Summary: When a nation is under God's judgment, pray as Daniel did with confidence in God's Word; pray confessing our nation's sins; and pray calling on God's mercy.
In 1887, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years prior:
“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship…
“The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations have always progressed through the following sequence:
From bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence;
From dependence back into bondage.”
When I think about our own country in light of that sequence, I fear for us as a nation. With over 50% of the U.S. population on some kind of government assistance, we have become a nation that is characterized by dependence. It can’t be very long before our nation is plunged back into bondage, especially now that our loose fiscal policy has paralyzed our country’s leaders in Washington D.C.
Politically and economically, we are failing as a nation. But not only that, as a nation, we are failing morally, as well.
Way back in 1987, a prominent Catholic intellectual, political theorist, and professor at Fordham University, Dr. Francis Canavan, described what he saw happening in America morally. He wrote:
“Liberal democracy in a pluralistic society is an endless but fruitless search for the lowest common denominator that can serve as society's moral bond. The more pluralistic the sociey, however, the more difficult it is to find a common denominator. Let us try to explain the problem crudely and oversimply, but not entirely inaccurately.
“We did away with state churches in this country so that all the Protestants could feel at home in it. We de-Protestantized the country so that Catholics, too, could feel at home in it. We have dechristianized the country to make Jews feel welcome, and then dereligionized it so that atheists and agnostics may feel equally welcome.
“Now we are demoralizing the country so that deviants from accepted moral norms will not feel excluded. The lowest common denominator, we have discovered, is like the horizon, always approached but never reached.” (Francis Canavan, S.J., in Catholic Eye, Nov. 18, 1987; Christianity Today, Vol. 32, no. 3; www.PreachingToday.com)
Now, if that was true in 1986, how much more so today? Our country has become even more de-moralized in the 21st Century, and there seems to be no stopping it. I would say with Thomas Jefferson, “Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.”
But can we blame a society made up of fallen human beings. After all, that’s what sinners do. They sin!
John Stott, a British theologian and pastor, put it this way when he was speaking to an American audience some time ago. He said…
“You know what your own country is like. I'm a visitor, and I wouldn't presume to speak about America. But I know what Great Britain is like. I know something about the growing dishonesty, corruption, immorality, violence, pornography, the diminishing respect for human life, and the increase in abortion.
“Whose fault is it? Let me put it like this: if the house is dark at night, there is no sense in blaming the house. That's what happens when the sun goes down. The question to ask is, ‘Where is the light?’
“If meat goes bad, there is no sense in blaming the meat. That is what happens when the bacteria are allowed to breed unchecked. The question to ask is, ‘Where is the salt?’
If society becomes corrupt like a dark night or stinking fish, there's no sense in blaming society. That's what happens when fallen human society is left to itself and human evil is unrestrained and unchecked. The question to ask is ‘Where is the church?’ (John Stott, “Christians: Salt and Light,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 109; www.PreachingToday.com)
Where IS the church? And what can the church do to stem the tide of immorality and the judgment that is already upon us? We tried political power in the 70’s and the 80’s, but that didn’t last very long as we lost our own children to the spirit of the age.
Maybe it’s time that we as a church turn back to God again. It’s time for us as a church to get on our knees before the only One who can deliver us from ourselves. But how do you pray for a nation under judgment? How do you pray for a nation that has turned its back on God? How do you pray for a nation that is reaping the consequences of its own sin?