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.
Saturday as 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 considering the recent release of a powerful movie on prayer, 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 have had similar impressions this week. He is clearly calling us to stand in the gap for our country. He may be calling you to do the same for your country.
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!
Jesus gave His disciples clear instructions on how to pray. He told them to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We can never go wrong praying the will of God, but how do we know His will? We start is His Word. As we grow in the place of intercession, He will place specific prayers on our hearts, and all of them will be confirmed within His Word.
After prayer and conversation with my beloved friend, I read from 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].” (Emphasis mine)
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 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 nation. Will you petition God to save your nation?
Will you join me today, dear reader, in intercession for my nation, America? His will is that we be a city set on a hill, a light in the darkness, a place of refuge for a lost and dying world. God is merciful but He cannot grant a stay of execution if His conditions are not met.
All Scripture quotations taken from The Amplified Bible.
Tags: prayer, intercession, mercy, America, repentance, War Room