For several days the term “stay of execution” flashed in my mind. Though somewhat familiar with the term, any time I have a strong impression in my spirit, whether it is a phrase or single word, I like to look up the definition to make sure I have a full understanding. According to Wikipedia:
“A stay of execution is a court order to temporarily suspend the execution of a court judgment or other court order. The word ‘execution’ does not necessarily mean the death penalty; it refers to the imposition of whatever judgment is being stayed. A stay can be granted automatically by operation of law or conventionally, when the parties in a civil or criminal case agree that no execution shall occur for a certain period. If a party appeals a decision, any judgment issued by the original court may be stayed until the appeal is resolved.”
Last year, when I gathered together with hundreds of other individuals at my church for corporate prayer, I kept hearing the song Holy Visitation. The lyrics for the bridge are “I was made for war; I was made for battle, Lord,” a very timely phrase coinciding with the release of the movie War Room. Another part of the song is from the book of Joel. It says, “We lie here weeping between porch and altar…”
After corporate prayer, a friend and I were discussing how God was directing us in intercession. Though her heart was heavy for the many travesties in our world, she didn’t pray from her emotions. Rather, she sought God to find what was on His heart. She was directed to petition Him for America “between the porch and the altar.” It’s no coincidence that she and I had similar impressions a few months ago. He is clearly calling us to stand in the gap for our country, and my guess is He’s asking you to do the same.
My heart aches when I hear others belittle the power of prayer. The Word of God is clear; prayer is our most effective weapon when we pray according to His will. I’m convinced many have lost the desire to pray or are frustrated by the seeming lack of results simply because they are praying from their soul (mind, will, and emotions).
Our prayers shouldn’t be consumed with what we are feeling, thinking, or desiring. Obviously, He cares when we are hurting and He welcomes our cries of desperation. The Psalms are filled with the pain and joy of David. However, intercession moves beyond our own heart and into the heart of God. It is in intercession that we become the man/woman God refers to in the book of Ezekiel: “And I sought a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none” (Ezekiel 22:30). God’s hand was outstretched in mercy, but He found not even one intercessor to stand in the gap, so He consumed the land with His wrath!
As I consider that passage, I wonder if God is searching America now, looking for intercessors that will stand in the gap and seek Him. Does He find them, or does He only find tireless rhetoric enflamed by the political spirit? Every day I am barraged by media outlets pushing their agendas and thousands of people claiming a particular candidate is the answer to the many problems our country faces.
The book of Joel, chapter 2, verse 12 and 13 says: “Therefore also now, says the Lord, turn and keep on coming to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning [until every hindrance is removed and the broken fellowship is restored]. Rend your hearts and not your garments and return to the Lord, your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in loving-kindness; and He revokes His sentence of evil [when His conditions are met].”
It’s fascinating to me that the last statement in Joel 2:13 essentially describes a stay of execution. A stay of execution is sometimes granted when the guilty party agrees to certain conditions; in our case, God’s hand of mercy will be extended if we meet His conditions. We are to repent of our sinful lifestyles—our idolatry, greed, and immorality—and return to our first love and obey His commandments.
We’ve heard 2 Chronicles 7:14 repeatedly in the last few years, but it never hurts to hear it again: “If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.”
God is not a man that He should lie (Numbers 23:19). If we will meet the conditions outlined in 2 Chronicles 7:14, He will respond with healing! God is not waiting for the world to get their act together. He is waiting for the church to be the Church. He is waiting for true repentance—a heartfelt sorrow that results in a change of behavior.
Repentance begins with me. It begins with you. Once we have repented individually, we can stand in the gap for our communities and beyond. In the last presidential election, millions of self-proclaimed Christians did not vote. Some might say, “Why bother, the Word tells us in Romans 13:1 God appoints those in authority, right?” Ultimately, yes. But could it be that God bases His decision in part by the actions of His followers? He certainly did in the Old Testament.
When Israel demanded a king, God gave them one, even though it wasn’t in their best interest. I can’t help but believe if Christ-followers sought God for this country, God would answer with a leader like King David, instead of one like King Saul. Will you join me today, dear reader, in intercession for the USA? His will is for America to be a city set on a hill, a light in the darkness, a place of refuge for a lost and dying world. We must pray, then act according to His will.
God is merciful but He cannot grant a stay of execution if His conditions are not met.
By Lisa Jenkins-Moore
All Scripture quotations taken from The Amplified Bible.
To learn more about Lisa or follow her blog, visit LisaJenkinsMoore.com.