by Brian Pickering, National Coordinator, Australian Prayer Network
To call the nation to repentance, so that God may heal our land.
“… Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labour of your hands.”
At the time of the last great drought in 2007, a National Solemn Assembly was called by the Australian Prayer Network, and held in our national capital, Canberra, attended by several thousand people. Prior to the holding of the Solemn Assembly, some 30,000 people had participated in 40 days of seeking the face of God, asking Him why the rain had been withheld from our nation.
The scriptural response to those 40 days was overwhelming, with the passage in Haggai referred to above being clearly heard from the participants as the word of the Lord to our nation. That scripture became the central focus of the National Solemn Assembly. In addition to that word however, a list of sins mentioned in the scriptures received during the 40 days highlighted the six national (and personal) sins that God asked us to repent of during the Assembly.
- Lack of Intimacy in our relationship with God
- Sexual immorality
- Shedding of innocent blood
- Broken Covenants
Within six months of the National Solemn Assembly, the drought had broken and the seasons returned to normal.
However, unlike what happened in Haggai 1:12-14 where the people feared the Lord and began to work on the restoration of the house of the Lord, after the Solemn Assembly the people of Australia gave thanks to God for the rain and returned to what they had been doing before the drought. Twelve years down the track, we again face exactly the same situation.
So again we find ourselves confronting a call to repent, to stop doing what we have been doing and to start doing what God has clearly instructed us to do. 2 Chronicles 7:13 and 14 gives us a clear understanding of how to go about that process. When there is no rain we are to (1) humble ourselves and pray, (2) seek His face, and (3) turn from our wicked ways (not just confess our sin, but repent and turn away from that sin). His promise then is (4) to hear our cry, (5) forgive our sin, (6) and heal our land (send the rain we so desperately need).
Father, forgive us when we ignore You when You speak to us so clearly from Your word. We are undeserving of Your mercy, but we plead that You will give us another chance. Your word says that if we humble ourselves and pray, seek Your face and turn from our wicked ways, that Your ears will be attentive to our cry and that You will forgive our sin and heal our land.
Father, this month we again turn to You in humility, asking that You will forgive our arrogance and sin in so many areas of our personal and national life. We confess that the sins of which You have reminded us of are rampant in our land so deeply that we do not even know how to repent. Please give us a spirit of repentance, so that what we cannot do ourselves we will be able to do in Your strength.
How desperately we need the rain, but how much more desperately do we need You. Help us to recognise that and take every step we can towards You, so that our pain can be released and the rain on which our life depends will once again water our parched land.