Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
— Matthew 5:4
Did you know that mourning over sin is an important aspect of prayer for national revival?
As Christians, we should grieve over sin in our own lives and in those around us. God is pleased when we grieve over sin, and when we do, it draws His blessing. Consider this idea from the Bible.
Jesus’ second Beatitude promises blessing and comfort to those who mourn. In a narrow and natural sense, this Beatitude applies to those who go through the heartache of trial and loss. But most commentators believe that there is a larger, spiritual application in Jesus’ words that centers on mourning over sin. Most often, this verse is applied to mourning over one's own individual sin.
Yes, we should mourn over our own sin, and we will be comforted through the forgiveness and eternal life that are in Christ. However, we should not stop at the personal level. There is also a corporate dimension to this blessing. If we mourn over the sin of our collective groups, like our families, our churches, our communities, and our nation, God’s blessing of comfort can flow into those areas as well.
Think of biblical examples that emphasize the importance of corporate mourning for sin and God’s subsequent blessing. James chapter 4 shows us the power and need of corporate repentance for the blessing of God. That church was full of quarrels, covetousness, hatred, and prayerlessness (James 4:1-3). Their biggest problem was with God; they were making themselves enemies against Him (James 4:4).
James exhorts the believers to “draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8). Part of James’ prescription for this spiritual renewal is to grieve over their sin: “Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom” (James 4:9). That does not sound like a nice, encouraging word. Who wants to heed that advice or preach that sermon? But sometimes we need to swallow a pill that we really don’t like so that we can receive the cure that we desperately need. If they would humble themselves and mourn for sin, God makes a bold promise to exalt them (James 4:10).
God exalted Nehemiah, his people, and the city of Jerusalem, after Nehemiah spent four months mourning over the sins of his people (Nehemiah 1:1–2:1). God answered Daniel with angelic appearance and incredible revelation after Daniel grieved over the sins of his nation (Daniel 9:3-19). The Lord will be faithful to us as well and bring blessing and comfort to us corporately after we also lament the sins of the church in our day and age.
Dear Father, we wish that we did not need to take time to mourn, weep, and grieve. We wish that we were not in such a predicament of sin and need of revival. But we will not pretend as if all is well when it is not. Your Church in America has not been holy to You. We have loved ourselves and the world more than You. Let our grief over sin lead us to forsake it and return to You with all our love and devotion. Restore us again for Your name’s sake. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
With you in Christ,
Chuck Hetzler, PhD
Director, Christian Union Day and Night
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