Usually, this space is dedicated to prayer for other nations. But right now my own country is heavy on my heart. As the eldest of eight children and the member of a very large extended family, I’ve experienced love (at times) as a potent mixture of grief and frustration, hope and joy. Nobody like family can “get your goat” more thoroughly—and for nobody else do we have such irrepressible longing when we think of them in the context of prayer. I have the same “family” feelings towards the United States (and towards my heart-adopted country, Israel).
On both sides of the ocean, I’ve experienced indifference towards my nations with a deep sense of pain. I’ve heard believers in Jesus conclude comments with the very true observation that God will judge our national sin. And in such cases, I have longed that they would say those words in tears—and on their knees.
Don’t get me wrong: I realize that not everyone is called to intercede for the same things. But I want to side with the One who is not willing that any should perish, but for all to come to repentance. And that includes my own nation.
The recent election has left the American people at a new level of polarization. Not only did it increase the existing political, socio-economic, and generational divides, but surprising differences of opinion have risen between close-knit Christians who normally would have agreed on whom to vote for, and why. As a result, some members of the Body are grieving over their new president, while others are rejoicing and optimistic.
Worse, whether warranted or not, many Americans are “fainting with fear” over the future under the new administration. At one secular high school, teachers openly wept over the election results. I’ve heard of small children being subjected to their parents’ extreme concern, and even of students threatening suicide because of their fears. Various minorities, too, have begun anxiously looking over their shoulders.
Even now, weeks after the Inauguration, election-related issues are still provoking extremely intense debate on television and social media, on our streets and in our homes. As a nation, we seem to have fallen to new depths of incivility, disdain, and even violence towards those on the “other” side, with apparent disorientation as to who our “enemies” might be.
Historically, Americans have refused to let injustice, even in high places, go unchallenged, and I believe this is a good and godly thing. However, it’s too easy to fall into a habit of merely complaining about leaders we dislike—and never allow those concerns to provoke us to prayer. Or sometimes because we have a president we trust or like, we can unconsciously neglect God’s command to pray for our leaders.
As usual, it’s time for all of us—the sad, the fearful, the angry, and the rejoicing and optimistic alike—to turn to God. Just think: In the midst of such disunity, how wonderful it is that there’s something on which we wholeheartedly agree! God is sovereign, and He is good.
Since we are already agreed about the need for prayer, perhaps we could pray these things together:
- That we will be discerning about the many complex issues we’re faced with (“Men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do,” 1 Chronicles 12:32)
- That truth and wise speech will characterize our national conversation (“the earth filled with the knowledge of the glory” of God, Habakkuk 2:14)
- That God will be honored in every leadership position in the American government (“Take you wise men, and understanding . . . and I will make them heads over you,” Deuteronomy 1:13)
- That even through the fog of debate and fear, the American people (and all the watching nations) will hunger and thirst for Jesus (“I exhort . . . first of all, that supplications, prayers . . . be made . . . for kings and all that are in high place,” 1 Timothy 2:1–4)
- That for His name’s sake, God will heal our divided land (“If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves and pray . . . and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear . . . and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).