September 11, 2001, 8:46 a.m.: The tick of time heard around the world. 2,976 people from 93 countries lost their lives in New York, at the Pentagon, and in a quiet field in Stonycreek Township, Pennsylvania. Filled with hate and committed to kill, Islamic terrorists used four airliners as deadly weapons, ripping apart families and decimating dreams.
So many lives were affected by the attacks of September 11, and though time does not actually heal all wounds, you can. Though years have passed, you remain faithful, and are close to the brokenhearted, and save those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). Wrap your arms of love around those who remember their lost loved ones on this day. May those who know and trust in you feel the sweet breath of your mercy and grace upon them. As you comfort those who have not put their trust in you, may they have such a quickening in their spirits that they will know, without any doubt, that you are drawing them with loving kindness (Jeremiah 31:3). God of forgiveness, bring light to those who wish us harm, and by your Spirit, enable your people to love and pray for those who hate us.
These acts of terror were designed and delivered with precision for a calculated effect. What the terrorists didn’t anticipate was the reawakening of tired patriotism and the rebirth of a dying national motto: In God We Trust. People began to value the freedoms they took for granted, seek the God they thought was a fairy tale, and treasure the family they still had.
In the blink of an eye, those who fought for themselves now fought for others. Those who needed love now gave love. Those who thought they didn’t have enough now understood they had it all. Those who presumed upon freedom’s unending providence without guard now stood as patriots in its defense.
Thank you that what the enemy planned as evil against us, you made it turn for our good (Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28). You are able to redeem destruction, beautify ugliness, sanctify unworthiness. Thank you that, as we fix our minds on you, you will keep us in the perfect peace that transcends understanding and mounts guard over us (Philippians 4:7; Is. 26:3). Thank you for the reawakening fires of revival and the renewal of right spirits within (Psalm 50:10). Continue to grow our knowledge of and faith in you. All honor, glory, might, and power belongs to you, Lord, our Rock and Redeemer!
With time, however, hearts turned once again. Twelve years after an attack that brought our country to its knees in grief and prayer, and to its feet in patriotism and victory, we have slipped into mediocrity, expecting the benefits of freedom without undergoing “the fatigues of supporting it.”
We no longer ask what we can do for our country, but what our country can do for us. We no longer look for what we can do for our fellow man, but for what our fellow man owes us. We no longer praise the Power that has made and preserved us a nation, but instead hail entitlements and handouts. We no longer work to make one out of many, but seek to divide and shame. We no longer uphold virtue and religion and morals, but instead squash them and call them intolerant and hateful.
Lord of all,
We call upon your name, and ask forgiveness for the wickedness of our land. We turn to you and ask your grace and mercy on our people. May it not take another tragedy to turn our eyes to you in humble repentance. Restore unto us the joy of your salvation (Psalm 51:12). May your church rise up once again to boldly proclaim your truth, in love, regardless of the cost. May we be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matt. 10:16). Forgive us when we cower and refuse to confront sin, both within the church and without. Forgive us also when we refuse to grant the same mercy and grace to others as you have to us. May we stand on the truth of your Word and lay claim to your empowering grace to live and love in a manner pleasing to you. Give us passion for your purposes and may our hearts break for what breaks yours. May we be open and sensitive to your conviction and guidance. Surround us with your Spirit, love, and mercy.
It is time for us to remember and proclaim that we are one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all. It is time to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength (Matthew 22:37; Luke 10:27). It is time to love our neighbor as we do ourselves (Luke 10:27). It is time we stand for truth, kneel in prayer, and lay down our lives for our friends (John 15:13). It is time.
Draw near to us as we draw near to you. Do surgery on us and cut out the very root of all that is not of you. Replace those things with the fruit of your Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control (Galatians 5:22&23). Enable us to be courageous as we stand for you and for our country, and surround us with a hedge of protection. Faith, courage, and prayer birthed and guided our great nation – may we return to them and put our trust in you. Give our leaders discernment, understanding, and knowledge. Protect us from physical harm and spiritual attack, and daily grow us more into the likeness of Jesus Christ. Fill each home with your love, protection, and Presence. It’s in His name we ask, God, please bless the United States of America! Amen.