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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 200,000 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 death 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?

My Story of Learning to Live My Faith

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I am pro-life. 

Let me tell you a story couple of stories.

As I was a young mom with two tiny sons, I understood the value of human life and my heart wept for the millions of babies being eliminated by abortion since Roe v. Wade. I prayed about it daily. 

Then one day, my church decided to join with other churches and picket across the street from the local abortion clinic in my hometown in Florida. As I was marching past the the clinic’s entrance, I felt the presence of God (really) instruct me: “You won’t convince any of these women by being against.”

It was the last protest-against anything I ever did.

But I was still praying for those babies. Then in the 1980s, the Republicans noticed how many pro-lifers there were…

Back in those days, if you were born in the South you were born a Democrat. (This was a vestige of the Civil War, when those darn Republicans under Abe Lincoln…well, you know…)

But somewhere in the early 1980s, the Republicans got gutsy and decided to recruit Southern pro-lifers. They started sending spokesmen to our churches. They made us pro-lifers a promise: “If you switch parties and vote Republican, we’ll do something about abortion. You simply need to commit to becoming ‘single-issue’ (abortion) voters.”

So, en masse, right in our church auditoriums, we filled out the “Change Party” forms and became Republicans. Then we sat back to wait and watch as the Republicans kept their promise to end abortion. It was a pretty good deal for us. We didn’t have to make all the ruckus or march anymore, we had the Republican legislators who promised head to DC and pass a law and end all the abortions. We could relax and let the Republicans keep their promise; all we had to do was maintain our commitment to being single-issue voters.

That was almost 40 years ago. Now tell me, what has changed?

Roe v. Wade is still in place.

For decades, I kept saying to myself, “But the Republicans have told us, ‘Keep being single-issue voters! We’ve got this.”

Then in 2016, I had another feel-the-presence-of-God-instructing-me-moment: I realized that I would never see anything done about abortion by the Republicans, because IF they did do something, they would loose their “single-issue” that kept us voting for them. 

In fact, the only real thing they did about abortion is: right before elections, they would flood social media with pictures of aborted babies. That would get all us Evangelicals riled up and remind us that we are single-issue voters!

I also realized that the true reason that abortion was not being stopped is because Christians:

  1. are sitting back and expecting the problem to be legislated away rather than living lives of prayer and repentance according to 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
  2. (and more importantly) are so busy being “against abortion” that they couldn’t do anything to fix the things in the culture that drove women to that option.

I then realized if I wanted to see the problem change, I had to be part of the change. That meant I am led by God to:

  • Work to help change the wicked and systemic entrapment of poverty and racial injustice and align myself with Scriptural teachings in James 2: 15-17 
    • If a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.KJV
  • Work to make sure that every baby born has access to healthy food, medical care, clothing, good housing, good education, safety and support to align myself with Jesus’ clear teaching 
    • “I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me…since you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me…” Matthew 25 KJV
  • Work to change a culture that objectifies human bodies, whether it is women as sex objects or people of color as second-class citizens. To align myself with God who so loved the world and in whom there is neither male nor female nor race. 
    • Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.KJV
  • Work to influence people of faith to walk in the fruit of the Spirit, that people would know we are Christians by our love. 
    • Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. I John 4:7-8 
    • The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. Galatians 5:22-23 KJV
    • (Recently when I was talking about walking by love and in the fruit of the Spirit, a friend tried to point out to me that Jesus himself was vocally and violently against some people. I responded, and rightly so, that the people that Jesus was against were the hypocrites in church leadership and business people conducting business in the church building, which was meant for prayer not selling.)
  • Praying daily according II Chronicles 7:14 and I Timothy 2.
    • 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
    • Notice who is doing the work here: Christians! They are:
      • humbling themselves
      • praying
      • seeking God’s face
      • turning from THEIR OWN wicked ways (not telling folks who don’t know God about their wicked ways)

I will not judge (lest I be judged) if a person thinks differently than me, but I will work to make to world so good a place that all women and children, no matter their race, creed or color, have a life of love, safety, security, possibilities and respect.

I realized that NO political party was going to do the work for me. That was mine, and every Christian’s, to do.

