(CNSNews.com) - America is in need of a new “Great Awakening” – an awakening that some Christian leaders say can only come about if Christians get on their knees.
“America right now is facing great complexities. We have a financial struggle that we’re in, we’re facing health-care issues that have us scratching our heads. Our place in the world has shifted. We’re a nation that really needs help from beyond ourselves. We feel like God is the help,” The Rev. William (Billy) Wilson told CNSNews.com.
Wilson, executive director of the International Center for Spiritual Renewal, is a member of the Awakening America Alliance, which is sponsoring “Cry Out America” on Friday, Sept. 11 -- an event calling for thousands of Christians to “gather at noon at county courthouses across the nation in repentance, to pray for the lost, to cry out for God to send another ‘Great Awakening.’”
It is an awakening that can only come about if Christians “wake up” and unite in prayer, Wilson said.
“Part of what we’re doing is calling for the American Church to wake up – and then to pray for a pervading -- and pervasive -- awakening in the nation that really brings truth and transformation,” he added.
“Biblically, the Church has tended to go to sleep at precisely the wrong moment,” Wilson said. “The disciples on Gethsemane slept through the night while Jesus was in prayer, and in the morning they simply were not ready for the pressures that came. And in many ways, the American church has been in a state of slumber.”
America’s decline in morality has been obvious, Wilson said, but there are now clear signs that American Christians are in need of a wake-up call.
“Statistics tell us, as of last year, on any given Sunday in the United States, only 17 percent of Americans attend church. That number continues to decline each year in America,” he said.
“People would say that they are church-going, and a lot more than that would say that they attend church regularly, that’s true – but on any given Sunday, only 17 percent of our population is in a local church. Only 9 percent of that is evangelical,” the Protestant leader added.
Wilson said in the Christian community, divorce, abortion, teen sex, pregnancy outside marriage and addictions -- such as gambling or use of pornography -- all occur at rates that parallel national averages.
Statistics from pollster George Barna seem to bear that out. A 2004 Barna Research survey found that at a time when the national average for divorce was 33 percent – 26 percent of Evangelical Christians; 33 percent of non-Evangelical born-again Christians; 34 percent of mainline Protestants; 30 percent of atheists and 28 percent of Catholics had been divorced.
The prayer event is being held on 9/11 – but it is not designed solely to commemorate the tragic happenings of that day.
“When 9/11 happened we all were shaken in America -- there was a lot of prayer that went on that day and in subsequent weeks we were a nation that felt vulnerable at that point, we felt like we need help from beyond ourselves, so a lot of people prayed,” Wilson said.
“Yet the reality is that 8 years later, we are more in need spiritually as a nation than we were on 9/11/ It is true that we have not had a terrorist attack recently on our shores, not a major one, at least – so people may have relaxed at least in that regard. Yet underneath, there is a growing remnant of Christian believers who realize that America’s spiritual situation has become ever more desperate. So they are binding together, uniting together in prayer and there is a rising tide of prayer and intercession going on in the American church, which is a great sign for the possibilities of awakening.”
“So really this is all about a bigger issue than just 9/11 and a moment of prayer. It’s about the need for a new awakening in the United States.”
In studying America’s spiritual history, Wilson said Christian leaders have discovered that America has known great spiritual awakenings --and times of spiritual decline.
“For the last 20 to 30 years, America has been in a spiritual decline. That has happened before in American history, so it’s not without hope spiritually,” Wilson added.
The nation may already be under God’s judgment, Wilson admitted.
“America has really pushed the edges of God’s righteous law by some of the judgments that we’ve made,” Wilson said. “The good news is that judgment sometimes precedes revival.”
“One of the common denominators in every great awakening in America has been what Jonathan Edwards, who was a preacher in colonial America in the first Great Awakening, called ‘united extraordinary prayer’ – out of the ordinary, not your normal prayer meeting at church. So on 9/11, we will have a moment of united extraordinary prayer to seek God for a new spiritual awakening in the nation,” Wilson told CNSNews.com.
Awakening is more than just “a good feeling,” he said.
“It’s more than just a few more people going to church, it’s a deep transformation that says people have become aware of God in their daily lives and in their home life again – and God has invaded, pervaded society in a new way,” Wilson said.
Wilson said the prayer event is not meant to compete with the annual National Day of Prayer observance in May or national prayer breakfasts.
Information about “Cry Out America” is available on the organization’s Web site.