A Guide to Praying for Our NationScripture Reading: II Chronicles 7:13-14; Isaiah 6:1-5; Psalm 62:5-8; Luke 11:1-13; 18:1-8; Ephesians 5:1-21; 6:10-20 (cp. II Thessalonians 3:1-2; Hebrews 13:3); I Thessalonians 5:14-25; I Timothy 2:1-8; II Timothy 2:22-26; Matthew 5:44-45; I Peter 5:6-11.
The Call to Prayer
A guide to prayer is best appreciated if you understand the call to prayer. We face many dangers, challenges, and difficult labors. We dare not handle these pressures in our own strength. Prayer is hard work. It is described as striving, struggling, or laboring (Romans 15:30; Colossians 4:12). Prayer is mentioned as a continual and regular part of our lives, requiring the investment of our inner self. It is a regular discipline as well as a spontaneous response to life's situations (Acts 1:13-14; 2:42; 6:4; 12:5; 13:1-3; 16:13; Romans 1:9; 12:12; II Corinthians 1:11; Ephesians 1:15-16; 5:20; 6:10-13,18-20; Philippians 1:3-5; 4:6-7; Colossians 4:2; I Thessalonians 5:16-19; James 4:1-10; 5:13; I Peter 4:7; 5:7). Christ invested more time and showed more evidence of effort praying than in any other aspect of His ministry (i.e., teaching & miracles). See Luke 6:12-13; Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16; 9:28; 22:31-32; Matthew 26:36-45 (cp. Luke 22:39-46); Hebrews 5:7-9. We must not fall into the sin of prayerlessness (I Samuel 12:20-23).
We may come to pray, having our own concerns, sorrows, stress, fears, anger, and pride to deal with. We need to confess our own needs and failures as well as the needs and failures of others. Preparing our hearts to pray may require some time examining ourselves - humbling ourselves before God, and confessing our sins to God. An unprepared heart for prayer has been described as trying to build a fire with green wood.
We have enemies, whose actions we must pray against, but, for the sake of their souls, we need to pray for God to give them grace, mercy, and repentance. We have allies that we need to pray for and to pray with. The effects of prayer reach heaven and earth (Revelation 5:8; 8:3-4). Any attempt to pour out your heart to God is good. But praying in the Spirit and praying within the will of God is best. One way to accomplish that is to make sure we are saturated with Scripture when we pray.
This prayer guide is designed to give us target areas for prayer, as well as examples of prayer. Use it to pre-condition yourself and to guide you. If you find the amount of Scriptures overwhelming and too time-consuming, then only read a few - saving the others for another time that you might use this guide.
Praying for Our Nation
This Scripture guide is not designed to handle particular political issues or candidates. It is not merely something to do before the elections. It is something that we should be doing anytime or all the time. Politicians are only in office because so many people wanted them there. If you think the politician has bad principles, then remember that millions of citizens of your nation also have those bad principles. Better politicians and better laws do not make better people in our nation. Rather, better people will elect better politicians and support better laws.
So, how do we make better people? It is the responsibility of Christians and churches to:
Before we pour out our contempt for certain political parties or for those who hold a position in government, before we vent our anger about the media, and other forms of influence in our nation, we need to first ask if we, as Christ's ambassadors on earth, have failed to do our job and shine His light in the world.
Therefore, this guide to prayer is designed to look at the needs of the heart, mind and soul of people:
A Spiritual Approach to Praying for Our NationAn Overview of the Christian Community, our Society, and our Nation.
Begin with the House of God - How has our testimony been?
Prayer for ministries and those who are persecuted. - Spiritual warfare!
Society - Is there humility and fear of the Lord?
Government - God-ordained human authority that needs to understand their accountability to God!
Issues and Anger / The Strife of Tongues - Focusing on just a few issues often leads to the reduction of reasonable thinking, and to words and terms that lose their meaning and become inflammatory bombs that polarize people. Terms like "racist," "Black Lives Matter." "we believe science," "Nazis," and many more. Name-calling and clichés do not promote intelligent and helpful communication. The public debates, news reports, and many video clips on social media and many video clips on the news media should illustrate this. From the public arena to private conversations, clear thinking and calm dialogue are at a premium. Mockery, threats, and various forms of harm / violence have often been the results.
Fear and Panic / Emotional reaction - Without trying to identify a master plot of men, we will just go to the source, Satan, as the author of confusion. People cannot think, speak, or behave well in the midst of a chaotic atmosphere. Do we fear man / desire to please man / base our hope in man? - Or do we fear the Lord / desire to please the Lord / base our hope on the Lord?
Lies and Deception - The tongue is considered one of the deadliest weapons in the world. The heart is described as deceitful above all things and desperately wicked - undiscernible to all except God. The work of the Gospel (evangelism and revival) is the only hope to change people's hearts. Then, a better government might develop in our nation. Consider: Psalm 57:4; 58:3-4; John 8:44 (cp. John 8:30-36,47); Jeremiah 17:9-10 (cp. Romans 3:10-18; 6:17-18); I Corinthians 6:9-11; II Corinthians 5:17; 10:3-5.
Courage, Faith, and Positive Action - The danger with all the previous topics above is that people could become cynical, withdrawn, and uninvolved. These times require that people find strength in the character and promises of God. People must depend on God and yield themselves to be used of God. Consider: Psalm 10; 36; 37 (cp. 73); 94; Proverbs 28:28; Matthew 24:12; II Thessalonians 3:1-5; Hebrews 12:1-3; Psalm 27:1-3,11-14; I Corinthians 15:57-58; II Timothy 2:3-4; I John 5:3-5.
