Tomorrow, the first Thursday of May, is the National Day of Prayer. Christians will be gathering all around the country in order to lift our nation up in prayer. If you can, I encourage you to find an event in your area and join your brothers and sisters in Christ in public prayer. If you are not able to do that, then please make a commitment to pray throughout the day for our country. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you. Be a part of the collective prayer, because God hears the prayers of his people. And if there is any hope for America, it is in God alone.
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. – 1 Chronicles 7:14
When the Israelites were in exile, Daniel prayed a prayer that seems to convey so much of what our current situation is. I know that this was a prayer specifically for the Israelites and that it was during a specific time in their history, but I believe that we can use it as a model of prayer for our own nation at the current time. The following is the prayer that Daniel prayed. I hope you don’t mind, but I’m adding some of my own commentary as I read it and see the incredible parallels in so much of it.
I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land. (v. 4-6)
We still pray to the same great and awesome God who keeps his covenants. And as a nation we, too, have sinned and done wrong. Over the last couple of generations we have become more and more intolerant of God and his Word. We don’t dare proclaim or display the Word of God publicly despite all of the other filth that we regularly flaunt and applaud. We have determined that God’s commands are no longer relevant and all that matters is what “feels right”.
Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you. The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you. (v. 7-11)
If we really look at what this nation has become, we should be covered with shame. Good is called evil and evil is called good. (Isaiah 5:20) The killing of babies is fiercely protected. Marriage (God’s idea, by the way) has been redefined. The truth of Salvation in Christ alone is deemed offensive. We deny our Creator. The list goes on and on. Our nation is in a full out rebellion against God and the truth of his Word. Refusing to obey him. And yet, God remains merciful and forgiving. A truth ultimately revealed in Jesus Christ’s atoning death on the cross.
Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you. You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing on us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem. Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. The Lord did not hesitate to bring the disaster on us, for the Lord our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him. (v. 11-14)
What stands out to me here is the part that says – “all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth.” We can clearly see the disaster befalling our nation. People hating one another. Violent attacks against innocent people. The increasingly large divide between “us” and “them”. To say nothing about the natural disasters that impact so many people on a seemingly increasing scale. If we want to see change, it has to start with us, God’s people. We have to turn from our sins and give attention to the truth of God. Give attention to it! Read it! Live it! Proclaim it!
Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong. Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and your wrath from Jerusalem, your city, your holy hill. Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us. (v. 15-16)
Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name. (v. 17-19)
God still has a mighty hand. His name still endures and will for all of eternity. Long after America has seen its final days. And just like the prophet Daniel cried out to God for deliverance from his righteous anger and wrath, we must do the same. There is only one God. There is only one Savior. And if he does not intervene for America, then we will continue in the same destructive direction we are on until we are no more. We do not come to God in prayer because we believe that as a nation we deserve his intervention. We come to God in prayer because we know he is merciful! And as Christians, we bear his name!
Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord hear and act!