Prayer: Hope For The Philippines

By Father James Reuter, S.J.

By her own admission, GMA (Gloria Macapagal Arroyo) rightfully assessed that over the last decades; our republic has become one of the weakest, steadily left behind by its more progressive neighbors.' Forty years ago, we were only second to Japan in economic stature, and way ahead of Singapore , Hong Kong , Malaysia , and Thailand . Today, at our present growth rate, it will take us 30 years to get to where Thailand is.

1. A population of 160 Million;

2. Of those, 70 to 90 million (equivalent to our current population) will
live below the poverty line;

3. Our national debt is estimated to be at US$200B (compared to US$28B when
Marcos fled, and US$53B today);

4. We will be competing, not against Thailand or even Vietnam , but against
Bangladesh ;

5. We will be the most corrupt nation in Asia , if not in the world (we're
already ranked 11th most corrupt nation by Transparency International) .

The signs are clear. Our nation is headed towards an irreversible path of economic decline and moral decadence. It is not for lack of effort. We've seen many men and women of integrity in and out of government, NGOs, church groups & people's organization devote themselves to the task of nation-building, often times against insurmountable odds.

But not even two people's revolutions, bloodless as they may be, have made a dent in reversing this trend. At best, we have moved one step forward, but three steps backward.

We need a force far greater than our collective efforts, as a people, can ever hope to muster. It is time to move the battle to the spiritual realm. It's time to claim GOD's promise of healing of the land for His people. It's time to gather GOD's people on its knees to pray for the economic recovery and moral reformation of our nation.

Is prayer really the answer? Before you dismiss this as just another rambling of a religious fanatic, I'd like you to consider some lessons we can glean from history.

England 's ascendancy to world power was preceded by the Reformation, a spiritual revival fueled by intense prayers.

The early American settlers built the foundation that would make it the most powerful nation today - a strong faith in GOD and a disciplined prayer life. Throughout its history, and especially at its major turning points, waves of revival and prayer movement swept across the land.

In recent times, we see Korea as a nation experiencing revival and in the process producing the largest Christian church in the world today, led by Rev. Paul Yongi Cho. No wonder it has emerged as a strong nation when other economies around it are faltering.

Even from a purely secular viewpoint, it makes a lot of sense. For here there is genuine humbling & seeking of GOD through prayer, moral reformation necessarily follows.. An d this, in turn, will lead to general prosperity. YES, we believe prayer can make a difference. It's our only hope.

Today, we launch this email brigade, to inform Filipinos from all over the world to pray, as a people, for the economic recovery and moral reformation of our nation. We do not ask for much. We only ask for 5 minutes of your time in a day, to fwd this email to your close friends and relatives.

This is the kind of unity which can make a big difference. Of course, if you feel strongly, as I do, about the power of prayer, you can be more involved by starting your own prayer group or prayer center.

We have tried people power twice; in both cases, it fell short. Maybe it's time to try prayer power. GOD never fails. Is there hope? YES! We can rely on God’s promise, but we have to do our part. If we humble ourselves and pray as a people, GOD will heal our land. By GOD's grace, we may yet see a better future for our children.

'If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sins, and will heal their land.'(2 Chronicles 7:14).

In the Bible verse quoted above, there is a very important phrase that many of our leaders and government officials easily ignore and which hinders their prayers from reaching the ears of God. That particular phrase is, "...and turn from their wicked ways,..."

This famous verse in the Bible is a conditional promise from the Lord. Just because we pray for prosperity for our land does not mean that the Lord will answer us. Not until the conditions are satisfied that the Lord will heal and prosper our land.

What hinders our nation from progressing is the rampant dishonesty among our people especially those who are in authority!

We should not even dare to pray for progress until we have prayed for strength and determination to turn away from our individual and collective dishonesty. Dishonesty is a sure sign of distrust in the Lord. How can the Lord answer our prayers for prosperity and progress when we can't even trust Him to provide for us by being dishonest in our ways? Take for instance bribery. A person resorts to bribery in order to get what he wants in his own way. If what he wanted is good, then why not pray to the Lord and trust Him to provide or grant his desire? This is a simple but clear sign of distrust and no faith in the power and goodness of God.

If we must pray for our country, let us all first pray for a genuine and permanent change of heart of each of our individual selves and as well as our society as a whole. And when the Lord starts to answer our prayer, and the time comes for the Lord to prompt us to be accountable for the dishonesty we have done, let us trust Him to see us through as we face justice. At this starting point on the road to a genuine change of heart, most people gave up easily because they are afraid and don't have trust and faith that the Lord will help them face and overcome the penalties of secular justice.

Look at our nation. Can't we see that the Lord is patiently dealing with the vast corruption that dishonesty has caused in our land? Our judiciary branch, He started cleansing. Our legislative branch, He is exposing. Our executive branch, needing so much prayer still becaue no matter how the Lord exposes acts of dishonesty, many of the officials who are involved in corruption are afraid and unwilling to change.

Let our accountablity be to God first. Let our prayers be for a genuine change of heart first.

True progress and prosperity (lacking nothing, needing nothing) is merely a by-product of an honest and God-fearing society.