Nashville has become a draw for people all over the world, especially for the lover of country music. As a child, the memories of going to the Grand Ole Opry with mama and daddy are still fresh. It seemed daddy could barely breath when Loretta Lynn came on the stage, and mama would tire of all my questions as to why Minnie Pearl still had the sales tag hanging on her hat.
Walking the streets of Nashville today is quite different from that period of innocence in my life. Today, the echoes of the past are replaced with the hoots and hollers of those ready to have a rip-roaring good time and with the smell of hot chicken. I wonder if any of the visitors to our great city ever take the time to learn about the rich history of the Mother Church of Country Music, the Ryman Auditorium. I imagine not many know that it was first named The Union Gospel Tabernacle, built by Sam Jones and Thomas Ryman. They would probably be surprised to learn that the purpose of that beautiful old building and wooden pews was to offer a place for people to come and hear the gospel message—not country music.
Evangelist Sam Jones was known to draw revival crowds by the thousands with a simple theology message, “You need to quit your meanness!” Well, ain’t it the truth. Proverb 11:17 says it this way: “A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself.”
Actually, bolder words would be needed today, Brother Jones. It isn’t meanness; it’s a heart matter, “For from within, out of the heart of man come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
The days of walking the streets without any fear appear long gone. Purses have to be held tightly, words have to be chosen carefully so as to not offend anyone, and God forbid we leave home without hand sanitizer or a mask. Simple reminders of why the Bible says to pray continually.
Recently, my dear friend and I went to the State Capital to lift up our city. Standing on the steps of that building, with the wind blowing gently around us and Old Glory flying above us, we cried out for the Spirit of God to fall upon our land. God’s word promises that, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:14
I admit that praying for our city and nation isn’t something I’ve done for very long. Yet, we are told to pray “for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life…”
Maybe, just maybe as a child, when life was tranquil sitting in those Grand Ole Opry pews, not only did my heart vibrate from the harmony of voices on stage, but from the cries of Sam Jones praying for our great city and a harvest of souls…
We need to pray with boldness like never before. Will you join me?