WASHINGTON D.C.- In times of trouble, national leaders have occasionally called the nation to pray and fast. Such was a moment this weekend when TheCall D.C. put tens of thousands of Christians on their knees right in front of Capitol Hill.
It was a coming full circle for TheCall, back to the Washington Mall where the first such event of mostly youth fasting and praying was held eight years ago. Founder Lou Engle says the whole nation needs a spiritual cleansing, so it only made sense to return to the nation's capitol.
As the event began, Engle asked the crowd to consider the holiness of the situation. He said from the platform, "I want you to lift your hands. Everything that we do today is before the presence of the Lord."
There was music and worship, but this was no fun-filled Christian concert. It was 12 hours of serious business. As Engle put it, "It's not a festival -- it's a fast." And it's two major purposes were to ask God to change the Body of Christ and then to change the nation.
But why does the Body of Christ need repentence before God? CBN News asked youth in the crowd. Rob Kaye is a student at Temple University in Philadelphia.
He answered, "The church for a large part of it has moved away from His holiness and His righteousness, the law that He's commanded us to do, so that He can forgive us and He can move and we can see healing and deliverance and salvation coming to America. See, the unbelievers, they're not expected to do holy and righteous things, but the church is. And then we can move to the unbelievers. But if the church itself is not holy and righteous, God won't move. And He won't honor our prayers and our cries."
Shanelle Stanley, a student at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, also said of repentence, "It moves the heart of God. It moves God's heart and that makes Him want to move for us." Christian pop star Michael W. Smith was on hand, but not just to perform. He said many great spiritual things go on in America, but - as he put it to CBN News - "There's a lot of crud spilling out. You just wonder how long God can be patient with that? The good news is His grace is sufficient, and He not only loves us, but He likes us and He's very fond of us."
Also on hand was former GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who led a prayer of repentence over abortion, saying," This nation has sinned. We have killed 50 million unborn children. Lord, forgive this country." Before Engle, Huckabee and other Christian leaders addressed The Call, they first addressed the country's media at a news conference, explaining how a day of prayer and fasting can shake and shape a nation.
Bishop Harry Jackon of the High Impact Leadership Coalition said, "America is in a moral mess, economic mess, military mess, we're just in a mess! And I believe it's at times like this the power of prayer becomes the thing that calls us back to God and can bring us back to the place where God blesses our land."
Lou Engle stated God calls for events like The Call. "It's God's prescription: in times of crisis, it's Joel 2 -- 'blow the trumpet in Zion, call a fast, gather all the people and let them fast.'"
Huckabee added, "This could be a very significant event -- to raise up a whole generation of young believers to say 'we want to change the world, we want to see life respected.'"
When it came to TheCall DC itself, those who came from all around the nation did what was asked of them: from 10 a.m to 10 p.m. they cried out for mercy, they repented, they wept, they prayed together and apart for hours, and they also worshipped and sang and danced and waved banners before their God. Could it all actually have any effect?
Anne Kay, a recent Auburn U grad, told CBN News, "I believe whenever His people ask Him for something, He said He'll give us whatever we ask, so I think whether it be a day or even a minute or even a year, He'll answer when we ask Him."
Organizers of TheCall are now praying that a wave of holiness was set loose at this event and that it will go from the Washington Mall out across the nation.