Father, you are Lord and Creator. You are holy and sovereign. We pray to you because you alone hear. You alone can intervene in our circumstances. You alone are able to bring about salvation, peace, and healing.

if my people who are called by my name 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

As your people, we humble ourselves, pray, seek your face, and repent. When we look around our nation and world, we are heartbroken at the fallen condition of mankind. We see wickedness, despair, immorality, violence, and hate. We long for awakening. We long for sinners to come to know you. But we realize that revival must begin with us. Reveal to us our sins that we may confess them. Grant us repentance that we may turn to you.

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!

Psalm 51:1-2

Have mercy on us your people. When we look in our sinful hearts, we find idols: things to which we give attention and adoration besides you (1 John 5:21). Use these days to reveal our idols that we may turn from them and to you with our whole hearts. We deserve judgment for our sin, but we plead your mercy.

You keep him in perfect peace
    whose mind is stayed on you,
    because he trusts in you.

Isaiah 26:3

Father, we are weak. As your people, we should walk by faith, not sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). But we find ourselves nervous, anxious, afraid. Forgive us for being overwhelmed by our circumstances and controlled by our fears. Teach us to keep our minds on you, to trust in you, and experience your peace.

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

Teach us to bring our anxieties to you in prayer with thanksgiving. Father, you want to hear us as your children. You want us to have your peace and presence. May we learn to pray in thankfulness and experience your peace.

They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

John 17:16-19

Thank you Father that you have changed us. Thank you that we have your Spirit living within us and our hope and future is eternal. Nevertheless, we find ourselves living in a world fractured by what is false and divided by disinformation. Sanctify us in your truth. You have sent us into this world to influence and impact. To fulfill your purposes, we need what is timeless: your truth and your Word. May we focus this day on your Word and your will.

praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Ephesians 6:18-20

Father, may we walk daily in a demeanor of prayer. May we persevere, praying when we feel like it and when we don’t. May we intercede for others. May we have boldness to declare the truth of the gospel that will redeem lost souls. The only hope for your people is revival and renewal in your Word and by your Spirit. The only hope for our nation and world is the gospel of your Son. Revive us your people that we may boldly proclaim Jesus to a lost world. In your glory and grace, grant revival to your people and awakening to our land.


PhPhoto by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

I’ve always loved sports and since my childhood, I’ve pulled for the UNC Tarheels. My love for UNC made me a Michael Jordan fan. A few weeks ago, ESPN launched a documentary from the 1998 Chicago Bulls team entitled “The Last Dance.” Recently, I’ve watched several of the episodes. The Bulls’ dynasty over that period of time was nearly unstoppable. The documentary makes for a fascinating behind the scenes look at Michael Jordan, one of sports’ most recognizable faces.

During the 1990s there was no one alive more recognizable worldwide than Michael Jordan. He was the best basketball player in the world. He was rich, famous, influential. But two scenes in recent episodes highlight the biblical reality that these things are full of vanity. In one scene Jordan is reclining on a sofa in a hotel room lamenting his fame. The hotel room was his respite from the fawning crowds and incessant media attention. In another episode, Jordan wished that he never be considered a role model because it was a no-win situation.

Fame, wealth, and influence are poor masters.

Jordan’s perspective is illustrative of another wealthy, powerful man who had reached the zenith of human potential, King Solomon.

Here are just a few samples of Solomon’s musings on vanity.

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
    vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
What does man gain by all the toil
    at which he toils under the sun?

Ecclesiastes 1:2-3

18 I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, 19 and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. 20 So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, 21 because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22 What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun?23 For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.

Ecclesiastes 2:18-23

Solomon recognized what the Chicago Bulls of the 1990s reveal: winning, working hard, and being wealthy are vain if pursued as an end. In listening to the reflection of players and coaches from the documentary, there is a distinct lack of joy. Winning could not overcome internal drama. Being the best did not ultimately satisfy the ego. Being under everyone’s microscope was too much pressure.

This documentary and Solomon’s writings are instructive for us today. While likely on a much smaller scale than either example, we too are caught up in vain pursuits. The pandemic we are experiencing spotlights our own vanities.

  • As an end in itself, work is vanity.
  • As an end in itself, wealth is vanity.
  • As an end in itself, leisure is vanity.
  • As an end in itself, pleasure is vanity.

In a matter of weeks, a once stable economy in the most wealthy nation on earth has been decimated. In a matter of weeks, work has forever been changed, wealth lost, leisure activities removed, and pleasure forfeited. If those things are what you have been pursuing, then you must know now that they make terrible masters.

Solomon’s reflections in Ecclesiastes highlight the highest potential of human experience. And humanities’ highest reach apart from God is always vanity.

As we reflect on our spiritual lives inside of our current situation, here are some evaluation questions:

  • Am I pursuing God or have I been replacing God for some smaller thing(s)?
  • Have work, pleasure, success, wealth, or anything lesser been my primary goals? If so, these lesser things are idols keeping me from experiencing the glory of God.
  • Do I desire God and the experience of revival more than I long for normality or the restoration of what I’ve lost?
  • What can I do today to pursue God singularly?

In recent weeks, I’ve written on the subject of praying for revival. Currently, I’m preaching a series entitled “Patterns of Prayer.” God has been teaching me that when I pursue lesser things, I often ignore Him. Today’s meditation and the upcoming sermons (Wednesday, from Philippians 3:1-11 and Sunday, from 2 Chronicles 7:14) highlight my own struggle to singularly pursue God.

I long for revival. I long for God. I pray that God will reveal my vain pursuits that I may seek only him. Will you join me in this pursuit of God?

Solomon’s final word in Ecclesiastes is an appropriate conclusion:

13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Photo by Daniel Jensen on Unsplash