An Open Letter from Dr. Jack Hayford

Jack Hayford

Dear Friend,

Although I am not, by nature, an alarmist, I am writing you today to sound an alarm, to alert you to a danger that has arisen in America in this hour and to encourage you to respond to it with faith-filled action.

What I am about to say, I believe, comes not just from me but from the heart of the Holy Spirit. I am convinced He is speaking to us these days with great urgency and intensity. As we move through this 4th of July season and are mindful of the blessings God has poured out upon America, the Lord Himself is sounding the alarm.

He is re-awakening us, as Christians in America, to a call that is fundamental to the ministry of every believer. He is alerting us to the danger we face and, for the sake of our country's future, He is calling us to do the only thing that can avert it. He is calling us back to the ministry of intercession.

For the past 20 years or so, the church in America has drifted away from this ministry. You may not be aware of it if you're younger than I am (and, given my current age, most likely you are). But from my vantage point, the change is unmistakable. In my early years when I began pastoring, intercessory prayer was woven into the very fabric of the church. Our congregation at Church on the Way, like many others, was very much "into it" (as we might have said back then), not because intercession was hip or popular, but because in those days it was considered foundational to the Christian life.

Sadly, however, this is no longer the case. Interceding congregations are scarce these days.

The praying church in our nation has declined. We are considerably distanced from the intercessory pattern that characterized the lives of believers 30 or 40 years ago. Although there are believers here and there who still know a good deal about it, multitudes of Christians don't. Even some of those who have been faithful intercessors in the past have let it slip. Rather than continuing to watch and pray, some have drifted off to sleep.

I don't mean to be melodramatic, loved one, but this is the unvarnished truth: Neglecting the ministry of intercession has cost us dearly. It has taken a great toll, not just on the church, but on our entire nation.

We see the evidence of it all around us: economic and governmental problems too numerous to mention, a disregard for biblical values in our culture and an absence of the fear of the Lord. As believers, we are all disappointed and frustrated by such conditions and are quick to voice our dismay. We call for political action. We talk about getting out the vote and booting out of office the politicians and government officials who got us into this mess.

But the scriptural reality is that politicians and government officials are not the cause of our problems.

America is in the condition it's in today because of the prayerlessness of the church! Our nation is spiritually and morally sick because so many Christians are either unaware of God's call to intercede or unaware of how to go about it. I'm not suggesting that as Christians we shouldn't vote and be active in government, but our votes alone will not make enough difference. Political activism will not meet the need. No amount of human energy or enterprise can save this country.

The only thing that will save America now is prayer.

Some might consider this bad news, but it's actually not. The future of America, though seriously imperiled, is salvageable. If the living Church will rise to be the Church God intends, this nation can be turned around. If believers will once again become responsible and sensitive to the call to intercede, we will find God's Word is still good. His power is still sufficient. In our day, as in the days of Solomon, He will fulfill His promise:

“If My people who are called by My name will 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” (2 Chronicles 7:14-15).

"But Pastor Jack," you might say, "the problems we face are so massive, I don't know what to pray. I'm so disgusted and distressed by them, I don't know where to start." Then start with forgiveness. Forgiveness opens the door to effective intercession.

Why? Because to intercede is to step in on behalf of someone else. It is to do for another, through prayer, what Jesus did for us. As the ultimate Intercessor, He stood before God on our behalf when we were too unworthy, rebellious or ignorant to stand before Him on our own. "He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors" (Isaiah 53:12).

As believers, we're called to follow His example, to go to God in prayer for those who cannot and will not go to Him themselves. But we can't do it with anger and irritation in our hearts. We can't intercede for people when we're mad at them. On the contrary, our intercession must begin, as Jesus' did on the cross, with the cry, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34, KJV).

That cry is not often heard in the church these days. It seems we are better schooled in political judgmentalism, analysis and criticism than in being the first to forgive. This is one reason the ministry of intercession has been crippled.

But you and I can help turn the tide. We can ask God to forgive, not just the sinful and broken people around us, but everyone in our society, no matter how grotesque, corrupt or evil they've become. Instead of calling for condemnation, we can say, "Lord, what's happening in our nation is not worthy of You. It merits judgment, but I ask You for mercy. Father, forgive us, as a people, and breathe on us Your redemptive grace."

Can such simple prayers make a difference? Absolutely! You are an anointed child of the Most High God. Even a brief prayer uttered from your lips can change things.

What's more, you don't have to stop there.

You can do more. You can pray on—beyond yourself and your own abilities, because, as Romans 8:26 says, "The Spirit . . . helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."

Imagine a child trying to put together a puzzle that's too complicated for him. Then envision a father taking hold of the child's hand and helping him put the pieces in the right places. That's what the Holy Spirit does for us. As we yield to Him in intercession, He helps us. He takes hold together with us and gives us spiritual words and groanings that are beyond our natural comprehension so that we can pray exactly the right thing.

Beloved, America can be saved! You and I, as Abraham's spiritual seed, can help bring God's blessing on this nation. So let's do it. Let's change history by rising up and being the Church God intends us to be.

Your Servant in the Lord,

President Jack Hayford