Praying for our country

How should we Christians pray for our city and country in these troubled times?

It’s easy to be overwhelmed with all the issues – COVID-19 pandemic, racial justice, rioting, rising anti-Christian developments.

As I think about this, I find it simple to ask God for what I want.  I have definite opinions on all these matters.

But more and more, I’m trying to think about what God wants.  For that, I have to look in the Bible for guidance.

Clearly, God does not want us to sin, to turn away from him, and to hurt others.  He wants us to love God and love others.

It’s interesting to me that both Nehemiah and the prophet Daniel in the Old Testament began praying passionately for the restoration of Jerusalem while confessing their own sin as well as of those of the Jewish nation (Nehemiah 1 and Daniel 9).

The question I ask myself is: As a Christian, how have I behaved toward others and toward God?  Am I sinless?  Have I truly loved God and loved others?  I do not have clean hands.

One of the verses most quoted these days is 2 Chronicles 7:14 where God speaks to Solomon about Israel turning away from the Lord.  He says:

“If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”

There’s a condition attached to healing of our country – we must humble ourselves, turn from our wicked ways and pray.  That’s something important that we can do as believers.

We can also pray for just treatment of others – particularly the poor and the vulnerable.  That includes justice for people of all races.

In Isaiah 58, God makes a clarion call to his people to free the oppressed, feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and “lighten the burden of those who work for you”.  In Isaiah 56, the Lord tells his people to welcome foreigners rather than shutting them out of their midst.

And we can pray for peace and the welfare of our city and nation.

In 1 Timothy 1:1-4, the apostle Paul says:

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.  This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Ultimately, the greatest good for our city and our country is more of God as Paul suggests in this passage.

We can pray that out of the current turmoil, more and more people will give their lives to Jesus.

As the psalmist writes in Psalm 96:9-10:

“Worship the Lord in all his holy splendour.  Let all the earth tremble before him.  Tell all the nations, ‘The Lord reigns!'”

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