"First of all, then, I admonish and urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be offered on behalf of all men. For kings and all who are in positions of authority, that (outwardly) we may pass a quiet and undisturbed life (and inwardly) a peaceable one in all godliness and reverence and seriousness in every way. For such [praying] is good and right and pleasing and acceptable to God our Savior." I Timothy 2:1-3
In this passage the Apostle Paul is laying out for us the secret to the healing of America. I am sure we are all looking at the happenings around us with fear and trembling as we watch the basic foundation of what made America, America, crumble and turn to dust. I hear so often we have to pray! I certainly concur with that thought! But ... what does that mean?
First of all, Paul recognized the incredible privilege we have in prayer. To approach the throne of the Everlasting, all Sovereign, Creator God and "pray." Interestingly, the word "prayers" is from the Greek word "proseuche" which means to exchange or surrender. A picture of "not my will but yours be done."
Secondly, personal consecration, it is about me, not the bad politicians or drug dealers or ISIS. I must confess my own sins, sins of negativism, hatred toward others, lack of love and compassion for all.
To offer intercessions for all men is to plead for God in His grace and mercy to bring all to a place of repentance and blessing with an overflowing grateful heart, even those whom we see as the enemy.
I am thinking about Nehemiah (the story is in the first chapter of Nehemiah) when the walls of Jerusalem had been destroyed by enemy forces, the land had been plundered and people killed or taken captive. Nehemiah went to prayer. It was not just a little ditty: "Now I lay me down to sleep ... all my dreams of peace, please keep!" No, read the chapter. Nehemiah was dead serious and he prayed. He fasted and wept for many days because of the destruction of his beloved homeland. He confessed the sins of the land. He did not say God forgive the politicians that allowed this to happen, he did not condemn the drug dealers, the abortionists or the sexual perversions of his day. He said "Lord, we have sinned..." As a nation Israel had sinned.
As a nation, America has sinned against a Holy God. We have trampled His holy law underfoot and gone on without a care. It is all about personal happiness and nuts to the rest of the world. We have forgotten Jesus told us to love God and others. We have traded love for negative hatred. God forgive us for our narcissistic arrogance and total disregard for You and have mercy on us, O, most Holy God.
Will any of us become Nehemiahs? Is there someone who will give him/herself to fasting and fervent, heartfelt prayer for our dear and wonderful homeland?
But, why? So I can be comfy while the rest of the world is dying? When praying, motive is everything. Nehemiah's concern was not that of a comfortable life, but that his people were no longer allowed to worship Jehovah God in the way He had instructed them to worship.
We have an opportunity to meet and pray, to seek His face and turn from our wicked ways that He might heal our troubled land.
From noon to 1 p.m. May 2 we will celebrate the National Day of Prayer together at the Bethany Good Samaritan Chapel at 804 Wright St. in Brainerd. I hope to see you there.
Barb Christenson is a pastor at Community Church of the Nazarene in Merrifield.