it came to bear in Genesis 4. Reaping the fruit of their own sin, men were pressed to call on the name of the Lord. That time was a hard time.
“What,” I ask myself, “will cause Christians to call on the name of the Lord today? When will the prayer meeting (which sounds so old school and archaic, and rarely exists in the American church today) be filled with people passionately seeking God’s heart? When will calling on the name of the Lord be as important as listening to the sermons of men?” History records how fervent prayer preceded a fervent church. Most Christians today know little to nothing of this precedent, and the lack of prayer reveals it. Likewise, the straying condition of this nation, I believe, is the fruit of a prayerless church.
However, when the world gets out of control, similar to that described in Genesis 4, it can serve to propel people to call on the name of the Lord. At that time, the most difficult time known to humanity, according to the Genesis account, men called on God. In difficulty, prayer becomes the norm and intercession is no longer limited to people we consider weird, deep, or serious believers. It becomes the way of life for all true believers.
Yesterday, I received an email from a Ugandan pastor and he reflected on the prayer life of his congregation. I was convicted to my bones! Maybe, you will be too. He writes:
We fast and pray as many times as we need to. We have a prayer group that has prayer and fasting three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This is routine for us. Sometimes we do more, like this week, the whole church will fast and pray from Wednesday to Saturday, except for the ministers who will have a dry fast * for three days. So the ministers will fast for five days. For us prayer and fasting is as real as eating food.
*Note: A dry fast means no water or food for three days!
America is ripe for ruin. This is no longer the cry of Bible thumping preachers; it is common journalism reported from our government agencies. Likewise, while the crowds attending mega churches rival the population of small cities, the collective righteousness in the church-at-large is not potent enough to influence a single city in our nation. Gratefully, there are a few, albeit very few, exceptions to this. In our culture, evil is good and good is evil. On our watch the nation perishes.
I know. It’s an acidic message that sets our teeth on edge. With rolled eyes I hear someone declare “Another Doomsday-er!” But not so fast! Allow me to offer an additional note that will hopefully bring a harmonic tone to an otherwise sour sound.We’re also poised for revival. History has recorded that the most spectacular life is birthed from a grave rather than a nursery. While there are numerous Biblical and modern examples, Jesus Christ stands as our most perfect model. At the most unlikely time, under the most dismal circumstances, the stone rolled away. And so it can be at this time, if, and this is THE condition, people begin to call upon the name of the Lord.The moving of God upon His church or a nation is always preceded, and this without variance, by a praying people.
As it was in Joseph’s day, all that is meant for evil can arise for our good, pressing us to press into Him. It is time to be a people of prayer.