Father, we come to You to pray for our nation, the United States of America.
How You have blessed us through the years, Lord! We rightly sing, “America, America, God shed His grace on thee.” Yet we see trouble in our culture today. We see the breakdown of the family, crippling addictions, and random acts of horrific violence.
Lord, we need Your help in America. In recent days, we have done our best to remove Your Word and Your counsel from our courtrooms, classrooms, and culture. It seems, as President Lincoln once said, that we have “forgotten God.” But Lord, You have not forgotten us! You can bless and help and revive our country again.
Scripture tells us that “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). Lord, in Your mercy, we ask that You would exalt our country again. We have had a number of great awakenings in America. We have experienced times of refreshing, and revivals that changed not only the spiritual but also the moral landscape. As the psalmist said, “Will You not revive us again, so that Your people may rejoice in You?” (Psalm 85:6).
That is our prayer for America today, Lord. Send a mighty spiritual awakening that will turn the hearts of men and women, boys and girls, back to you. You have told us if we will humble ourselves and pray, and seek Your face and turn from our wicked ways, that You will forgive our sins and heal our land (2 Chronicles7:14).
Forgive us today, Lord, and heal this troubled land that we love so much.
We ask all of this in the name of Jesus Christ.
Assaults. Bank robberies. Profanity. Women fearing for their safety. Who would have thought that the late 1700’s looked like this in the very young United States. Change was on the horizon and its source was as surprising as the moral demise of the young nation. J. Edwin Orr continues:
Then, suddenly, at the turn of the century, the nation made a spiritual about-face that affected every level of society–from the frontiers to the college campuses. The beginning of this dramatic change can be traced to Hampden Sydney College in Virginia. In 1787, with the moral climate there deteriorating rapidly, five non-Christian students decided to hold a prayer meeting to ask for God’s help. They locked themselves in a room, for fear of the other students, and kept their voices down so they would not be caught. However, the other students discovered them and tried to break down the door.
The president rebuked them saying, “You don’t mind cheating, you, don’t mind stealing from rooms, you don’t mind the lying and the profanity you get on this campus, but you object to a prayer meeting. Well, I do not!” He then knocked on the door and said authoritatively, “This is the president of the college speaking. Will you please come out?” The students unlocked the door and came out not knowing what to expect. President Smith said, “Gentlemen, come to my study, we’ll pray there together.” This prayer meeting marked the beginning of American campus revivals during the Second Great Awakening of the 1790s and early 1800s. Not only did half the students at Hampden Sydney College turn to Christ as a result, but the revival also spread to local churches and to other schools, having similar effects.
Who would shave thought that a much needed revival for a nation faltering early in its history would have come from college students? What about James Madison or Thomas Jefferson? God used unknown college students to bring a wave of revival that affected an entire nation.
In college after college, students formed similar Christian fellowships. At Harvard, Bowdoin, Brown, Dartmouth, Middlebury, Williams, and Andover, students began to meet and pray. The students at Brown formed the College Praying Society which met in a private room “for fear of disturbance from the impenitent.” In December 1802, at Harvard, seven students formed the Saturday Evening Religious Society, which also met secretly. At Yale, president Timothv Dwight regularly preached apologetical messages in chapel, hitting the relativistic philosophy of the day head-on with such talks as “Are the New Testament Documents Reliable?” As a result of the Christians’ prayer and Dwight’s powerful presentations, one third of Yale’s student body accepted Christ in 1802.
I am convinced that America’s hope will walk across the stage this weekend…not across the political stage next fall. Yes, we need a godly president. We need God’s man or woman to lead this country. However, both Great Awakenings in the United States have found their roots in revival among college students.
Will you be that student? What will happen on your campus this fall?
To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. (1 Corinthians 9:22-23 ESV)
This week hundreds of students will graduate from McDowell High School–hundreds of thousands from schools across the United States. What could happen if the thousands of Christian students graduating this week showed up on college campuses this fall with an agenda: to rock that campus for Christ. In order to better understand this, let’s step back in time to 1790. J. Edwin Orr, longtime professor at Fuller Seminary, shares this:
In 1790 America had won its independence, but it had lost something as well. In the wake of the Revolutionary War, French infidelity, deism, and the generally unsettled condition of society had driven the moral and spiritual climate of the colonies to an all-time low. Drunkenness was epidemic; profanity was of the most shocking kind; bank robberies were a daily occurrence; and far the first time in the history of the American settlement women were afraid to go out at night for fear of being assaulted.
Surprised! Colleges were seedbeds of apostasy and debauchery. Orr continues:
A poll taken at Harvard revealed not one believer in the whole student body. Conditions on campus had degenerated to the point that all but five at Princeton were part of the “filthy speech” movement of that day. While students there developed the art of obscene conversation, at Williams College they held a mock communion, and at Dartmouth students put on an “anti-church” play. In New Jersey the radical leader of the deist students led a mob to the Raritan Valley Presbyterian Church where they burned the Bible in a public bonfire. Christians were so few on the average campus and were so intimidated by the non-Christians that they met in secret. They even kept their minutes in code so no one could find out about their clandestine fellowship.
America seemed to be on a hopeless trajectory toward devastation when 1790 happened. Tomorrow we will talk about how a group of students impacted an entire country. Wow!