Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Praying for the nation

When the 2000 presidential election ended too-close-to-call, and with fate of the election and the nation turning on the battle over the disputed electoral votes of Florida, my wife and I decided it was time to adhere to the scriptural admonition to pray for our leaders and for the nation.

Immediately after election day, we began hosting prayer meetings in our home. An invitation when out to friends, and over the course of the next 35 days, daily meetings for prayer were held, attended by as many as 16 and as few as two. Once the recount drama was over, four of us -- our friends Larry and Cherilyn Larsen, and Margaret and I -- decided to continue to meet weekly to continue praying for the nation. The need for prayer was especially punctunated after the events of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. As of mid-2009, we and the Larsens continue to meet for prayer as often as we can each Sunday evening.

Over the years of getting together, we've learned a lot about prayer. The nature of prayer isn't to recite a wishlist to God and expect Him to dispense answers like a vending machine, but is, primarily, the tuning of one's heart and mind to the heart and mind of God. This can be done through reading and praying the Scriptures. It can also be done by dwelling on what one knows of God's nature and character.

The purpose of prayer, we discovered, is to give voice or articulate what God has impressed on our hearts and minds, to speak His will into a situation, and then in faith expect God to accomplish it. Once God's will is known and expressed, the focus of prayer can be on the process of getting to that known will or end. In other words, to explore what else God wishes to accomplish in the midst of the situation.

What follows are many of the passages of Scripture that God led us to pray on behalf of the nation and the election during the month-long post-election period, and in the months that followed. These Scripture passages were applied to the situation and events in our nation and were claimed both as God's promises and His purpose for our nation, government, and people.

Prayer for the nation

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet, until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, and her salvation like a torch that is burning…On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; all day and all night they will never keep silent. And give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth. – Isa. 62:1, 6-7

The authority of believers to pray for the nations
Let the godly ones exult in glory; Let them sing for joy on their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, And a two-edged sword in their hand, To execute vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, To bind their kings with chains And their nobles with fetters of iron, To execute on them the judgment written; This is an honor for all His godly ones. -- Ps. 149:5-9

And seek the welfare of the city…and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare. -- Jer. 29:7

Endurance/Standing firm in spiritual battle
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. – II Cor. 10:3-5

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. – Eph. 6:10

For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. – Heb. 10:36

God’s sovereignty over nations
All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will worship before Thee. For the kingdom is the Lord's, and He rules over the nations – Ps. 22:27-28

Yes, the LORD sits as King forever. The LORD will give strength to His people; The LORD will bless His people with peace. – Ps. 29:10(b)-11

Let all the earth fear the Lord; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast. The Lord nullifies the council of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation of generation. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord… – Ps. 33:8-12(a)

O clap your hands all peoples; Shout to God with the voice of joy. For the Lord Most High is to be feared, a great King over all the earth. He subdues peoples under us, and nations under our feet…God reigns over the nations, God sits on His holy throne – Ps. 47:1-3, 7-9

God takes His stand in His own congregation; He judges in the midst of the rulers…Arise, O God, judge the earth! For it is Thou who dost possess all the nations. – Ps. 82:1, 8

All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, And they shall glorify Your name. – Ps. 86:9

Sing to the lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His name; Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day. Tell of His glory among the nations;, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples….Say among the nations, "The Lord reigns; Indeed, the world is formally established, it will not be moved; He will judge the peoples with equity. – Ps. 96:1-4, 10

The Lord is at Thy right hand; He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath. He will judge among the nations, He will fill them with corpses, He will shatter the chief men over a broad country. – Ps. 110:5-6

Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain. – Ps. 127:1

Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth… – Ps. 135:6

The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes. – Prov. 21:1

Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. And it is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings… – Dan. 2:20-21(a)

…Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth… – Rev. 1:5

God upholds, defends, and directs the upright
The Lord judges the peoples…Oh let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous; for the righteous, God tries the hearts and minds. My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart. – Ps. 7:8-10

But the Lord abides forever; He has established His throne for judgment, and He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity. The Lord also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble, and those who know Thy name will put their trust in Thee; For Thou, O Lord, hast not forsaken those who seek Thee. – Ps. 9:7-10

Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven, with the saving strength of His right hand. Some boast in chariots, and some in horse; but we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God. – Ps. 20:6-7

O Lord, in Thy strength the king will be glad, and in Thy salvation how greatly will he rejoice…For the king trusts in the Lord, and through the lovingkindness of the Most High he will not be shaken. – Ps. 21:1, 7

Good and upright is the LORD; Therefore He instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in justice, And He teaches the humble His way. All the paths of the LORD are lovingkindness and truth To those who keep His covenant and His testimonies….Who is the man who fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way he should choose. His soul will abide in prosperity, And his descendants will inherit the land. The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him, And He will make them know His covenant. – Ps. 25:8-10, 12-14

Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield…Let Your lovingkindness, O LORD, be upon us, According as we have hoped in You. – Ps. 33:20, 22

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. The people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance. – Ps. 33:12

The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and His ears are open to their cry. The face of the LORD is against evildoers, To cut off the memory of them from the earth. – Ps. 34:15-16

Your lovingkindness, O LORD, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; Your judgments are like a great deep. O LORD, You preserve man and beast. How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house; And You give them to drink of the river of Your delights. For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light. O continue Your lovingkindness to those who know You, And Your righteousness to the upright in heart. Let not the foot of pride come upon me, And let not the hand of the wicked drive me away. There the doers of iniquity have fallen; They have been thrust down and cannot rise. – Ps. 36:5-12

Fret not yourself because of evildoers, be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass, and fade like the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it. – Ps. 37:1-5

God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us -- that Thy way may be known on the earth, Thy salvation among all nations. Let the peoples praise Thee, O God; Let all the peoples praise Thee. Let the nations be glad and sing for joy; For Thou wilt judge the peoples with uprighteous, and guide the nations on the earth. – Ps. 67:1-4

Show me a sign for good, That those who hate me may see it and be ashamed; Because You, O LORD, have helped me and comforted me. – Ps. 86:17

Praise the LORD! How blessed is the man who fears the LORD, Who greatly delights in His commandments. His descendants will be mighty on earth; The generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in his house, And his righteousness endures forever. Light arises in the darkness for the upright; He is gracious and compassionate and righteous. It is well with the man who is gracious and lends; He will maintain his cause in judgment. – Ps. 112:1-5

For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, Guarding the paths of justice, And He preserves the way of His godly ones. Then you will discern righteousness and justice And equity and every good course. – Prov. 2:6-9

"By me [wisdom] kings reign, and rulers decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, all who judge rightly." – Prov. 8:15-16

It is an abomination for kings to commit wickedess, for a throne is established on righteousness. – Prov. 16:12

A king who sits on the throne of justice disperses all evil with his eyes…Loyalty and truth preserves the king, and he upholds his throne by righteousness. – Prov. 20:8, 28

"No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their vindication is from Me,'' declares the LORD. – Isa. 54:17

Righteousness blesses a nation/Unrighteousness is a curse
When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, and when the wicked perish, thre is glad shouting. By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is torn down. – Prov. 11:10-11

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people. – Prov. 14:34

Re: False idols of a nation
Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation. – Ps. 146:3
Reliance upon numbers:
The king is not saved by a mighty army; A warrior is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a false hope for victory; Nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength. – Ps. 33:16-17

Re: Politicians who rule by schemes and deceit/And protection against them
For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; No evil dwells with You. The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity. You destroy those who speak falsehood; The LORD abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit….There is nothing reliable in what they say; Their inward part is destruction itself. Their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue. Hold them guilty, O God; By their own devices let them fall! In the multitude of their transgressions thrust them out, for they are rebellious against You. – Ps. 5:4-6,

Do not slay them, or my people will forget; Scatter them by Your power, and bring them down, O Lord, our shield. On account of the sin of their mouth and the words of their lips, let them even be caught in their pride, And on account of curses and lies which hey utter. Destroy them in wrath, destroy them that they may be no more; That men may know that God rules in Jacob To the ends of the earth. – Ps. 59:11-13

Hide me from the secret counsel of evildoers, from the tumult of those who do iniquity,
who have sharpened their tongue like a sword. They aimed bitter speech as their arrow,
To shoot from concealment at the blameless; Suddenly they shoot at him, and do not fear.
They hold fast to themselves an evil purpose; They talk of laying snares secretly; They say, "Who can see them?'' They devise injustices, saying, "We are ready with a well-conceived plot''; For the inward thought and the heart of a man are deep. But God will shoot at them with an arrow; Suddenly they will be wounded. So they will make him stumble; Their own tongue is against them; All who see them will shake the head. Then all men will fear, And they will declare the work of God, And will consider what He has
done. The righteous man will be glad in the LORD and will take refuge in Him; And all the upright in heart will glory. – Ps. 64:2-10

When I select an appointed time, it is I who judge with equity. The earth and all who dwell in it melt; it is I who have firmly set its pillars. I said to the boastful, “Do not boast,” and to the wicked, “Do not lift up the horn; do not lift up your horn on high, do not speak with insolent pride”…But God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another… And all the horns of the wicked He will cut off, but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up. – Ps. 75:2-5, 7, 10

