A Call to Pray
About the Guest
Dr. Ronnie Floyd reminds listeners that a movement of God is always preceded by prayer. Floyd believes God is calling His church to pray for unity in this country.
A Call to Pray
Bob: On this National Day of Prayer, it’s good for us as parents to ask ourselves the question, “Are we raising children who know how to pray?” Here’s the chairman of the National Day of Prayer, Ronnie Floyd.
Ronnie: How in the world are children going to learn how to pray if they don’t see it modeled with their parents? It doesn’t have to be some long season of prayer; it could be a brief prayer by one of the members of the family. Speaking in relationship to the National Day of Prayer, how in the world are children ever going to learn how to pray for their nation if they don’t ever see mother and dad and the pastors of their local church cry out to God for the future of the country that we all live in?
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, May 3rd. Our host is Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.
Today is a day for all us to pull back and think more seriously about the burdens that are on our hearts and how we express those burdens to the God of the universe. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition.
As I said, today is the National Day of Prayer, and Dennis, we didn’t realize when our movie was scheduled to be—
Dennis: —on top of the National Day of Prayer!
Bob: —to be shown in theaters May 1st and May 3rd that the final showing would be happening on the National Day of Prayer, but it’s not coincidental. I think this is one of the things we need to be praying for today, for parents and for the next generation.
Dennis: And for our nation’s families. The “Like Arrows” movie is being shown in over 800 theaters across the country, and already tens of thousands of folks have been out to see it, and we hope that tens of thousands more, if not hundreds of thousands, will be out to see it.
We have a good friend here with us on FamilyLife Today who has been a champion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ—well, all the way back until he was 20 years old. You started preaching when you were just a young man.
Ronnie: Very young.
Dennis: Who tapped you on the shoulder at 20 to preach?
Ronnie: A desperate church!
Dennis: Well, some of our listeners, especially in northwest Arkansas and throughout the Southern Baptist convention, recognize the voice of Dr. Ronnie Floyd, who is the senior pastor of Cross Church since 1986. He was the president of the Southern Baptist convention, author of more than 20 books, and was tapped on the shoulder to lead the National Day of Prayer.
If there’s a verse that really is the hallmark verse of this day of prayer that goes all the way back to 1952, when it was first commemorated, it’s Second Chronicles chapter seven, verse 14—
—“If my people, who are called by my name, humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Ronnie, we need the results of this verse today, don’t we, as never before.
Ronnie: In our generation, we are in desperate, desperate need for the next great move of God. What we know, biblically and historically, is that no great move of God ever occurs without the extraordinary prayer of God’s people. One of the things that really motivated me to be able to embrace this leadership role while I’m still a local church pastor is to do anything I can to forward the prayer movement across America, because I so believe that’s our greatest need.
Bob: I have to confess to you, on past days of prayer I’ve been aware but pretty casual about what the day was and what the need was. This year it feels very different for me from any day of prayer in my lifetime. I’ll tell you, I came across a quote from Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who said, “It is the man who is burdened; he is the one who prays.” I thought, “Perhaps the reason I’ve been casual in praying is because I haven’t been burdened.”
But you look at what’s going on in our country, in our culture. I am burdened as never before for the spiritual condition of our nation, the spiritual condition of our churches, and that’s why I think my heart is moved toward deeper levels of prayer than it’s been in years past.
Ronnie: Well, this is one of the times that the cultural backdrop, which is extremely dark and gloomy, is really a friend that’s calling us to prayer.
Ronnie: And, while we are, many days, in spiritual despair over our country or we’re broken over something that really happens from a school shooting to some ridiculous thing that goes on by the nature of evil and sin in the lives of people, we’re reminded constantly, “Hey, this thing’s out of control, and this is one time we can’t fix it! Even all of us who think we can fix everything.” But government can’t fix it.
Ronnie: Politics can’t heal it. There’s never been a time where America’s needed God more than we need God today.
Dennis: And Ronnie, I believe this ought to be the church’s finest hour.
Dennis: Because, who else can step into the chaos?
Why haven’t we stepped into this? First of all, back to Bob’s point, is it because we’ve not been burdened enough?
Ronnie: I think it is. I think it is, Dennis. I’m really convinced that most churches believe in prayer, but it’s one thing to believe in prayer; it’s another thing to practice prayer. You know, one of the first places we need prayer to return to would be in the many local churches all across America.