However, as a US citizen, it is my duty to vote and to hold my government accountable. So I asked myself, which party appears to be working to fix the roots in our society which make abortions necessary. It is not the Republicans, who repeatedly show they have more interest in the security of big business than in helping babies once they are born. 

Democrats created legislation to deal with poverty, spoke up about racial injustice, worked to shore up and expand medical care, food, housing, education and safety programs and at least had many women (of all colors) running for office.

So they are at least trying to fix the deep, societal problems that we Christians have largely ignored since the foundation of our nation.

So I switched parties. I will vote for people who are willing to change the cultural woes that feed the abortion issues.

I was discussing this with an Evangelical acquaintance recently. She said to me, “Don’t you realize that the Democrats and deep state are trying to snuff Christianity out? If Democrats lead the country they will turn us into communists and outlaw our faith!”

Do you know what I replied? I told her:

“Republicans have been telling us this same thing since the 1980s when they came into our churches and converted us all into Republicans. They threatened that if we didn’t keep to the single issue voting and let Democrats gain any power, they would: outlaw Christianity, they would lock us in jail, they would outlaw the Bible and religious broadcasting. It’s been 40 years and no one has managed any of that yet…because they have better things to do…”

And then I continued to tell her this:

“BESIDES, Jesus himself said, ‘Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake.’ (Matthew 5: 10-11) Want to be like Jesus? Want to be blessed? Be so righteous and loving that you get persecuted!”

So this is why I am now living with all I have to pray and work as Christ instructed me to work. I will do my part in works and prayer to make the world so good that abortion is simply forgotten and people are drawn to God by the goodness that they see.

I am pro-life. I am pro-unborn babies, I am pro-people who have experienced injustice because of their black or brown skin. I am pro-people who never had a chance to have a safe or decent life. I am pro-anyone who will walk in the fruit of the Spirit and love of God. I am pro-life.

Let Your Light so Shine

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Let your light shine among others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

When I was young and I heard that verse, very often I was told that that verse was about evangelizing. But no, it is about us glorifying God by doing good deeds.

When we do good things among other people, when we make other people’s lives better, when people see us as creators of good in this broken world…they see it and glorify God.

In the end, isn’t that what we want?

When we stand before God at the end of time, do we want to hear him say:

“Well, you really kicked some butt down there on earth during that pandemic. You really showed ’em and told ’em about your Christian freedom! I bet those wussy American snowflakes won’t ever forget you!”

Is that even his character?

Or maybe would it be more in line with God’s character (and Scripture- particularly John 13:35) to want to hear him say:

“Well done. You have shown you are my disciples by loving one another.”

I am so thankful every time I read about:

  • Someone who has smiled and said thank you to a cashier at the grocery store or a delivery person.
  • Someone who gave extra to charities who are feeding the less fortunate.
  • The good-deed doers who secretly leave packages with supplies and treats on the porches of the elderly members of their congregation.
  • Someone who sent money to supply PPE to rural hospitals, Native American reservations and clinics.

People can see these good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven.

How much better to be known as a person who glorifies God than someone who glorifies what they want.

In the end, isn’t that what we want?

How to Pray for Our Nation

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I’ve been asked to give a primer of sorts on how to pray for our nation. So I’ll share the way I pray.

As you know, God did not format the Bible as a textbook. We must depend on the Holy Spirit to guide us in our prayer. Thus, I am sharing how I pray, but you may be called to pray otherwise.

If you’d like to join my Facebook group where we pray for the nation, here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/553733668413863/

That said, let’s get started.

Guiding Scriptures

I prefer to have Scriptures as guides for prayer. When praying for the United States, I am guided by I Timothy 2: 1-2 and II Chronicles 7:14.

I Timothy 2: 1-2

I exhort, therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, 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)

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 forgive their sins, and heal their land. (KJV)

Using the Scriptures as Prayer Guides

When I have my daily prayer for the nation, I start with a moment of reflection based on II Chronicles 7:14. If you notice, when God is giving instruction on how He wants to go about healing a nation, He doesn’t start with fixing the godless. He starts with fixing His own people.

Got that? He starts with fixing His own people. Or rather, He starts with calling His people to be willing to get fixed!

Let’s take that in steps:

Step 1: God’s people shall humble themselves.

This is absolute key! How can pray like God wishes if I am not humble?

