JEFFERSON CITY — Just as Isaiah caught a fresh understanding of God in the face of adversity, God’s people in Missouri must catch a fresh vision as lawmakers wrestle with cuts necessary to balance the state’s budget.
Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of evangelist Billy Graham, called
the state’s Christians to a new understanding of Jesus’ power, position, person, presence, perfection and purity. With that fresh vision, they would be able to see themselves and the state’s financial crisis with a new perspective.
Asked less than a week before the event, Lotz was the featured speaker at a prayer rally at the state capitol in Jefferson City on March 29. Legislators, struggling to bridge a $500 million budget gap, had called on spiritual leaders to pray over the state’s financial woes.
Some legislators approached registered lobbyist and Missouri Family Network president Kerry Messer, a longtime Missouri Baptist, and Sue Stoltz, Midwest national area leader for the National Day of Prayer, to organize 40 days of prayer and fasting.
The noon prayer service in the Capitol Rotunda kicked off “Show Your Glory, Lord,” followed by prayerwalking around the state complex and through its halls. Constituents also prayed with their respective lawmakers. The 40-day emphasis is slated to end on May 7, the day the budget is due.
Billed as a non-partisan, non-political event, the prayer focus drew a standing-room only crowd, with onlookers watching from both Rotunda galleries, as well as lining the steps.
Using Isaiah 6 as her primary text, Lotz asked listeners if they had ever slept through their alarm. “An alarm is meant to wake us up,” she said. “I believe alarms are going off in our world.”
She pointed to the Sept. 11, 2001, World Trade Center bombing, Hurricane Katrina, record weather events and the world economic meltdown as alarms. “It’s time to look up and ask God…, ‘What do you want to tell me?’” she said.
Christians must capture a fresh sense of Jesus’ power, Lotz emphasized. “What causes you to doubt that Jesus is in control?” she asked.
Jesus is the power even to solve the financial crisis. “Look up and seek God and ask for His wisdom…even when we are where we are and it’s our own fault…. By His grace He will help us out of it,” she said.
Isaiah described how the Lord’s train filled the temple. Believers must be filled with Jesus to impact the state, the nation and the world. “The church is you and me…. What would it be like if all of us were filled with the presence of God?” Lotz asked. “I believe you and I hold the answer” to the world’s problems.
“In America, we’re so good at becoming a victim,” she said. “We blame somebody else for the mess we’re in…. Even with the economy…, could it be our own greed?”
The “fundamental” problem in the nation is sin, she believes. She called on the believers present to examine their lives in the light of Christ, to recognize Christ as Isaiah did and then to repent of the sin God reveals.
“I wonder what would happen in this state if God’s people, who are called by His name, would humble themselves and pray and seek His face and turn from their wicked ways. We’ll never know until we do it,” Lotz said.
She called listeners to pray individually for five minutes to ask God to reveal their sin. She reminded them that “God looks on the heart…. He saw it [sin] when it took place. He hears your thoughts.”
Lotz directed them to forgive themselves and any person who has wronged them, and then to act on the “revelation of sin” by asking forgiveness from those they have hurt.
She then broke the crowd into groups of four to six individuals for a 20-minute prayer time to pray specifically for Gov. Jay Nixon, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, the state auditor and the chairs of the House and Senate budget committees.
Lotz has added a Missouri-specific page to her Web site (annegrahamlotz.com) where individuals can sign up for a daily e-mail prayer guide throughout the 40-day emphasis. Messer will provide updated information for the page.
The internationally known speaker believes that prayer will make a difference in the state’s financial crisis, she said in a short press conference following the rally.
When asked if prayer is the only answer, Lotz responded, “[Through prayer] I know that God can give us ideas that we couldn’t imagine…. God has wisdom…, but we don’t know what He can do until we ask Him.
“[Prayer] is a way that God can take out the politics,” she added. Through prayer, the Lord can “impart wisdom to” legislators and direct them to make cuts “in the right places” and to “see new sources of revenue.”
When asked to name specific actions churches might do to assist, she reemphasized praying for state leaders. The body of Christ also must again function as God intended.
“People used to come to the church for help,” she noted. “But as the government has taken more responsibility, the church has backed off…. The church can pick up ways to help…. It’s what we should have been doing anyway.”
Pressed to explain how non-Christians would respond to her message, Lotz said, “I would say to those who are not Christian…that it is a time to ask God, to seek God…. Faith is a foundation for life that will undergird us.” Especially, she added, because she believes the worst is not over yet.
Lotz indicated that her father is “doing well and looks great” at 91. “He will be praying for Missouri. I promise you that.”