I see that happening, and I’m thankful for that, but this is a day when, prayerfully, we can remind everyone of the importance and the need. I mean, we know that according to Scripture that God is always faithful to become active in situations when His people call out to Him.
Dennis: I just want to add one thing to the church being a house of prayer. I think families ought to be homes of prayer—
Ronnie: I agree totally.
Dennis: —leading their kids in praying for something other than our own selfish needs.
In preparing for this broadcast, I was reading my Bible, and I was thinking, “My prayers have become way too selfish.” We ought to be, as families, asking God to raise up the leadership and the spiritual renewal to call our country back to Jesus Christ.
Ronnie: And if comes one at a time, and if comes family at a time, and it comes one church at a time. This is a time when the church needs to stand, it does have its moment of what we would classify as its finest hour.
What we need to understand is that, while no one is calling for unity in this country—it’s rare, because of such despair in the nation over so many tragedies that have happened—but, back last fall, when we began to think about the National Day of Prayer in the year 2018—
—and I began to really pray through what would be the heart of God, I really believed, in my heart, that God wanted us to establish that we need to make this the day where we pray for American and we pray about unity in our country, unity in the church, which obviously, how in the world can a divided church, you know, lead a divided nation? We can’t lead them to unity, but we need to do what the Scripture says over in Ephesians four, verse three, which is our thematic verse, and that is, “…making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
Bob: And there are a lot of people who are looking and saying, “I don’t know how unity is possible in this culture. I turn on the news, I turn on the radio, I go to church, and there’s division right and left; polarization, vilification…”
How do we fulfill Ephesians 4:3 in our day, when everybody’s going, “No, you’re the problem!” “No, you’re the problem. Your way of thinking’s wrong.” What do we do?
Ronnie: Well, one thing about it that I’ve learned from Scripture is that unity is supernatural. It’s something only God can do. I’m not trying to put my head in the sand, I’m not trying to ignore the realities of everything you just said; I get it, I know it, I live in the same world we all do, and there’s no way, though, that man can do that. They can’t agree on anything. I mean, and now it’s so polarized and so divided that it’s only going to be God.
But it has to be the church, one Christian at a time, that says, “You know what? I’m going to make every effort—that means above and beyond—as far as it depends on me.” It puts the urgency on each one of you, it puts it on me. What can I do to keep the unity, to preserve the unity, to fight for the unity—
—and not let Satan and evil and people tear it apart, because that’s not God’s will?
Bob: Don’t you think humility is a precondition to unity?
Ronnie: Absolutely. Look at chapter four, verse two, because that’s exactly what it means, in the book of Ephesians. It calls us to that “whole spirit of humility,” and how that spirit of humility is the key to bringing about the spirit of unity.
Dennis: And, at a point, that humility forces us to maybe walk across the aisle and ask someone to forgive us for an attitude, for maybe some anger or bitterness that we may hold against another believer. I knew a couple of churches that were located in the same city, and they just were at war with each other. And finally the two pastors called a prayer meeting, and sure enough, they got together in one of the churches, in the same church, and the one church sat on the right and the other church all sat on the left.
Their arms were folded—
Bob: Ready to pray imprecatory psalms against each other!
Dennis: —kind of scowling, and the pastors got up and said, “This is not right. We who have been forgiven need to forgive each other. Now, the other pastor and I, we’re going to go out and have coffee until you guys work it out.”
They literally walked out of the church, and those two congregations sat there, until one lone person got up, walked down the aisle across to another pew, and sat down by someone and began to whisper in their ear and talk to them. And then another person came from the other side to the other, and back and forth it went. It’s my understanding there was a genuine healing that took place.
So, the unity you’re talking about—and I’m glad you said what you said, because there are people—
—who call for unity but don’t have the power to pull unity off, and if anybody ought to have the power to pull unity off it ought to be a follower of Jesus Christ who has the Holy Spirit.
Ronnie: Absolutely, and the church should be personifying that. What’s so tragic is one of the reasons we see so much lack of and a diminishing of the Great Commission in so many of our churches in reaching the world for Christ is because they’re torn over things that really don’t matter.
The bottom line is that certainly, if we’re a part of a local church that would claim to have some deep belief in the Scripture, that if we believe the Bible is the Word of God and Jesus is the only way to salvation and that the Gospel is the greatest need of the world—I mean, I’m not minimizing the rest. They’re all important in people’s minds and hearts and they are important. But if we can believe those things, we can come together, and we have to find a way to come together.