We know that pride goes before a fall, but one of the things I’ve noticed about myself and my fellow believers is that when we think we’ve got the necessary fixes for our nation (or church or friends or family) figured out we easily can fall into pride, stubbornness, and become judgmental.

Generally, when we are operating in pride, stubbornness and being judgmental, we have stepped aside from the place and manner in which God works. Remember: Who are the only people that Jesus called names (“White-washed sepulchers”)? The Pharisees, who knew their Scripture, who prayed and lived the “right way”…and condemned everyone who did did not do things their way.

One way “prayer’s pride” often looks is political partisanship. Please sit with that a moment. If we pray humbly, we can pray about what God is doing and wants done. It will usually look completely different than any particular political party.

Another way “prayer’s pride” often looks is angry accusations of the godless. We know that sin pains God, but may I point out that it tends to be the sin of the godly that pains Him the most. And if you say you have no sin, go read I John 1:8:

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

Step 2: …and pray

Okay, so when I pray for the nation, I insert II Timothy 2:1-2 and do specific prayers for the nation. Let’s look a those:

  1. supplications,
  2. prayers,
  3. intercessions, and
  4. giving of thanks,
  5. be made for all men;
  6. For kings, and
  7. for all that are in authority
  1. Supplications: These are requests. I work to keep my requests free from my (or my political party’s) agenda. So it looks like: Requests for wisdom, humility, fruit of the Spirit, honesty.
  2. Prayers: These are Scriptures I specifically pray for the nation. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you some to pray. The passage I pray for the nation daily is Ephesians 3: 14-21. Basically, I simply read this passage to God and offer it to Him for the nation.
  3. Intercessions: These are “petitions”, specific things I would like for God to handle. Again, I try to keep my own (and my political party’s) agenda out of it. I pray for people in need, cities or regions in need and ask for God’s help.
  4. Giving of thanks: Gratitude is one of the most important prayers that God has given us. He tells us to “give thanks” more than 100 times in the Bible. There is always something going on in our nation, or about our nation, that we can be grateful for.
  5. These 4 prayers need to be prayed for:
  6. All men: Daily I choose a person or people group or organization to offer the 4 prayers for.
  7. Kings: Well, we don’t have a king, but we have a president, so no matter how we feel about him, we have instructions to pray for him.
  8. All who are in authority: I pray for US Congress, US Supreme Court, State Governors, State Legislatures, State Supreme Courts, Local governments, military, police, leaders in churches and organizations I am part of. I rotate, so only do one group daily.

Step 3: and seek my face

II Chronicles 7:14 next instructs us to seek God’s face. For me, that means to sit quietly with Him, with a heart and mind to know and understand His heart and mind. Try it. It usually is not an emotional experience, because this is not about me. It is about me looking towards God; it’s about Him.

Step 4: and turn from my wicked ways

In this part I ask God to help me avoid my flaws and develop the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and self-control). I never outgrow needing to do this.

This is how I pray for our nation. It is not THE way to pray for the nation, but if it helps you develop your way to pray, that’s good.

Don’t Worry: How to Pray for the Nation

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There are so many things to be concerned about, alarmed about and ashamed about in our nation. Trying to follow the news can be overwhelming, depressing, and discouraging. If I may offer you a word of encouragement:

There’s something your can (should) do!

God created humans to NEED to do something when something is wrong. We psychology-type people call this the *need to feel empowered*. Here is ONE simple thing you can do for the overwhelming troubles that you hear about in the news feed:

Don’t worry. Pray for the nation!

When I tell folks that praying for the nation one thing they can do about the greed, disasters, chaos, and corruption in our government, corporation and the world in general, I sometimes get eye-rolls. The idea that prayer for the country is actually efficacious sounds silly and trite.

But listen, if you believe there is a God in the universe, why not pray? If nothing else, it will open you to hearing what actions God has in mind for you regarding the conditions out there.

Could I offer an additional thought: I wonder, if followers of Christ actually took Scriptural instructions seriously and prayed for the nation, might God not say something like: About time they got off their butts and followed my instructions, now I’ll follow through…

Just like when our kids actually do what we tell them to do and they find out that we really do know what we are talking about…we know how things work. God knows how things work: They work on prayer.

