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Repentance Sunday


Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck gave, perhaps, the most fundamental reason that, as God’s people, we should prioritize prayer: not just because we are Christian but because we are humanBavinck said:

Prayer is fitting for us because God is God, because of all his attributes: faithfulness, grace, omnipotence, goodness, and so on. Furthermore, we also depend on him for everything; having nothing from ourselves we need to receive everything from him. Prayer is therefore deeply grounded in human nature…a necessity for its being …

The idea here is of course the dependence creatures have, by definition, on their Creator. And, another aspect of our creatureliness spoken of in Scripture is not only that we exist, but when and where we exist. God has, according to Paul’s teaching found in Acts 17, placed each and every one of us in particular times and particular places. The chaos of the cultural moment is all the reason we need to pray that we could possibly need.

Each Wednesday since early August, the Colson Center has hosted a National Prayer Webinar, via Zoom and Facebook Live, to pray for our country and the Church. Thousands have joined us.

When Focus on the Family President Jim Daly led our prayer time a few weeks ago, he said, “When it gets rough [in times] like this, it’s time for Christians to show the confidence we have in what we believe. And as the body of Christ, we must bring true hope to the world – using the best “weapons” we could ever have – the fruits of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” The kind that only comes through prayer.

Since we’ve started to pray together, I’ve sensed with many others that God most wants to reform, not the culture, but His church. He is graciously stirring His Church to action, especially by calling His people to repentance.

This Sunday, September 27, hundreds of churches throughout America will be participating in a time dedicated to prayer and repentance. What’s being called “Repentance Sunday” has been organized and endorsed by the leaders from more than 50 churches and ministries. I know this is somewhat late notice, but repentance is always a good thing to do, isn’t it? You can still join in.

This Sunday is Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, among the most sacred days of the year in the Jewish calendar. For the church, it’s an opportunity to practice what Revelation 2 and 3 require, a return to our first love, seeking forgiveness for personal and corporate sins (by the way, that’s a theme that has come up repeatedly in our Wednesday prayer times). Scripture is clear that the best next step for a nation experiencing division and calamity can only be taken by the Church. The first step for us is repentance, something we often talk about but, outside of liturgical services, rarely actually do.

To learn more about Repentance Sunday and request resources, just come to BreakPoint.org and we’ll link you to them. And, please, join us for prayer each Wednesday between now and the day after the election. Again, you can register at BreakPoint.org. This week, we will be led by Pastor Bob Fu, founder of China Aid.

Though as Bavinck said, prayer reflects our creatureliness, it is also the means by which we participate in God’s ongoing work in the world. As American theologian and philosopher Johnathan Edwards said, “so [it] is God’s will, through His wonderful grace, that the prayers of his saints should be one great and principal means of carrying on the designs of Christ’s kingdom in the world.”

What an astounding thought. We so often say things like, “but other than pray, what can we do?” Praying is doing something.

Prayer changes our hearts, aligning us with God’s will and love. Repentance is offered to us, Scripture says, out of God’s kindness so that realignment is possible. As Peter Kreeft said, “For those on the edge of the moral abyss, the best way forward is backward.”  Prayerful repentance is that opportunity to turn around and realign.

Gaby Lyons who’s been the driving force organizing Repentance Day told many of us recently, “Something is surely afoot. God is on the move.” I’ve sensed that too.  Please, come to BreakPoint.org to find out more about Repentance Sunday and to register for our weekly National Prayer Webinar.

Publication date: September 24, 2020

Photo courtesy: ©GettyImages/StockPhotosArt

John Stonestreet is President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and radio host of BreakPoint, a daily national radio program providing thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of CrosswalkHeadlines.

BreakPoint is a program of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. BreakPoint commentaries offer incisive content people can't find anywhere else; content that cuts through the fog of relativism and the news cycle with truth and compassion. Founded by Chuck Colson (1931 – 2012) in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends. Today, you can get it in written and a variety of audio formats: on the web, the radio, or your favorite podcast app on the go.

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