Bob: When we sat down two years ago with Alex and Stephen Kendrick to do the work on this movie that’s going to be in theaters tonight, we started storyboarding, outlining the story we wanted to tell. We had no way of recognizing that the pivotal moment in this movie is a moment when a dad says to his kids, you know, “We need to be in the Bible every day, and we need to be praying together as a family every day.” It was a wakeup call for him, it became a wakeup call for the whole family, and it turned the course of that family.
Dennis: And comment on this, Bob, because one of the kids in the movie turns to Dad and says, “How are we going to do that?” And you remember what the dad says, speaking of humility—
Bob: Yes; the dad says, “You know, I’m not exactly sure.”
The child says, “I read my Bible, but there are a lot of words I don’t understand.”
The dad laughs and says, “There are a lot of words I don’t understand either, but I bet we can figure this out together,” and he tells the kids, “Go get your Bibles, and we’ll do this.”
I think to myself, how many families are spending time making Jesus and the Gospel the centerpiece of what’s going on in their home, versus having it be a compartment in their family, where “if things get out of whack, we’ll go over to that compartment and see if we can fix things,” or, “we’ll pay our dues here.”
We need a radical reformation in families, because that’s the foundation of a society. That’s going to change churches; that’s going to change neighborhoods and cultures.
Ronnie: Yes, and what can families do? They want to know, “Okay, so how do I get started? What do I do?” Just read a chapter a day to your children, if nothing else, out of the Scripture. Pray together. It doesn’t have to be some long season of prayer, unless there’s a real need. It could be a brief prayer by one of the members of the family. How in the world are children going to learn how to pray if they don’t see that model with their parents? Speaking in relation to the National Day of Prayer, how in the world are children ever going to learn how to pray for their nation—
—if they don’t ever see mother and dad and the pastors of their local church cry out to God for the future of the country that we all live in?
Bob: We have, on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com, a video clip. This is from our new series, called FamilyLife’s Art of Parenting™, and it’s a number of people talking about their experiences with family devotions, what’s worked, what hasn’t. Kevin DeYoung, who’s a pastor in North Carolina, talks about trying to do this with his family, and the kids are all over the place, they’re not paying attention to anything—
Dennis: —was that filmed in our dining room?
Bob: It could have been, right?
Bob: But it also gives a template, a blueprint. So you have Stephen Kendrick saying, “Here’s what you have to do. Just do these simple things.” And even if you do it regularly and you think, “The kids aren’t catching any of this,” they’re catching more than you realize.
Dennis: Oh, yes they are.
Bob: And you’re making a statement as a mom and a dad about what really matters in your home, aren’t you?
Ronnie: Well, it’s more caught than taught.
It’s a culture that you build in your home, to know, whether you’re going through good times or bad times, you’re going to pray.
You know, the thing that I go back to…when our children were at home, and both of our kids love the Lord, they’re active in their churches, very committed—you know, there was not a day that my children ever went to school that we didn’t pray over our children. Either my wife and I did individually, or we did together, but it would have been rare that we did not do it together.
Now, did we just go through all this long rigmarole that so many families have this straw person in their mind, this make-believe that it has to be this heavy. It doesn’t have to be that heavy! If I were sending my children into every school in this nation today, I promise I’d be calling out to God.
Bob: It might have been a 20-second or a 30-second prayer, right?
Ronnie: Absolutely! Sure!
Bob: Two sentences, but it set the course for the day.
Dennis: Ronnie, I can’t be sitting here with you as the president of the National Day of Prayer without asking you, would you give our listeners three things to pray for on this day? We have people who are starting out their day at 7:30 in the morning on the beltway in Washington, D.C., and we go all the way across the country to L.A., San Francisco, Seattle, touching the heartland in between. There are going to be people who won’t be able to reschedule something for noon today, but they can tonight at dinner, or this evening, afterward, pray for the needs of the National Day of Prayer. Would you give some instruction about that?
Ronnie: Well, one of the things I would really call people to pray for is just the place of leadership in our country, to pray for the leaders of our nation, whether it be local, state, as well as national; you know, whether it be the city council, whether it be the school board—
—whether it be all the way to the legislators in the state area or whether it be at Congress and the President and the Cabinet and the Vice-President. I mean, that’s a great place to start. You say, “Well, what do I pray for?” Pray for God’s leadership, God’s protection, God’s sovereign ability to turn the heart of the king, just like He did in the book of Daniel.
Dennis: And pray for their souls.
