How to Truly Pray for the Nation in Times of Crisis

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I read a post on 9/23/2020 from Dan Rather explaining that he felt our nation was in a crisis beyond any he has ever known. More than the Depression, World War 2 and the following wars, more than 911. He said, “There is no sugar coating the dangers and darkness we live in.”

Rather is referring, in that post, to the president’s announcement that he did not feel it was necessary to accept the peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election. He has instigated mob action to enforce his will and is activating a Republican-held Senate to install a new Supreme Court justice that will look out for his interests in staying in office if he looses the election.

If the political dirty-works was not enough, we are still:

  • in a pandemic that has killed over 215,000 Americans and left the economy in shambles, people without jobs and millions facing evictions, parents who have jobs trying to work from home while monitoring their kids’ digital education
  • constantly faced with racial injustice and systemic racism while those who raise their voices for justice are called and treated as criminals
  • living on a planet with the climate clock ticking
  • in the name of capitalism, large corporations and billionaires are swallowing up small businesses and enriching themselves at the expense of honest, hardworking Americans

It is time for those of us who call ourselves Christians to take our place in the protection of our nation. How do we do that? In prayer. This is not trite, it is desperation.

For decades (and especially since 2016) I have been praying for the nation according to II Timothy 2:1: 

I exhort therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercession, and giving of thanks be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. KJV

and II Chronicles 7:14:

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and heal their land. KJV

These prayers are daily prayers. Something that should be done (and if done by all Christians), we would see God’s hand and guidance more clearly. That would be “rolling our works on the so that he can make our thoughts agreeable to his” (Proverbs 16:3).

In times of national crisis, these daily prayers are vital but insufficient.

In times of crisis, more is needed for the people of faith who should be the grace-filled, fruit-filled, thought-influencers and guides for the nation. In order to fulfill our true roles we need to take our places in the workings of our nation. The most important place is prayer. 

Here are some ways to truly pray for the nation in crisis:

1. Start where you are.

Many Christians do not actually have a practice of praying, let alone prayer for the nation. Okay. No shame. Start where you are. (BTW- Here is an interesting Pew study on Americans and prayer habits.)

One way to start where you are is to triage your time. 

  • Fill wasted-spaces in time.
    • One of my friends is frequently in her car. She has begun to use stops at red lights to pray for the nation.
    • Do you find little spaces in your day that you can drop a quick plea to God on behalf of the nation? 
    • Do not discount these small moments. These are not insignificant. Every moment counts in a crisis.
  • Stop the stress scroll
    • You know what it feels like. You go to quickly check your social media and at some point it becomes hypnotic and you find you have wasted 20 minutes scrolling. That is not funny! You HAVE been hypnotized. 
    • In this national crisis, you do not have time to feed your soul to some corporate hypnotist who wants your presence on the tool so they can sell advertising to you.

Please set a timer for five minutes on social media then spend the rest of the about-to-be-wasted 20 minutes on prayer for the nation. Or even 3 minutes on prayer for the nation.

What can you pray during those 20 minutes?

Ask for God’s intervention in:

Christians to live II Chronicles 7: 14

That God’s people would:

  • humble themselves
  • pray
  • seek God’s face
  • turn from our own wicked ways
  • so that God could hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land

Pray for God’s intervention in our hearts, minds and actions that we can truly fulfill His mission through us.

Pray for the Executive Branch

This includes: 

  • The president
  • His cabinet and advisors
  • All the staff associated with them
  • All the departments and agencies, such as:
  • Military
  • Foreign service
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Department of Justice
  • Visit USA.gov for an extensive list. You would be praying all year. Good. https://www.usa.gov/branches-of-government

Pray for God’s intervention to turn the hearts of the nation’s Executive Branch leadership to him. To intervene in their thoughts and intentions that they think, decide and act out of humility, honesty and the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control).

Pray for the Legislative Branch

  • US Senate
  • US House of Representatives
  • Government Accountability Office
  • Office of Inspector General
  • Library of Congress
  • All of the staff

Pray for God’s intervention to turn the hearts of the nation’s Legislative Branch leadership to him. To intervene in their thoughts and intentions that they think, decide and act out of humility, honesty and the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control).

Pray for the Judicial Branch

  • Supreme Court
  • Federal court system
  • All their clerks
  • All their staff

Pray for God’s intervention to turn the hearts of the nation’s Judicial Branch leadership to him. To intervene in their thoughts and intentions that they think, decide and act out of humility, honesty and the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control).

