Something Could Happen July 16 on the National Mall that Changes Our Country Forever
[Editor’s Note: As perhaps one million Christians are expected to gather on the National Mall for a day of prayer and worship, will Jesus change everything? That’s their hope. In this blog post, David Bryant writes with anticipation of what may happen as he remembers another event in which Jesus changed everything.]
“The moment I stood up I started sneezing sod!”
That was the testimony of a respected Christian leader almost two decades ago after prostrating himself in the dirt on the grassy Mall in our nation’s capital.
He went on: “My face was pressed so tightly into the ground that the soil I breathed in kept me hacking for the next twenty-four hours! But I don’t care. It was a moment I will never forget. It was utterly life-changing for me in my relationship with Christ.”
He was talking about a spell of silence observed October 4, 1997, when an estimated 1.5 million men converged from every corner of our land onto that mammoth public field in DC.
Called “Stand in the Gap,” it was the first-ever gathering of its kind in Church history—six hours of concerted prayer for a national revival voiced by over a million men of every age, denomination, and ethnicity.
As it so happened, right in the middle of the event I invited that sea of faces, stretching back beyond the Washington monument, to lie prostrate on the ground for three minutes of absolute stillness.
I asked them to take the time to focus on and worship the living Christ, reminding them that in the fullness of his supremacy as God’s Son he alone was the ultimate answer to thousands of prayers that day and the ultimate hope for the future of our nation.
I want to tell you the story behind those three minutes and the on-going impact that resulted because something similar, with even greater possibilities, is scheduled less than a month from now.
July 16: Will Jesus Change Everything?
On July 16, 2016, another huge group is assembling on the National Mall for “Together 2016“–possibly a million strong, consisting primarily of a diverse group of Millennials and younger ages. The purpose of the event is (using their own words): “To stand up for Jesus,” believing “#Jesus changes everything,” and asking him to “reset our nation” spiritually.
We’re convening to seek God to grant America through his Son a gracious miracle of a new beginning morally and spiritually. Said another way, the day is about praying for the “Christ Awakening movement” I’ve been writing and talking about since before 1997.
Could “Together 2016” become the tipping point for such a movement? Could it be the hour when the Kingdom breaks through to change our nation forever?
To answer, I need to take you back to 1997 and the reason for those three minutes of silence.
“Please Throw Your Talk Away”
Sponsored initially by the extraordinary Promise Keepers men’s ministry, Stand in the Gap took six hours to weave together sessions of prayer with worship segments and brief talks interspersed to keep us moving in the same direction in our prayers. Having worked with PK throughout that decade, I was asked to be one of the speakers, toward the end of the second hour.
I had my message all ready to go. About twenty minutes before stepping onto the platform I met in a tent behind the stage with about sixty men and women who prayed over every speaker.
As they circled me and laid hands on me, beginning one by one to pray for my presentation, to my great surprise I began to cry. Actually, weep. No, actually sob. And I could not stop.
Inside my head I could hear myself saying, “Father, what are these tears all about? What are you trying to tell me?”
Eventually, as the others kept praying, it seemed the Holy Spirit gave me two answers.
The First Thing I Heard as I Wept
First he said, “Please throw your talk away.” I felt he was compelling me to do precisely what I did do twenty minutes later.
At the mike, broadcast over Jumbotrons scattered throughout the grounds, I laid aside the speech I had prepared and instead read to the men that matchless description of the Lord Jesus as John saw him in his ascended glory in Revelation 1.
I also read to them that when John saw Jesus in all of his glory he fell at his feet like a dead man—in this display of his supremacy Jesus took John’s breath away! (Read more about that event in Revelation from my previous blog.)
Then I closed my Bible and said to the multitude:
Men, we’ve been praying for two hours; we’ve got four more to go. But when all has been said, in the end we know that God’s redeeming and reigning Son, seated on the throne at his right hand as Head of the Church and “ruler of the Kings of the earth” (Revelation 1:5), is the singular answer to our cries and the only one able to raise our nation from the dead.
