Speaking at the National Day of Prayer this year in Washington D.C., Ravi Zacharias reminded the audience filled with national leaders and luminaries that, “No nation stands as tall as when it is on its knees.” It is our prayer that on this Memorial Day, as we remember the men and women who have courageously given their lives for our nation, we will also remember the God in whom we are given life and breath, the Lord Christ who reminds us in Gethsemane that prayer is a way of life. The following words are taken from a speech given by Ravi Zacharias at our Nation’s Capitol on the National Day of Prayer in 2002.
Today I stand before you of this great nation, privileged by the culture of my birth, but privileged now to live in this wonderful land as a citizen. Indeed, this is a great nation. Russell Kirk in his book ROOTS OF ORDER says, “There’s nothing ever been tried like this in history to reconcile liberty with law.” My dream for America is that it will fulfill the greatness that was first envisioned within the hearts and minds of its founders. And may your life be brought to the fullness that God has for you, too. Dear friend, you will find it in prayer.
In prayer, you build a conviction of safety, not only for yourself, but for the next generation. Billy Kim, the famed Korean evangelist, tells of the time during the Korean War, when one of the American soldiers was ordered to go and rescue his fallen mates. And when he was given the order, he was about to jump out when he looked at his watch and ducked for cover. A few minutes later, the commanding officer came back and said, “Go and get your fallen mates.” He said, “All right, sir.” He looked at his watch and ducked for cover once more. Three times he was ordered to do so, he said, “Yes,” but then ducked for cover. Finally he looked at his watch one last time and then stormed into the fray. Somebody said to him at the end of that painful day, “What took you so long?” And he said this: “I was terrified to go, until I remembered the hours of the day my mother was going to be on her knees in prayer. I took out of my shell hole knowing nobody was going to put fear into my heart as long as I was blanketed by the prayers of my mom.”
I love that story. For it reminds us that in prayer, we build the conviction of safety. I too, have been in the thick of way. I was in Vietnam during the heydays of its trouble. I was in Cambodia hours before it fell. I have never seen more confident service men and women than when they are leading under a blanket of prayer. Truly, our nation more than ever needs to transfer that trust to the next generation.
Journalist Malcolm Muggeridge penned some of the finest words ever written, and yet some of the most candid words. Today especially, as we remember that a nation never stands taller than when it is on its knees, I think his words are worth considering. Writes Muggeridge:
We look back on history and what do we see? Empires rising and falling, revolutions and counter-revolutions, wealth accumulating and wealth dispersed, one nation dominant and then another.
Shakespeare speaks of ‘the rise and fall of great ones that ebb
and flow with the moon.’ In one lifetime I have seen my own
fellow countrymen ruling over a quarter of the world, the great
majority of them convinced, in the words of what is still a
favorite song, that, ‘God who’s made the mighty would make them mightier yet.’ I’ve heard a crazed, cracked Austrian proclaim to the world the establishment of a German Reich that would last a thousand years; an Italian clown announce that he would restart the calendar to begin his own assumption of power. I’ve heard a murderous Georgian brigand in the Kremlin acclaimed by the intellectual elite of the world as a wiser than Solomon, more enlightened than Ashoka, more humane than Marcus Aurelius. I’ve
seen America wealthier and in terms of weaponry, more powerful than the rest of the world put together, so that Americans, had they so wished, could have outdone an Alexander or a Julius Caesar in the range-scale of their conquests. All in one little lifetime. All gone with the wind…
Behind the debris of our self-styled, sullen supermen, there stands the gigantic figure of one person, because of whom, by whom, in whom, and through whom alone mankind might still have hope. The person of Jesus Christ. Ladies and gentlemen, let us be on our knees, the cause is great and our Lord is greater. Prayer is simply profound and profoundly simple. But most importantly, in prayer we find the sovereign God who will change us, the One can bring us to bloom for the purpose for which He created us. May God bless you and keep you this day and always.
Copyright 2003 Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM). Reprinted with permission. “A Slice of Infinity” is a radio ministry of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.
Memorial Day – Reagan’s Speech