A few weeks ago I received an invitation to join some old friends, people I’ve known for years, at a dinner in Washington. I didn’t feel I had the stamina to make the trip, so Franklin went in my place.
He gave the opening prayer. After dinner a nationally respected opinion researcher, a pollster, walked over and said, “Franklin, this should be a year of great harvest. This really is a perfect time to show people the path to real hope.” He explained that he constantly monitors what Americans are thinking. ”I can tell you that anxiety is extraordinarily high right now among Americans. Fear is crowding out hope in so many people’s lives. People are anxious about everything, especially about the future.”
You and I simply need to look around us to know this is true. I feel a deep burden for so many Americans who live with no lasting hope.
We can help them find it.
Start with prayer—my prayers and your prayers. As Christians, we often pray for the sick, for each other, for the nation, and many regularly pray for “the lost,” but we should also pray by name for specific lost people.
In the familiar parable Jesus told about the lost sheep (see Luke 15), the shepherd did not go out to see if he could find just any stray sheep he might come across. He went searching for a sheep, a particular sheep. Pray that way, for specific lost people.
We may pray for a person to find God, but Jesus said it the other way around—He said that He came “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10, NIV). Jesus does the seeking, and the Holy Spirit opens a person’s heart. That’s what we should be praying for. The first convert to Christ in Europe, that we know about, was a businesswoman in Ephesus named Lydia, a dealer in fine fabric. The Bible says God “opened her heart to respond to the things spoken” (Acts 16:14, NASB). There is no other way to get an unsaved person to respond. It took me years to understand this. We may pray for the preaching and pray for someone to turn to God, but the preaching will have little effect and the person will not make a decision to turn without the Holy Spirit.
When we pray urgently and faithfully by name for lost people we truly care about, asking God to reach them, God works—often in unique and unexpected ways—to open hearts to Himself.
If you are praying in this way, not once or twice, but persistently, for people you know who need Jesus Christ in their lives, you are already participating in the first key step of My Hope, a nationwide outreach BGEA has launched in partnership with churches across our land.
The goal is to share the love and hope of the Gospel with people in every corner of America, in every neighborhood possible, during 2013. The outreach will culminate in November when Christians from all over the country—hopefully including you—invite some of those on their prayer list to join them in watching a message I am preparing as part of a special nationwide My Hope TV program. Over the next few weeks you can watch an example of a My Hope evangelistic broadcast on many cable channels.
I pray God will call you to be part of this outreach. America is a large country filled with people who need Jesus Christ, and the task is enormous. We ask for both your prayers and your gifts for the My Hope project.
Only the power of the Gospel can change a heart or a nation. Will you join me, beginning today, to pray for our nation by praying for specific people you know, asking God to seek them and draw them to Himself?
P.S. For a good part of my adult life, I made it my personal practice to read five psalms and one chapter of Proverbs each day. My friend and colleague George Wilson, who managed our BGEA headquarters office for many years, put together a unique Scripture devotional book based on this pattern. We’ve recently updated the book, and when you send a gift to BGEA this month, we would like to send Words of Wisdom as our thank-you.