2. Okay, got your time-fillers? Now, add some old-school intercession for true times of crisis:

Intercession is what we call the act of praying for, or standing up for someone (and especially for the nation). Here are some powerful kinds of intercessory prayer:


Fasting

Throughout the Old Testament, when the nation of Israel faced a genuine crisis, the nation would fast together. The fast could be called by the king, a priest, a prophet or simply the people spontaneously fasting as they recognize the desperate need for Divine intervention. 

If you would like to read a little bit about fasting, check Jewish Virtual Library’s explanation or read Elmer Towns’ old classic: Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough. You can read about national fasts in Judges 20, I Samuel 7 and 14, II Chronicles 20, Jeremiah 26, Esther 4, Nehemiah 9, Jonah 3.

  • A simple version of fasting is to pick something to stop doing in order to better align yourself with God. This can be:
    • An addictive food
    • An addictive behavior
    • An addictive thought pattern
  • One of the most important fasts you can do are the fasts of action that are listed in Isaiah 58: 6-7. God himself informs us: 
    • Is this not fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? 
    • Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not they self from thine own flesh? (KJV)
    • One way to carry out this kind of fasting is to vote. 
      • If you vote on behalf of the oppressed, hungry, poor, homeless, then your vote is intercession. Representative John Lewis said, “Your vote is precious, almost sacred.”
    • One way to carry this out is to contact elected officials.
      • Keep and eye out for legislation or simply let them know what you think and have prayed about. They answer to their constituents. Your voice matters. It is intercession.
    • Sometimes God will direct you to take action on behalf of Isaiah 58 people.
      • I personally have found at times that God has directed me to be part of a peaceful march, to volunteer on political campaigns as canvasser, phone and textbanker, postcard writer.
      • What will He ask you to do?

Fasting is ordained by God as an intercessory prayer. It is a way to work with him to begin work on a nation. Choose a way to fast and think fasting weekly. It matters.

Silence

You have probably experienced this feeling during the current national crises: There are just no words, no fastings, no actions that can be done. You feel overwhelmed and grieved.

All we can do is just bring our nation before God and sit in silence (look up Romans 8:26). That is prayer for the nation: When all we can do is simply be with God in our grief and concern.

  • Fortunately, God does not need your words. 
  • Sometimes when we are quiet long enough, we come to understand God’s thoughts and find that we feel moved to do something or pray some way. 
  • Try, over time, sitting for 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes then 20 minutes. 

Any silent prayer you pray with God matters. 

Tongues

Some of us pray in tongues when we do not know how to pray. If you pray in tongues, this is a very good time to be praying this way. It matters.

Book of Common Prayer

This is a traditional book of prayer. You can join saints of old by praying intercessory prayers from this book. Here is an example with Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.

Rosary

For those who pray rosary, this can be done as intercession. Here is a post that explains.

Repentance

Repentance is an action prayer for all Christians as part of a healthy lifestyle. (In my counseling practice I say, “Own your own garbage, so it can heal.”) When we are practicing repentance, we open our hearts fully to be available to God for doing things HIS way.

  • Repentance is part of II Chronicles 7:14. 
    • Believers must turn from their own wicked ways. 
    • One wicked way of many American Christians is grasping steadfastly to the “single issue” vote, meaning that we only vote Republican because only the Republicans say they will legislate out abortion.
    • What’s wicked about that? 
      • Republicans have been telling us that since 1980. They have done nothing and do not intend to do anything!
      • If they did, we would not need to vote for a party that has shown itself proud to produce a president of such mocking, greedy, divisive, racist, lustful, traitorous behavior as the one they produced and now is driving our nation to the brink of autocracy.
      • The wickedness is facing our own denial and laziness. If we truly repented and humbled ourselves before God, we would find Him directing us to Isaiah 58. 
      • IF we Christians lived those verses, there would be little need for abortion. People’s needs would be met, body and soul.
      • Instead, we Christians have practiced laziness as we elect Republicans then sit back, hoarding our good things and our comfortable lives, while we expect them to pass laws that will do what we have been instructed to do in Scripture. Those laws do not come.

These are a few ways to truly pray for our nation. I suggest we Christians get busy at it. Our democracy hangs in the balance. God will still be here on earth if we hand over our nation to disintegration…but what will we say to Him?

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