The first Thursday of May is set aside as the National Day of Prayer in the United States. Many gatherings will take place in front of City Halls and in town squares all over the country. While many of us might not be able to attend these events, it is wise for us to set aside time to pray for our nation. Our nation has many needs, but there are five particular areas that we should offer for our country on this National Day of Prayer.
The first matter Christians need to consider when we pray for our nation is to pray for our nation's leaders to have wisdom. In 1 Timothy 2, the Apostle Paul instructed that prayers should be offered "for kings and all who are in high positions." In 1 Kings 3, the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream. He told Solomon to "Ask what I shall give you." Instead of asking for riches or long life, Solomon asked for "an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil." The writer of 1 Kings said, "It pleased the Lord that Solomon asked this." God wants us to pray for our leaders, and it delights him when leaders seek wisdom, so we should pray that our leaders would receive wisdom from God and have the humility to know they need his wisdom.
A Prayer for the Continuation of Religious Liberty
When Paul commanded the church to pray for all people and those in high positions, he said the purpose was so "we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. Paul asked Christians to pray that government would not interfere in the church living out the Christian life and fulfilling God's mission in the world. For Christians in America, this means that we continue to pray for the government to uphold religious liberty. We need religious liberty so we can speak the Gospel freely and advocate for Christian moral positions in a culture where they are increasingly unpopular.
The first amendment was designed specifically to protect religious minorities from the establishment of a state religion and to protect the conscience of religious believers as they practice their faith. With the government choosing sides on many moral debates and branding disagreement as discrimination, we should pray specifically for the courts to uphold the free exercise clause and for them to reign in our elected leaders' penchant for making declarations about issues of conscience.
A Prayer for Healthy Churches
When Paul cataloged his sufferings in 2 Corinthians 11, he added, "there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches." Paul's concern for the health of Christian churches outweighed the sufferings he faced from imprisonments, beatings, and hunger. If the Apostle Paul so cared about the flourishing of churches, then shouldn't we as well?
Our chief prayer for the churches ought to be for their spiritual health. We should pray that churches remain faithful to uphold God's word and faithful to proclaim the Gospel. We also need to pray for churches to keep a good reputation in their communities so that the church's life does not undermine its witness. To that end, we ought to pray for every church to grow in demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit and to grow in their love for one another.
A Prayer for Revival
One prayer we should pray often is for revival in our nation. We see the societal decay around us and often grope for a political solution. Often, the solution to what ails us as a culture cannot be fixed with an appropriate set of laws. People do not need their behavior modified; they need a new heart. We should pray that millions of men, women, boys, and girls in our country would come to know Christ as Lord and Savior. We pray that his Kingdom would be extended here on earth in the hearts of men and women.
A Prayer for Just Laws
While just laws can change hearts, we can and should pray that the laws of our land would be just, especially for those who are marginalized. We should pray that our system of laws would continue to protect those who are truly innocent of crimes and that we would continue to uphold the principle that people are innocent until proven guilty. We pray this because there is nothing more unjust in a society than those who are innocent finding themselves condemned to prison.
We also ought to pray for laws that protect the most vulnerable among us. We should pray and advocate for laws that protect children from harm and abuse. Our prayers must also focus on laws to advocate for the unborn, for they truly cannot advocate for themselves. We rightly recognize abortion on demand to be a scourge on our society, and we pray for it to be lifted as soon as possible.
We are grateful to God that his Son purchased access to his throne when he died for us. God invites us and beckons us to present our requests to him. As many of us are concerned about the direction of our nation, we should learn to take those requests to him, praying for ourselves as well, that we might play a part in God's answer to these prayers.
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Scott Slayton writes at “One Degree to Another.”