So how do you stop worrying and pray for the nation?

Start with understanding we do have mandates to pray for our country. Here are 2 of them:

I Timothy 2:1-2
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

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

Got that? We should pray for:

*All people

*Kings and all in authority

While we pray, we should:

*Humble ourselves

*Seek God’s face

*Turn from our own wicked ways

What should we pray?

There’s not a single right thing to pray for the nation. I personally prefer to pray 2 ways each day:

*A Scripture passage prayed as intercession for our leaders

*A specific prayer for a person or branch of our leadership

Here are some Scripture passages that I pray (I rotate through them one per day). You can create your own way. I challenge you to pray daily, even for those leaders who are despicable to you. Perhaps God will hear from heaven and heal our land. We sorely need it!

Psalm 72: 1-4 (Put into prayer form)

God, give the president (governor, other leader) an understanding of your justice and show your righteousness to his children.

Give him ability to act justly and righteously towards your people and the poor.

Give even the mountains and little hills peace by his righteousness.

Help him to bring justice to the poor of the people, save the children of the needy, and break in pieces the oppressor.

Ephesians 3: 14-21 (put into prayer form)

For my nation’s cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named:

That God would grant us, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in our inner person.

That Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith,

That we being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that we might be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now unto him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, unto him be glory in the church (and nation) by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end, Amen.

Proverbs 11:14 (put to prayer)

God, please give our president (governor, other leader) wise advisors and ability to listen to them, for victory is won through these.

Proverbs 21:1 (put to prayer)

God, please turn the heart of the president (governor, other leader) towards you like a stream of water could be turned by your hand.

Psalm 33: 18 (put to prayer)

God, please work in the president (governor, other leader) to fear you and hope in your mercy, that your eyes may be upon him.

How Would Jesus Treat People?

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I was talking to a precious friend the other day. She was stressed about her job. She was the only evangelical Christian she knew in her position. She was surrounded by coworkers who were not religious and considerably more politically liberal than her.

My friend told me, “I feel persecuted because I have to keep my opinions about gender roles and taking God’s name in vain to myself.”

I asked her if anyone had been unkind to her and she said, “No, not yet.”

Then I asked her how Jesus treated the people who lived sinfully in his day (tax collectors, women caught in adultery).

She quickly responded, “He loved them.”

I asked her, “Who did Jesus call names like ‘white-washed sepulchers’?”

She thought just a few seconds then answered (because she is well-read in Scripture), “The Pharisees.”

“So,” I followed up, “Jesus fussed at the religious leaders, not the sinners?”

“Right, he treated the sinners with love.”

“Then, how might you look at your coworkers who don’t know God and live lifestyles you don’t feel comfortable with?”

“I could love them and treat them kindly. I could let Jesus love them through me!”

“Awesome!” I was happy for her, but followed up with, “What if you get persecuted when someone finds out you are a Christian?”

“Well, I won’t like it, but Jesus said, “blessed are they when they are persecuted for righteousness sake.”

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

My friend was feeling more empowered. Then she paused, looking perplexed. “But the epistles tell us to straighten up when we behave sinfully.”

“And who were the Epistles written to?” I inquired.

We looked: to the church.

Perhaps we Christians can relax a little. Sometimes it is fun to feel like everyone is out to get us. It helps us draw together against a common enemy, but the world is not our enemy. God so LOVED the world.

We need to look at who is the author of that *it’s bad to be persecuted* mentality. If we get angry and upset because people are insulted by our faith, then hooray!

Spiritual Growth, Contemplation and the Real World

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Spiritual Growth, Contemplation and the Real World. How to find God's gift when much of the world has gone mad.

The older one gets, the more one must work to grow (as in continuous growth is a necessity…and it’s hard work). That’s what I am finding.

It applies across the board:

  • If I quit working at physical health, my body will deteriorate.
  • If I quit learning, my mind will deteriorate.
  • If I quit hungering and thirsting after righteousness, my spirit will deteriorate.

Thus, spiritual growth is a mandate. I imagine that spiritual growth will last eternally, not just for my time on earth. I have long wanted to be a mature (or as Paul said it: perfect) Christian. Hopefully I arrive someday.

Here are the ways I am working on my spiritual growth. The easy ones first, then the tough one: Contemplation in the face of the real world…

I seek God’s face.

