Christians, especially men, often lump prayer into the category of the intangibles and wield it as a last resort when confronted with difficult situations. Far too often it has to be a really difficult situation to merit a little humility to push us to our knees. It is amazing how we struggle with the concept of prayer. We think we are experiencing all that prayer has to offer with our token mealtime utterings or at the bedside blessing with our children as we quote lines from passed down traditions. Even in seminary, prayer is not a critical focus. We think too little of the most powerful resource in our arsenal. But we don’t do it intentionally. We are ignorant of the application and thirsty to experience the fullness of relationship with the Almighty. That is why I am so excited by The Front Line. It is a book I have spent nearly 4 years researching and writing and I am convinced that it will open eyes and transform the Christian perspective of this multi-dimensional conversation.
I mean no offense to the many authors who have written books on prayer over the years, but I often found that books addressing this subject had flowers on the cover, were bright colored and seemed to concentrate on the female demographic predominately. This always bothered me. Yes, it is true - women seem to “get” prayer more than men, thus the tendency, especially from many publishers is to focus on this core audience. However, I wanted to come at this a little differently. The Bible tells us that the devil is a roaring lion seeking to devour (1 Peter 5:8). He desires to kill and destroy – yet how often do we get up, get dressed, go about our day and fail to put on the full armor of God to protect ourselves and come to the defense of our family and friends through intercessory prayer? We don’t take the enemy seriously at all until he strikes home. C. S. Lewis writes, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.” I wanted to shake up our comfort zones and address what is really going out there. We have the power to change the course of history, through prayer, but we are so occupied by the tyranny of the urgent – often temporary things that have no eternal value – to unlock the mysteries of prayer to combat spiritual forces.
The National Day of Prayer is a tradition of solemn assembly that began in 1789. In fact, the President of the United States has called on Americans to pray over 137 times throughout our nation’s history. Woodrow Wilson said, “A nation that does not remember what is was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do.” The National Day of Prayer is just around the corner and America needs your prayers, now more than ever. We continue to face unabated moral decline, economic turmoil, military conflict in the Middle East, and the ever-increasing assaults against our religious liberty. Given these urgent concerns, it’s imperative that we remain on our knees in contrite supplication for the United States.
Throughout the six decades since Congress established an annual National Day of Prayer, untold millions of Americans have come together every year to express humble reliance upon the Almighty. Every year on the first Thursday of May, citizens gather stateside and at points around the globe to lift our nation and leaders before the Lord. In doing so, we pay tribute to the example set by our Founding Fathers and by presidents down through the years who have exhorted the American people to seek God’s help and deliverance during trying times. As Abraham Lincoln presided over a war-torn land, he called on his fellow citizens to take part in a day of fasting and prayer, making this statement: “…it is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history: that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord…” What a powerful reminder of the true source of our well-being.
The prayers of godly people in the United States are the strong thread that binds us together. Because we have been one nation under God for more than two centuries, we continue to enjoy the fruit of His blessings and the individual liberties we hold so dear. Godly people who know the value of earnest prayer are the backbone of our nation. May we be steadfast in our humble obedience to Him and boldly declare that we are one people united through His powerful name, indeed one nation, under God.
The need for prayer must be continually impressed in our communities and throughout our nation if we are to preserve the biblical heritage that has enabled America to become great. Given the troubling times facing our country, I remain convinced that heartfelt and persistent prayer has never been more crucial. It is only through the humble intercession of God’s people and His gracious response that we will see healing and revival. As culture continues to crumble by casting out truth for moral relativism (godlessness and lawlessness), we must realize that the Church is a stronghold in this world. We are lifting the standard on the battlefield, and we must stand firm. The challenge is that many in the church don’t know how to pray. They think they do, but in reality, they don’t understand the mountain moving power of prayer – a relationship so deep and pure with Almighty God that an audacious faith is unleashed with world transformational power. We are content with mediocrity in our walk with the Lord and thus depriving ourselves of the privilege of being a part of eternal and boundless impact. That is why I wrote this book with some of my esteemed colleagues for the purpose of opening eyes to the battle for the minds of men and how to be effective on the front line through prayer.
Every day is filled with challenges. If anyone says they have fully suppressed the sin nature within them, I suspect they are only fooling themselves. It is a constant struggle to resist temptation and to put our thoughts and actions into check every minute of every day. Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 9:27 that we must buffet our body because our natural tendency will be to do what we don’t want to do. Thus, I am constantly on my knees before God asking for forgiveness and the power of the Holy Spirit to use me to His glory despite myself. I am a bag of dust and water, but through Him, I can stand firm with the full armor of God (Ephesians 6). In my personal life, my wife has been battling cancer since 1997 – so 15 years of our 18 years of marriage. I have heard it all. Believe me. Just as Job was reprimanded by even his closest friends, we have received both criticism and support. We have been told that our prayer life wasn’t strong enough or that we weren’t eating correctly. I always listen and take it before the Lord, but what we learned through the journey was that our prayer became a deeper more intimate conversation with God. Rather than demanding of God – treating Him as a glorified genie in a bottle – we began to seek His will more earnestly. Eventually my prayer shifted to requesting of Him that He enable my wife and I to pass a legacy of faith to our children – to give them the firm foundation at home my wife and I never had. You see, we came from broken homes and our desire was that He would make a way for us to reverse the trends in our family heritage. He has answered that prayer. We are beating the cancer and God has blessed our family in ways words cannot fully express.