Can we affect what is going on in a nation by our prayers? I believe we can! But we must understand why our prayers are answered, and what we are actually called to pray. We are called to pray for a nation and its leaders so that two things will happen.
The first: That the people of God may live peaceful, Godly and dignified lives. This doesn’t happen when the government is against us.
The second: we pray for our leaders to come to salvation and to be leaders who lead others to salvation.
Notice the goals. We are not called to pray so that we can have more stuff. We don’t pray for our nation so that our retirement will be secure. We don’t pray for a nation so that small businesses’s will prosper again and the economy will turn around. We pray for our nation and other nations so that people would turn to Jesus and so that our fellow believers would be free from persecution.
I do want to be clear that I believe persecution is part of the Christian experience that will never go away. This persecution will increase to the greatest degree that we have ever seen as we draw closer to the return of Jesus, but we still pray for peace!
In Genesis 18 and 19 we see a good example of a man’s prayers, and how affect his prayers had on the city he prayed about.
“Then the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.” So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord.”
Genesis 18:20-22 ESV
The account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is intense. God sends two angels to the cities to see if they are as evil as he has heard. When these angels first arrive in the gates of this city, they are met by a man named Lot, who is the nephew of the famous man, Father Abraham. As you continue through this account, you find that the city is totally given to sin and is evil in every way. At one point it actually says that everyone in the city surrounded Lot’s house trying to force him to turn these two angels over to them so that the men of the city young and old could rape them. Absolute wickedness! Eventually we see that these angels have to destroy these cities, but not before rescuing Lot and his household.
So my question is, who was it that was crying out to God? God came down to see if the cry against the cities was true, but how many people’s prayers was God responding to? I contend that God responded to the prayers of two men… Lot and Abraham! We know that Lot was the only righteous man in the city, so he was most likely the only one praying. Maybe that’s what he was doing in the city gate when the angels arrived. And if you read about this account in Genesis 18 you also see that Abraham was praying face to face with God for the righteous people in these cities.
Lot’s praying caused God to respond! One righteous man brought God down into the situation! Let this encourage you! Your prayers matter, and they are heard! Let’s be constant in prayer! But Abraham’s prayer was also answered. While Lot cried to God about the city, Abraham was pleading with God for the righteous people in the cities. We know that Lot was the only righteous man in Sodom and Gomorrah and that the angels could not do anything until Lot and his family had left the cities and were far enough away to escape their destruction. So Abraham was heard by God too!
Lot prayed for the cities, Abraham prayed for the righteous in the cities, God responded to both!
The reason I titled this devotional, “Prayer for the Nations” is because that is what I want to encourage us to do! We pray for our own nation and we pray for the other nations. We pray for Godly leaders to arise, we pray that the current leaders would have wisdom and would turn to the Lord, we pray that God would bring a revival and steadfast Godliness to the nations, we pray that our brothers and sisters in the nations would be protected and strengthened, we pray that Jesus be glorified and that people turn to Him! The pattern of prayer always begins by the believers confessing and repenting of their sins and the sins of their nation, then we ask that God would begin to do things within the nation! Most of all we pray for Israel, God’s covenant people! Lord bring peace to Israel through their Messiah, Jesus!
We are called to pray, but will we take up this call? A way to begin is simply, “Lord, teach me to pray, and help me fall in love with prayer!” Remember who we speak to, our loving Father God! Let this make praying more comfortable to you; you speak to one who loves you!