Where is He showing himself to me today? I look for his handiwork in the world around me. I look for his movement in the people around me. I look for his guidance in my own spirit. Psalm 27:8 says: When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, shall I seek.

I humble myself.

I have a friend remind me once that God is God and I am not. A great fallacy of my job as a counselor is believing that everyone must be healed and whole, that the world must be just and right…and that God needs to follow my plan for making it so. I Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God…

I read God’s word.

Really. God bothered to share his wisdom in the Bible. When I keep myself current in my knowledge of his word, I am less likely to fall for the nonsense that sometimes passes as religious teaching but has nothing to do with what God said. Matthew 4:4…Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

I pray.

Often I pray a formal prayer, like the Lord’s Prayer. Mostly I pray in intercession for my nation, all those in authority, all people- especially those I care about and those who have made themselves my *enemies* (all the more important since I can’t run the universe). II Chronicles 7:14 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 will I hear from heaven and heal their land.

I listen (wait).

It’s easy to be too busy to listen, but I’ve learned he speaks in a still, small voice…even when I’m not listening. The minute I slow down and listen, he is waiting to share his love, wisdom, peace and courage. Psalm 27:14 Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord.

I hunger and thirst for righteousness.

When I’m hungry and thirsty for food, I engage in behaviors that will satisfy that need.When I pay attention to my spirit, there is hunger and thirst for righteousness. Jesus said that I am blessed when I hunger and thirst for righteousness and that I shall be filled (Matthew 5:6).

The behaviors that are just and right for me are: to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God (Micah 6:8). In other words, righteousness for me is doing what is right and merciful towards others (especially those who are weaker or in need) and remembering that God alone gives me the power to do so.

Blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness.

I contemplate.

Currently, the most important way to care for my spirit is contemplation. There are many definitions of contemplation, so I have digested them into: Contemplation is holy noticing. Where ever I am, God is there and is. In him I live and move and have my being. Acts 17:28

When I live contemplatively, I am awake to him and notice what he is doing and being.

That’s huge. Of course it is. It is overwhelming to contemplate an infinite God.

On my latest silent retreat, I found a book that summarized some practices that is helping me grow in contemplative health.

The practices I am working on are from The Rule of Benedict and says that the contemplative life has 4 dimensions:

  1. Recognizing the presence of God in my life. I’m not any better than the prophet Jonah at running from God and I sure don’t want to be ignoring God. I simply need to graciously notice his presence. To do this, I need to ask him daily, “O God, come to my assistance…”.
  2. Accepting the gifts of others. This is easy when the gifts are lovely. However, some *gifts* are the opposite. I am learning to ask God’s assistance in accepting the fact that some others are blind, misguided or hateful. This is a gift to me when I am able to graciously notice those distasteful gifts and without joining the blindness, misguidedness or hatred, then hand it to God. Then I wait for his assistance to handle in mercy and truth the guidance he gives me. (Accepting the gift is important to me in these days, in the real world there is rudeness, greed and hatefulness that are accepted, taught and even glorified. I don’t need to be drawn into the brokenness but can speak the truth in love as God leads, then allow God to tend my heart while hoping for his healing of this broken nation.)
  3. Let go of false expectations in daily life. Step 1 on this is recognizing what a *false expectation in daily life is*! Ugh. But letting go opens me up to the submission to his will, which is the point of it all, anyway.
  4. Receive others kindly. Knowing my limitations, I can accept them. That does not mean to agree with them or kowtow to them. It does mean in the power that grace gives, I can treat them kindly.

Someday, I long to hear: Well done, good and faithful servant.

 

How to Take Time on New Year’s Eve for Reflection

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how to take time on New Year's Eve for reflection VickiTalksPrayer.com (1).jpg

When we think of New Year’s Eve, we often think of:

  • Preparation for a party with friends and family or Watch Night Service at church
  • Creating your new New Year’s Resolutions

That’s good stuff. Here’s another thought that might be personally life-changing. What if you dedicate a few minutes of reflection about the outgoing year and the important things you have experienced or learned?

Spending time in reflection might sound airy-headed, but it I think it is simply a practice of wisdom. How can you truly learn about yourself if you don’t slow down and think about what has happened in life, what is good and not-so-good in yourself (and in life) AND what God is doing?