Dennis: Every one of those people you talked about are spiritual creatures made in the image of God, and they have souls!
Bob: On both sides of the aisle, right?
Ronnie: That’s right.
Dennis: Exactly, exactly! And God loves them, and we need to be praying for their spiritual wellbeing.
Ronnie: Absolutely, because if they’re going to lead our country we need to be healthy, as much as possible, spiritually.
Bob: And this is a biblical mandate.
Bob: We’re instructed in Scripture, “Pray for your leaders and those who are in authority over you.” So we have a responsibility to do this.
Ronnie: Absolutely, and it doesn’t matter what you think of this person or that person. It’s not whether you agree with them or not.
Dennis: I have to ask you, though—
Dennis: You undoubtedly have some political figure, on one side or the other or maybe both sides, that you may have a problem with. How do you work that through emotionally so that spiritually you can ask God to meet them in their lives on a daily basis?
Ronnie: That’s a great question, and the thing I’ve learned all through the years is that if I will pray for them regularly along the way, even when they are 180 degrees away from me, is that God gives me a unique compassion for where they are and for them, a lot more than their position.
Sometimes we get so angry about an attitude or a position we let it really creep in and lose the real heartbeat of the text. These are people, made in the image of God, that need to know Christ, that need to have the power of God upon their lives.
So, we need that to happen in our nation.
Bob: That’s one thing, praying for our leaders. Dennis asked for three, so we have to get to the other two.
Ronnie: Sure. Well, I think another thing would be to think about what you feel is one of the greatest areas of division in the nation today. Let’s say it would be the whole issue of ethnicities walking together. You know, it’s a challenge for people to come together in that regard, and the place, though, that is the greatest diversity movement in the history of the world is the church of Jesus Christ!
Ronnie: I mean, Jesus died for all people; He died in our place, and we have the privilege, regardless of the color of our skin, to come together, and we need to ask God to bring our country together in regard to the ethnicities of our country.
Bob: I love Ephesians two, where it says, “He is our peace.”
Ronnie: That’s right.
Bob: “He has torn down the dividing wall,” and that’s what we need to be praying, that God would tear down the dividing wall between the races today.
Ronnie: Absolutely; no question. I think when you think about a third thing, I think that security in this nation is a huge issue. You look into the matters of some of the biggest tense moments over the last several years; it’s been over national security, not only externally, but internally. And in relationship to that, with the desperate need that we’re in in the country, I would call upon every Christian on the National Day of Prayer, let’s pray that God would create a revival in the church and an awakening in the nation! I just have an urgency in my heart that that has to be called out to God in as many gatherings as possible.
Dennis: And that’s not just for the president of the National Day of Prayer; that ought to be the burden of every follower of Jesus Christ.
I just want to lay a mandate on every listener. I don’t know where you’re going to have lunch or dinner today—
—but in one of those meals pull out a Bible on your listening device and read Second Chronicles chapter seven, verse 14, out loud: “If my people, who are called by my name, humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” May it be so.
Bob: And on this National Day of Prayer we hope all of our listeners are crying out to God that the burdens, whether they’re personal or burdens for your community or for our nation, that we are taking those burdens to God in prayer.
I also want to mention, we hope our listeners will join us tonight. I wish this could kind of be a prayer meeting—you know, if we could have set this up differently we might have turned this into a prayer meeting tonight—
—but in theaters all across the country the final showing of our movie, “Like Arrows,” happens tonight at seven o’ clock in more than 800 theaters. This is a movie about parenting, and there are still tickets available. You can go online at LikeArrowsmovie.com to order tickets, or we have a link on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com. Or call, if you have any questions, 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word “TODAY.”
And keep in mind, our new video series for parents, which is called FamilyLife’s Art of Parenting™, is now available. There’s an online course, and there’s a kit available that has DVDs and workbooks so that a small group or a local church can go through this material. You can have parenting classes at church.
Find out more about FamilyLife’s Art of Parenting™ video series when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com, and again, come on out and join us at the theaters tonight for the “Like Arrows” movie. It starts at seven; there’s a pre-show that starts at 6:30, so if you can get there early, get there for the pre-show.
Alex and Stephen Kendrick join us on the pre-show, along with Dennis and Barbara and me, so we’d love to see you tonight for “Like Arrows.”
And we hope you can join us back again tomorrow; we’ll talk more about this new video series we’ve created, FamilyLife’s Art of Parenting™, and we’ll take you inside the content, talk about what your priorities as a parent need to be. Hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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