Therefore, I want to invite all of us, from Capitol Hill to beyond the Monument, to do what John did. Let’s prostrate ourselves before our Savior, in silence, like dead men, and simply do nothing . . . other than focus on him and worship him and honor him in whom and by whom all God’s promises are fulfilled. Let’s just listen to him who is in himself the one great hope for America.
And that’s precisely what everyone did.
Stretching for fifteen blocks of the National Mall, that multitude of men were flat out with their faces buried in the dirt—not one word spoken, not one sound heard, for three (what seemed like) very long minutes.
Look at What Happened Next!
Often I’m asked the question: Out of 40 years of Christian ministry what would be the highlight if you had to choose just one?
I have no trouble answering that question.
The most significant, most potent, most productive ministry I’ve ever had happened in those three minutes, when personally I did nothing—when all of us did nothing—but focus in absolute awe on the glory and greatness of Christ.
For you see, since that day I’ve lost count of the men who have come up to me in my travels to share what the Holy Spirit did for them in the silence—pastors who felt their ministries were restored to them; laymen who had life-changing encounters with Jesus; numbers who actually were born again during those moments (some of whom are leading Christian organizations today); drug addicts who were delivered; atheists who were converted.
Do you see? There were Christ Awakenings taking place all over the Mall that day while all of us did nothing except the one thing most needed: We exalted and exulted in God’s Son for all he is in his amazing majesty and spectacular supremacy.
The Second Thing I Heard as I Wept
But there’s one more part to this story.
And it brings us full circle to “Together 2016” and its potential in July.
In the prayer tent, as I wept uncontrollably, while intercessors surrounded me, the other thing I felt the Holy Spirit impress on me was this (a very simple but specific sentence):
David, what you are about to see before your very eyes
is merely a picture of things to come.
As the October 4 program continued, over and over I pondered those words: Christians. On their faces. Before the King of kings. As a picture of things to come. What could it all mean?
It wasn’t long before things came clear to me. Let me paraphrase what I believe the Father was showing me:
David, one day, not long from now, believers on their faces being silent before my Son will become a way of life for my people. This will happen as Christ Awakenings spread throughout the churches in this land. The manifest presence of my Son as Lord of all will saturate my people in such tangible ways that within their hearts they will remain, as it were, on their faces before him—listening to him; fully alive to him; wholly devoted to him; longing to know him and grow up in him; eager to serve him; prepared to share him near and far; giving him the supremacy in everything.
Looking Toward July 16
And that is the prime hope that shapes my prayers for July 16.
I pray there might be an actual moment that very day when, literally, everything stops—when speakers, musicians, singing, even prayers come to a total halt.
I pray there will be an opportunity for that crowd of Christians to get on their faces and prostrate themselves in perfect silence before the Lord Jesus Christ, the only Hope of our Nation—just to honor him, to hear him, to adore him as the Jesus who changes everything, the Jesus who must change his Church first of all.
There, before him like dead people, I pray we might experience the richest possible fulfillment of that earthly drama—as the Spirit of God, then and there, reintroduces a multitude of God’s people to God’s Son for ALL he is right now, and then sends us forth to spread that vision from coast to coast and beyond.
Should it be . . . could it be . . . will it be . . . must it be . . . the beginning of a profound “reset” that results in nothing less than a nationwide Christ Awakening movement?
How will you pray for that day between now and then?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David Bryant
Known as a proclaimer of Christ and Messenger of Hope, David Bryant is the founder and president of Proclaim Hope!, an outreach whose goal is to serve a nationwide Christ Awakening. David is the author of many books, including Christ Is ALL! Join in the Joyful Awakening to the Supremacy of God’s Son. David and Robyne have been serving Christ together for over 40 years. Their most important ministry, however, remains centered on their three adult children and their spouses, and their four grandchildren.