If we all spend a few minutes thoughtfully reviewing the past year, we might learn something that will help us in the New Year.

Here’s how to take time on New Year’s Eve for reflection:

Choose a block of time that is realistic to you (5 minutes, 15 minutes, 2 hours, whatever is realistic for you).

  • Grab a journal or open a document.
  • Create some heading on things that would be valuable for your reflection:
    • Things you are grateful for this year (large and small)
    • Significant events from this year (wonderful, weird or tragic)
    • Important people in your life this year
    • Challenges you overcame, survived or made progress on this year
    • Successes you experienced this year
    • Good things you have done for others this year (large or small)
    • Ways you have seen God’s hand, support, intervention (or felt His silence, which is also valuable- He means many things by His silence)
    • Questions you have for God and for yourself in the upcoming year

When you are done, you will know yourself and God’s work in and through you better. It might even help you set your New Year’s Resolutions.

New Year's Reflection VickiTalksPrayer.com.jpg

How to Take Time on New Year’s Eve for Reflection

 

A Prayerful Guide to Voting

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A Prayerful Guide to Voting Vicki Talks PrayerLet me just say it: Many Christians are sinful voters.

What on earth am I talking about? Let me explain.

Prayer people like me often love this verse as a foundation for our intercession:

2 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

We intercessors then spend a lot of time praying that God will cause people (particularly non-Christians) to behave righteously.

But can I make a Biblical point? II Chronicles 7:14 says: If MY people.

It’s God’s people who need to turn from their wicked ways. I believe one of our wicked ways is: slothful voting.

Slothfulness is laziness. We Christians are often lazy. We vote what we are told to vote. We have an *assigned party* and we vote party line without ever checking in (and truly seeking his face and listening penitently) with God about His opinions.

I have noticed 4 things:

  1. Each major party has what I call a *golden carrot* that it dangles in front of it’s members to keep them voting with the party. This carrot is powerful and party members believe powerfully about it.
    1. For Republicans the golden carrot is abortion. For 40 years, abortion has been the one reason many people stay with the party. It is the only party that takes a pro-life stand. (I’m pro-life and have been watching this for 40 years.)
    2. For Democrats the golden carrot changes, but each election cycle the carrot is the one reason many people vote with the party. Right now the golden carrot is climate change.
  2. Each major party has no intention whatsoever to actually DO something meaningful about the golden carrot issue. Think about it:
    1. Republican party: Has there been any change toward pro-life legislation in 40 years? 40 years? Nope. Legislators often throw a weak bill into committee just to say they’ve done something or tack a regulation of abortion onto some other random bill knowing it will be dropped or the bill fail. But nothing meaningful.
    2. Democratic party: Is there lasting, powerful legislation about climate or the environment? Not really.
  3. Why is it that the golden carrot issues never get fixed? I believe that if legislators actually take action on these issues and the problem is solved, the *one issue* voters won’t need to stay with the party. Think about it.

This is where our slothfulness as voting Christians comes in.

What if God wants us to tackle these golden carrot issues in a more effective manner? What if the Holy Spirit has wisdom about these issues that we are not learning from Him because we don’t listen. We just vote the party line and forget about it.

You know the AA definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.

Here’s a question that leads into the 4th thing I’ve noticed:

4. God is not a Republican…or a Democrat. He’s God. His ways are not our ways.

What if we voting Christians become praying, seeking God, repenting of our laziness Christians? What if we open our hearts to God’s agenda, whatever that is?

In II Kings 19, King Hezekiah was faced with a hopeless situation. Jerusalem was besieged by the Assyrians who had just sent him a letter with totally non-PC threats of what they were soon going to do the the city’s residents.

Hezekiah had exhausted his options. The situation was hopeless.

So Hezekiah tore his clothes in repentance, took the letter to the temple, spread it out before the Lord and prayed.

This is what God wanted from Hezekiah. God sent the prophet Isaiah to him to let Hezekiah know that God was fed up with the Assyrians. In the morning, the king woke up to the news that an angel of the Lord had slain 185,000 Assyrians during the night and the rest had gone home.