How long shall the wicked, O LORD, How long shall the wicked exult? They pour forth words, they speak arrogantly; All who do wickedness vaunt themselves. They crush Your people, O LORD, And afflict Your heritage. They slay the widow and the stranger And murder the orphans. They have said, "" The LORD does not see, Nor does the God of Jacob pay heed.''….If the LORD had not been my help, My soul would soon have dwelt in the abode of silence. If I should say, "" My foot has slipped,'' Your lovingkindness, O LORD, will hold me up. When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul. Can a throne of destruction be allied with You, One which devises mischief by decree? They band themselves together against the life of the righteous And condemn the innocent to death. But the LORD has been my stronghold, And my God the rock of my refuge. He has brought back their wickedness upon them And will destroy them in their evil; The LORD our God will destroy them.– Ps. 94:3-7; 17-23

Had it not been the LORD who was on our side when men rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us alive, when their anger was kindled against us; Then the waters would have engulfed us, the stream would have swept over our soul; Then the raging waters would have swept over our soul. Blessed be the LORD, Who has not given us to be torn by their teeth. Our soul has escaped as a bird out of the snare of the trapper; The snare is broken and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. – Ps. 124:2-8

For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest upon the land of the righteous, So that the righteous will not put forth their hands to do wrong. Do good, O LORD, to those who are good And to those who are upright in their hearts. But as for those who turn aside to their crooked ways, The LORD will lead them away with the doers of iniquity. Peace be upon Israel. – Ps. 125:3-5

O God the Lord, the strength of my salvation, Thou hast covered my head in the day of battle. Do not grant, O Lord, the desires of the wicked; do not promote his evil device, lest they be exalted. – Ps. 140:7-8

Do not enter the path of the wicked and do not proceed in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not pass by it; Turn away from it and pass on. (i.e., don't emulate or imitate your opponents.) For they cannot sleep unless they do evil; And they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone stumble. For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence. But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day. The way of the wicked is like darkness; They do not know over what they stumble. – Prov. 4:14-19

A worthless person, a wicked man, is the one who walks with a false mouth, who winks with his eyes, who signals with his feet, who points with his fingers; Who with perversity in his heart devises evil continually, who spreads strife. Therefore his calamity will come suddenly; Instantly he will be broken, and there will be no healing. – Prov. 6:12-15

One who plans to do evil, Men will call a schemer. The devising of folly is sin, And the scoffer is an abomination to men. Do not fret because of evildoers Or be envious of the wicked; For there will be no future for the evil man; The lamp of the wicked will be put out. – Prov. 24:8-9, 19-20

When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, But when a wicked man rules, people groan….The king gives stability to the land by justice, But a man who takes bribes overthrows it….If a ruler pays attention to falsehood, All his ministers become wicked. – Prov. 29:2, 4, 12

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and clever in their own sight!…Who justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away the rights of the ones who are in the right! – Isa. 5:20-21, 23

Thus I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud, and abase the haughtiness of the ruthless. – Isa. 13:11

Re: Political pundits (spinners/media)
Words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious, while the lips of a fool consume him; the beginning of his talking is folly, and the end of it is wicked madness. Yet the fool multiplies words. – Eccl. 10:12-14(a)

Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man? The lovingkindness of God endures all day long. Your tongue devises destruction, Like a sharp razor, O worker of deceit. You love evil more than good, Falsehood more than speaking what is right. You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue. But God will break you down forever; He will snatch you up and tear you away from your tent, And uproot you from the land of the living. – Ps. 52:1-5

In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me? All day long they distort my words; All their thoughts are against me for evil….Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call; This I know, that God is for me. – Ps. 56:4-5, 9

Do not be gracious to any who are treacherous in iniquity. They return at evening, they howl like a dog, And go around the city. Behold, they belch forth with their mouth; Swords are in their lips, For, they say, "Who hears?'' – Ps. 59:5(b)-7

A wicked messenger falls into adversity, but a faithful envoy brings healing. – Prov. 13:17

A false witness will perish, but the man who listens to the truth will speak forever. – Prov. 21:28

If you have been foolish in exalting yourself or if you have plotted evil, put your hand on your mouth. – Prov. 30:32

Therefore, thus says the Lord God, “Because you have spoken falsehood and seen a lie, therefore, behold, I am against you,” declares the Lord. – Eze. 13:8

Re: A partial judiciary
A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight. – Prov. 11:1

To show partiality to the wicked is not good, nor to thrust aside the righteous in judgment. – Prov. 18:5

To show partiality in judgment is not good. He who says to the wicked, "You are righteous,'' peoples will curse him, nations will abhor him. -- Prov. 24:23(b)-24

Woe to those who enact evil statutes, and to those who constantly record unjust decisions… -- Isa. 10:1

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