Marches impressive but upcoming prayer initiatives carry potential for deep, sustainable change — Alf James
As important and impressive as the marches that have taken place around the country calling for President Zuma to step down are, what they have impressed most on me is the importance of attending the “It’s Time” National Day of Prayer on April 22 near Bloemfontein and to participate in the national prayer initiative #50Days2BlesstheNation to contribute to sustainable change in South Africa.
It is broadly accepted that we require change in the country: change from poverty, violence, racism, crime, and corruption; change from a lack of respect for the value of life and authority; and change from a disrespect of accountability to the people of South Africa.
However, the changes we require will not be sustainable merely through a change in governance, but through a change of heart to accepting the sovereign authority of our true ruler who is God, not government.
According to the SA Prayer Movement for Change, there is a serious contest for the spiritual rulership of our nation which requires the royal; priesthood (1 Peter 2:9) to take up its God-given responsibility as kings and priests to our God (Revelation 1:6) and establish Jesus as the righteous ruler of South Africa and increase His government upon the land (Isaiah 9:7).
Need to change from within
The change we need is not change that is determined outside of us, but from within, for the kingdom of God is within (Luke 17:21).
A huge advantage of change being determined from within us instead of by outside elements is that it can take place instantaneously.
Changes of heart and attitudes can take place from one moment to the next as opposed to social and structural change that takes years and decades of struggle to achieve, if it is accomplished at all.
Dr Arno van Niekerk, author of Enough! What is the plan says real, sustainable and lasting change only takes place from within and is not determined by outside forces.
“When hearts change within people then you see lasting change in their material surroundings and relationships, which is critical for South Africa, now, because we are at a point where tensions are high.”
The change we need is a change in each and every person’s heart in the country beginning with our own. No matter if that heart belongs to an ANC, DA, EFF, UDM, or ACDP supporter, it is only through a change of heart in all South Africans that the changes we desire will come about in a lasting and equitable way.
Determined by the grace of God
This change is not determined by ourselves, but by the grace of God.
However, it seems that we, as South Africans, still believe we can bring about sustainable change through our own efforts such as the marches, whereas the “It’s Time” prayer gathering is an acknowledgment that sustainable change will only come from the Lord.
Angus Buchan says God is more than willing to intervene on our behalf; He is just waiting for His people to come together before Him humbly in unity.
We need to recognise the truth that we are completely dependent on Him and repent from not only our sins, but our pride, based on thinking that we are in control (through our government and political parties) of determining the future of our country.
We need to change our minds from our sinful, self-reliant ways to accepting our dependence on God, and being submitted and surrendered to Him if we expect to move forward in our personal and national relationships with Him.
Realise our dependence on God
Van Niekerk agrees that the key to bringing lasting positive change to South Africa is to realise our dependence on God.
“That does not mean we do not have a role in the change, but that we must be willing instruments in the Lord’s hands to allow Him to bring about change through us.
“We can contribute to change practically through reconciliation and healing, and by building-up our communities, but the key is total dependence on the Lord and not to do it in our own will.
“It is up to us to make a decision in repentance before the Lord, humble ourselves and allow Him to free us of any unforgiveness, bitterness, judgmental attitudes, hatred, or negativity that prevent us from being His instruments of change, and which the Lord wants to deal with as much as He wants to bring about change in South Africa.
“Change in the country will be the product of the change inside us,” says Van Niekerk.”
Channels of God’s change through prayer
He says one of the ways we can be channels of God’s change is definitely through prayer, which brings about change in the spiritual realm that manifests in the physical realm.
Prayer focuses us on God’s solutions, prepares us for receiving His grace, hearing His voice and doing His will, which all promote dependence on Him.
Van Niekerk says prayer encourages a dependence focus out of which we are able to become the Lord’s obedient instruments.
This brings us to the importance of participating in the national prayer initiative #50Days2BlesstheNation, the aim of which is for Christians to take responsibility for our nation; believing that God can and will change the hearts of South Africans.
Asking God to change our own hearts
According to the #50Days2BlesstheNation initiative, our first task is to ask the Lord to change our own hearts from a negative perspective of our nation to one of faith, and trust that He wants to use us to bring about the change.
Attending the “It’s Time” national day of prayer is another vital element in our contribution to sustainable change in the country and will add to our ability to cooperate with the Lord in changing South Africa.
The only effort we need to be part of a life and nation changing experience that is set to impact not only South Africa, but the continent and the world, is to be at the “It’s Time” National Day of Prayer on April 22 at Wilde Als farm outside Bloemfontein and to humble ourselves before the Lord in repentance.
Van Niekerk says at a time when neither politics nor economics seem to have the answers to the change required in South Africa, God’s people are uniting and this is when the Lord will start raising His standard through His people, but the key is that “It’s Time” for absolute humility, surrender and faith in God for a breakthrough, then to leave the gathering as humble and willing instruments of His change.
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