We Americans aren’t in Hezekiah’s situation but we still need God’s help. What if we seek God’s help:

  • To identify what golden carrots are being dangled to manipulate us
  • To learn how God wants to handle the truly pressing issues of the time
  • AND Who God would like us to vote for in this election (it may come as a surprise)

May I encourage you to seek God’s face, pray and turn from any sinful/slothful voting ways? Wouldn’t it be cool if we aligned ourselves with God rather than one party? Let’s see what He will do in our nation.

The World is Not a Better Place

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I’ve been around a long time and learned a lot of things. Here is one thing I have learned recently: The world is not a better place.

I remember when I was a kid that grownups were telling us that each generation of humans were evolving to get better and better. They would say, “Look how much better the world is than back in the pioneer days!”

That generation of adults looked to my generation (the Boomers) with misty eyes, just knowing in their hearts that the wars they had fought and the economic despair of the Depression they had endured would be a thing of the past for our generation, or at least, our kids’ generation.

The adults back then would talk glowingly about how our democracy gets better and better with each generation. They knew that we would live in peace and prosperity. They sacrificed so much to bring the hope of a better world to my generation.

My generation is now nearing the hand-off to the present and future generations. And guess what?

The world is NOT a better place.

The world still is devolved into:

  • Wars and rumors of wars. (My adult kids don’t really remember a time when our nation hasn’t been actively engaged in military conflict.)
  • Hatred and distrust of other races and places. (Think about what it’s like being African-American and not knowing what will happen if you get pulled over for a traffic stop. Or what it’s like to be a Native American who wants clean drinking water and finds corporately funded, militarized *police* standing against their stand. Or to be an immigrant in our unfriendly environment. Or to be Jewish and just want to worship in safety.)
  • Greed, corruption, self-serving-ness in those with power and money. (I don’t have room for the examples…)
  • Egocentrism and lack of courtesy in everyday life.
  • (And lots of other rotten stuff)

The world is not a better place…

…unless you look at the things that may be more true than the evil and the not-better.

It is true there is bad, but it is more true that there are people who take prayer, like I Timothy seriously. They pray.

I Timothy 2:1-2

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

I imagine that in God’s eyes, these prayers are more important than the greed and corruption that perpetuate poverty and hopelessness, the wars and hatred. Maybe in God’s economy, there’s a different *currency* than money?

Maybe what is richness in God’s economy is:

  • Graciousness
  • Courtesy
  • Fruit of the spirit
  • Justice

Maybe *the world being a better place* is not the present goal for God, but us being the better people is most valuable.

Maybe in God’s economy, a few humble, praying people are more valuable than a group of greedy politicians and businessmen who profit from being in power.

The world is not a better place…

…unless you look at behavior that may be more true than the evil and the not-better.

Maybe what is most true is that there are a few people who show grace and courtesy, who live life according to Micah.

Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O Man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

For instance, maybe the gracious act of the young man who courteously gave up his seat for me at an overbooked concert weighs more in God’s kingdom than the 3 young athletes and store employees that pushed in front of me during in my latest grocery store trip. I imagine that in God’s economy, 1 gracious young man is more valuable that 3 rude young people.

God’s economy is SO upside down from ours.

If we become better people, maybe we will seek God’s face before voting for any other greedy, bigoted, self-serving official to any level of government… Maybe God will give us wisdom to vote in wise and good men lead our local communities, states and nation.

2 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

Maybe if we seek God’s face, we will find His grace to live our personal lives justly, mercifully, humbly…more of the world will know grace and courtesy.

I’ve learned a lot of things over the years. One is that the world is not a better place.

But I’ve also learned that God has values and plans that are different than mine and He holds me (and all people) to a high level of accountability. He gives us mandates and we are required to live and act on them. Here are 3 mandates:

I Timothy 2:1-2, Micah 6-8, II Chronicles 7:14 (all quoted above)

I hope I will live closer and closer to that humble, God-seeking person He created me to become. I hope the same for my nation.

I want to choose to live gratefully in this present world because I know the more true world of God’s kingdom. (Even though, I admit it, I wish He’d just go ahead make the world a better place in the way I want…)

Want to pray together for our nation? I started an informal, non-political prayer group on Facebook. Join me? https://www.facebook.com/groups/553733668413863/