Editor's note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Charles F. Stanley's book, Turning the Tide: Real Hope, Real Change (Howard Books, 2011).

The United States faces many crises, from financial troubles and escalating crime to corrupt leaders and families that are falling apart. If Christians don’t pray and act to help reverse the destructive tide that is sweeping across our nation, the tide may eventually sweep away the freedoms that American citizens now enjoy.

Here’s how you can help turn the national tide away from sin and toward God:

Pledge your allegiance to God first. Make your relationship with God your top priority in life, and develop a habit of seeking God’s guidance for your daily decisions – including the decisions you make about how to impact your government. Regularly confess and repent of your sins so that nothing blocks you from growing closer to God each day and recognizing His voice speaking to you. Place your confidence and hope for a better future in God and His purposes, rather than in fallible government officials and changing laws.

Pray for God’s guidance. Recognize that the problems facing our nation are all spiritual problems at their roots, even though on the surface they must just appear to be diplomatic, economic, etc. Keep in mind, too, that God knows how to solve the problems facing our nation much better than any one person does, since God’s perspective is not limited as human perspectives are, and God is the source of all wisdom. So pray regularly for the wisdom you need to figure out specifically what God wants you to say and do to help solve national problems.

Live faithfully so you can represent Jesus well and inspire people to grow closer to Him. The people you want to impact are watching you closely to see how you choose to live as a Christian, so do your best to be the kind of role model God wants you to be. Also, be sure to speak and act with both truth and love when trying to impact people. Take a stand on issues that you sense God calling you to address, but be sure to do so in a way that doesn’t disgrace Jesus’ name or hinder other people from developing saving relationships with Him. Keep in mind that the greatest way to fight unrighteousness is to point people toward the righteousness that they can gain only through relationships with Jesus Christ.

Study the past to learn from it. Read about the history of the United States, including the story of how it was founded on Christian principles. Notice how Americans have both failed and succeeded, and how those failures and success have related to how faithful they either have or haven’t been at various times. Ask God to teach you the lessons He wants you to learn from studying history. Pray for God to help you and all Americans return to His purposes and work to fulfill them.

Deal with financial problems. Help with financial problems such as debt and unemployment by getting your own finances in order (paying off debt, sticking to a budget, giving generously, etc.) and encouraging others to do the same. Become an advocate for wise financial management in the government, and hold government leaders accountable for their financial decisions.

Help bear people’s burdens without making them dependent. Reach out to people in need with compassion and be willing to help them, but do so in ways that empower them to live independently rather than becoming dependent on you or others to meet all of their needs for them. Help people in need learn the skills and work ethic they need to support themselves once they get out of their current crisis.

Exercise your freedoms of religion, speech, and assembly. Use the freedoms you have as an American to make your voice heard, saying “no” to what is wrong and “yes” to what is right. Don’t let opportunities to take a stand against immorality pass you by – but when you protest a problem, be sure to also point people toward a solution. Also, be sure to relate to people out of love, rather than anger. People who disagree with you will receive your message much better if you present it in a loving way than if you alienate them with anger, and they’ll be drawn to Jesus in the process.