Joe Wright is retired now, but the former pastor of Central Christian Church in Wichita, Kan., made headlines on Jan. 23, 1996. He was asked to be the guest chaplain for the Kansas State House in Topeka. He prayed a prayer that was written by then pastor Bob Russell of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. According to an article in the Kansas City Star from January 24, 1996, his prayer stirred a bit of controversy. This prayer of repentance for our nation has a sharp bite to it, but prayers for repentance are usually not flowery words of praise or prose, but they do get God’s attention.
“Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, ‘Woe to those who call evil good,’ but that’s exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values. We confess that: We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it pluralism. We have worshipped other gods and called it multi-culturalism. We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it a choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem. We have abused power and called it political savvy. We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the airwaves with profanity and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.
Search us, O God, and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of Kansas, and who have been ordained by You, to govern this great state. Grant them Your wisdom to rule and may their decisions direct us to the center of Your will... Amen.”
Would God hear the prayers of millions of repentant people in our state and our nation? Would God respond to a person who prays a personal prayer of repentance? Would God hear the prayers of repentant churches?
If we would pray any prayers of repentance and turn from our ways to his, God most certainly would hear our prayers, heal our land and reveal his love to each one who would seek his presence. Let’s pray — Amen.
n The Rev. Scott Van Bibber is pastor of New Hope Church of the Nazarene. Sermon notes is a column by local religious leaders.