Five Ways to Make America REALLY Great
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Although many presidents, starting with George Washington, have called for days of fasting and prayer for America, David Bryant was in the room in 1988 when President Reagan signed the law establishing the first Thursday of every May as America’s official National Day of Prayer. Since then, the observance has accelerated among believers of all denominations. Over 40,000 prayer rallies will unfold from coast to coast tomorrow. In this blog, David reflects on the implications of these events for the future of America while considering 2017’s celebration theme: For Your Great Name’s Sake.]
Forty-seven years ago this coming May 4, as the young pastor of a campus-focused church, I found myself standing on the commons of Kent State University when suddenly students were killed and wounded by a barrage of Ohio National Guard bullets.
That one hour changed so much for our nation. It reset the course of a war and other international events. Above all, it bore witness to America’s deepening need for a God-given spiritual renovation.
A generation later, a radical, Christ-focused renewal remains the only hope for the reclamation of our nation—what I‘ve come to define as a nationwide Christ Awakening movement. But considering the impact that single campus tragedy had on America, what would be the impact of a sustained encounter with the glory of the living, reigning Christ in thousands of churches from coast to coast?
A Very Different Kind of May 4 Is Coming
Now, over four decades later, I face a different kind of May 4. I’ve flown into Washington, DC, to participate with the National Prayer Committee in the National Day of Prayer gatherings, which are linked with tens of thousands of similarly united prayer events in every state—in homes, in churches, at city halls, in open arenas, on campuses.
The theme of this year’s annual observance is “For Your Great Name’s Sake.” It is based on the prayer of Daniel 9. We know that making Jesus’ “Great Name” great throughout our land can bring about a longed-for spiritual transformation of our land. Tomorrow millions of prayers will ascend to seek God’s face for the Christ Awakening that the Kent State calamity in 1970 made clear we desperately needed then—and still need now even more.
We’ll Be Praying Among the Dead!
In DC, our official prayer rally will convene the evening of May 4 in Statuary Hall, located just off the Rotunda of the Capitol building. Curiously, we’ll intercede for America while sitting among scores of life-sized sculptures that memorialize influential Americans of the past 200 years.
In May 1996, I sat in this same cavernous room as Billy and Ruth Graham were presented with the Congressional Gold Medal. During his speech that day, Billy recounted: “I’ve walked through this building a number of times. I’ve seen these statues of the great Americans in Statuary Hall, and they have one thing in common.”
Billy paused, then stated emphatically to the hundreds of dignitaries seated before him: “They are all dead!” Next, he proceeded (typically!) to preach about the eternal life Christ offers.
In the same way, we could say that the mighty nations, kingdoms, and empires of history—no matter how great they may have seemed—share one thing in common: They too are all dead.
In fact, all current leaders in our nation, from the President on down, hold one thing in common: They will soon be dead!
Apart from Christ, all their efforts and ours to make America great—politically, socially, economically, internationally, even morally and spiritually—will ultimately dissipate and dissolve and die, no matter how well-intentioned or well-executed. Unless . . .
Unless our labors for making America great seek to focus on the greatness of Christ—to exalt him, serve his reign, promote his message, and spread his fame—they will fail.
Only efforts that make much of the supremacy of God’s Son can ever hope to make America great—can ever hope to raise our nation from the shroud that hangs heavily on so many of our people. America can become really great, like never before, only through spreading the life-giving truth about Christ and how great he truly is.
On May 4 we’ll be praying among the dead—which is the perfect setting for those who are asking the Father for a national spiritual resurrection through Jesus’ victory over death, the way Paul describes it in Ephesians 5 (NIV):
Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.
Making America Really Great: Five Essential Steps
Step 1: Recover for yourself a vision of how great Christ really is.
Personally commit to “rebooting” your own view of the majesty of King Jesus and his lordship among the nations. Let Scripture enlarge how you think about him. Then follow him in a way that accurately reflects his supremacy, his concerns, his kingdom, and his saving purposes in all things.
Start growing this larger vision of God’s Son by signing up for a free app that allows you to take the 21-Day Video Journey into more of Christ. See more about this wonderful tool here.
For Jesus to be great in our land, he must first of all be great in our hearts as believers. 1 Peter 3:15 challenges us:
Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are . . . (The Message).
Step 2: Reintroduce fellow Christians to your own recovered vision of the greatness of Christ.
Until the Church is saturated with the wonders of our sovereign Savior, so that the Lord Jesus occupies the supreme focus and passion of our life together, the Church can never make the name of Jesus great in our nation—which is the only hope of making America really great.
Commit to investing time every week to the study of God’s Word, specifically reading to uncover at least one valuable insight into the glory of Christ (See Something)—an insight that may be brand new to you that week, or one that has been meaningful to you for a long time. But in either case, find a truth that catches your heart and gives you a reason to rejoice in Christ.
Then, at church the next Sunday morning—or by email, phone, or social media—take a minute or two to share what you’ve uncovered with at least one fellow Christian (Say Something), helping to enlarge their vision of, as well as reinforce their devotion to, our Lord Jesus as a result. Before you’re done, briefly lead the two of you in prayer about how this insight might change both of your lives.
If millions of believers across our land would practice this habit every week, eventually we would saturate each other with Biblical teachings about the vast, “inexhaustible riches” found in Christ (Ephesians 3). Before long, the Body of Christ would wake up to the fullness of Christ and become more fully alive to the greatness of Christ. In turn, this new passion for Jesus would open up powerful possibilities for making his name great among non-Christians who live all around us!
Step 3: Reconstitute your prayer life so that you seek answers from the Father that most of all make Jesus great for many others.
Every prayer we pray in “Jesus’ name” requests more than just what meets our own needs and concerns. Every prayer that the Father answers is ultimately for the purpose of exalting Jesus’ name, spreading Jesus’ fame, and extending Jesus’ reign.
So, if we learn to pray Kingdom-shaped prayers and to look for results that ultimately make Jesus much greater before the eyes of our fellow Americans, then every prayer can become a stepping stone to making America great as Jesus is increasingly magnified from coast to coast because of how clearly he is seen to be the answer to all our prayers.
Step 4: Redouble your witness to the greatness of Christ among those who do not know him.
One way to do this is to follow the Mission America Coalition’s call to the “prayer, care, share” lifestyle.
Reach out to the people on your street as you faithfully pray for them daily; look for ways to minister to their practical needs regularly; then talk with them about Christ when opportunities arise.
As you share the gospel with them in word and deed you automatically increase their understanding of the greatness of Christ since most unbelievers know so little about him. And if millions of us across the nation who love and follow Jesus would practice this simple lifestyle within our neighborhoods, it would not be long before the impact of the gospel on our country would make this nation really great—as more and more Americans become fully surrendered to him as Lord of all.
Step 5: Resolve to never work for or settle for anything less than a nationwide Christ Awakening as the only hope for making America really great.
Refuse to set your hope on the promises of politicians, nor on any other humanly manufactured solutions.
Like Daniel, renouncing all substitutes, remain desperate for divine intervention by the greatness of Christ. To paraphrase Daniel 9 (and quote from Ephesians 1), declare to Heaven:
Lord Jesus, hear and act! For your sake do not delay the awakening that must come, because this nation is undone unless it awakens to the greatness of who you are. Truly, you are the only hope to make America really great. America can become great as never before when we have been forgiven, delivered, and redeemed by your saving power, so that from sea to sea we rejoice in your great name, the name that is “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”
About the Author
Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ-proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI) and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and to Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely-read book at www.ChristIsAllBook.com.