Focus on God - Worship, Awe, Love, Peace, and Surrender
Holy, Perfect, Unchanging, Eternal
Consider Numbers 23:19; Psalm 97:12; 102:25-27; Isaiah 6:1-3; 40:12-31; 55:8-9; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 6:17-18; 13:8; I Timothy 1:17; James 1:17; I John 1:5.
Power, Wisdom, Sovereignty
Consider Psalm 2:1-12; 115:1-3; 119:89-91,160; Isaiah 2:1-4; 46:9-11 51:1-13; Habakkuk 2:14; Romans 11:33-36.
Gracious, Merciful, and Loving - God has spoken. We need to listen, believe, and tell others. We need to receive God's grace and then distribute it to others. God's will working in us leads to our good will towards men. Consider Psalm 117; 145; Isaiah 55:6-11; II Timothy 2:1-16,22-26; Titus 3:1-7; I Peter 4:10; I John 4:7-21
"…Freely you have received, freely give." (Matthew 10:8)
Grieving with God - "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted." Godly sorrow in our hearts is precious to God. It means that we are united to Him in such a way that we love what He loves and hate what He hates. Many sorrows abound in the world. And God cares about them, but Godly sorrow is something that we share in common with God. We know God's Spirit can be grieved (Genesis 6:5-6; Ephesians 4:30). "To grieve" means "to have, or to cause inward pain." Jesus is described as "…a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…" (Isaiah 53:3). Paul encourages us to unite with Christ in a three-fold pursuit of Christ's heart (Philippians 3:10). May God tenderize us and make us sensitive to sin, to unrighteousness, and to all that dishonors His worthy name and glorious purposes.
Consider Psalm 34:18; Ezekiel 9:4; Malachi 3:16-18; II Corinthians 7:8-11; Philippians 3:18-19; James 4:6-10.
An Examination of Daniel's Prayer
Daniel is a unique figure in the Bible. He lived during the Babylonian captivity of Judah. Though he was a young captive, he served in government as one of the king's counsellors. He also was a spiritual man, deeply committed to prayer. With a deep concern for the future of his people and for the future of Jerusalem, and after spending time searching the Scriptures, Daniel poured out his heart in prayer to God. This is the longest prayer in the Old Testament. For all of the earthly pressures we see Daniel enduring, it is the Scriptures that most motivate him to pray. Prayer is a way to release negative burdens that trouble our souls. Prayer helps us to have godly and productive attitudes towards the challenges and responsibilities of life. Prayer also brings us to be burdened with things that are most important to God (transcending our own personal burdens).
Now let's examine Daniel's prayer: a model for us to follow.
Worship - Daniel 9:3-4 To whom are we talking?
Confession - Daniel 9:4-15 Do we agree with God?
Purpose in Prayer - Daniel 9:16-19 Do we want what God wants?
Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem
This psalm belongs to a group of psalms called "The Songs of Degrees" or "The Songs of Ascents." Fifteen psalms (120 - 134) were sung by Jewish pilgrims on their way "up" to Jerusalem - which was about 2700 feet in elevation). There were three special occasions for doing this: 1) The Feast of Unleavened Bread; 2) The Feast of Pentecost; 3) The Feast of Tabernacles (or Feast of Booths). They would start from far away. As they ascended towards Jerusalem they would stop at certain stations and sing these psalms. They would end their procession at the Temple (See Psalm 134). This gives insight into the meaning of Psalm 121:1. The hills are not just any hills, which we might look at and think of the God who created them. These are the hills of Jerusalem, which are being climbed to arrive at The House of God / The Temple, Where God meets with His people, where the blood of sacrifice and atonement is offered. Among these hills the Son of God would eventually offer Himself as the ultimate and complete sacrifice for the sins of the world (John 19:1-22; Luke 23:32-33; Hebrews 10:1-14; 13:11-12).
Psalm 122 draws our attention to the importance of Jerusalem to the Jewish people. It was the place of focus for the spiritual lives of God's people. God gave them that place. He met with them there through the ordinances which were carried out in the temple. The whole nation had only one temple - one official meeting place to do God's business. Jerusalem, Mount Zion, the Temple, and the Ark of the Covenant: all were called God's "footstool" in the sense that Israel would come and sit at the feet of the Lord, be instructed, guided, forgiven and blessed.
[Note: there are other uses of the word "footstool" that denote God's greatness above the earth and His future victory over all of His enemies, bringing them into submission. See Isaiah 66:1; Acts 7:49; Psalm 110:1; Matthew 22:44; Hebrews 10:12-13 and many more.]
Daniel's great burden to know the mind of the Lord included a tremendous concern for the city of Jerusalem (Daniel 9:2,7,12,16-19,24-26). Daniel would pray, facing Jerusalem, three times a day - even when it was a capital offense, by law, to do so! See Daniel 6 - especially vs. 10.
So, with all this emphasis on the importance of Jerusalem to the Jews, is Psalm 122 only telling them to pray for its peace? Should Christians pay any attention to this psalm? Should Christians have a passionate and compassionate interest in this ancient city?
Four ways for Christians to pray, as instructed in Psalm 122:6 - We are instructed to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem." We are promised prosperity if we love this city. There are four ways that a Christian can apply this passage to their prayer life: