Don’t Pray for America?
Eleven years ago, Jack published an article titled, Don’t Pray for America. And with so many calls to prayer in the US, many of you have asked me, how do we pray? When he wrote the article, Jack had noticed a growing issue in American Christianity that elevated the status of our nation (and ourselves as its citizens) and became a new thing, removed from the heart of Christ, and ripe for exploitation from the enemy. It has only grown more fierce since then.
Quick links to the other parts this week:
Many were teaching that America is God’s nation, that its founding was God’s idea, that God was behind the rebellion that led to the Revolutionary War, that God loves freedom and therefore wanted to create this nation. And ultimately that we are God’s chosen nation and God’s chosen people. You will find no support of this in scripture, and you’ll, in fact, find the opposite. In addition, its freedom is perverted, keeping many in chains, looking to human systems for freedom instead of Christ, with man taking the place of God as the one who brings freedom. The freedom God gives isn’t bestowed by a nation, and believing so is dangerous. It is Jesus who sets us free, and this is available to all who will accept it. But it is found only in Him.
In his article, Jack encouraged us to cast down the false idol of nationalism, where we have exalted our nation, and convinced ourselves that God has too. And instead to pray for believers, that we would rise up and be the body of Christ to a hurting and dying world. And that we would look up for our salvation, excitedly awaiting His coming, instead of praying for our lives to get better here. When he published it, thousands of our readers from outside the US wrote in gratitude. They, of course, already saw this and were concerned. For it’s always easier to see from a distance what is obscured when you’re too close. It’s time for us to be the body of Christ together, without borders.
The hubris in our nation is thinking God is on our side. The belief that fallen men created a political system, and political parties, and that God chooses one of them. Jack points out in this article that God doesn’t take sides. He is a side. And we are either on His, or we are on the side of the enemy. And anything that leaves love behind, puffs up with pride, and forgets that our citizenship is in heaven is not God’s side. I remember being so shocked when the majority of the other teaching websites who posted Jack’s studies wouldn’t post an article titled Don’t Pray for America. They depend on their readers for their livelihood and they couldn’t risk upsetting them, several explained to Jack. Jack wasn’t surprised. He knew better than I did how the nation worked. But isn’t it good to be patriotic and love your nation, some ask? Anything, even good things,(especially good things!) that come before Jesus in our hearts makes us unworthy of Him. (Matthew 10:37) The joy of this ministry, is that not only do we depend only on the Lord, but that He’s also brought us people who have His heart. Jack wouldn’t have feared posting the article, because He only looked to please the Lord, but also, he wouldn’t have needed to worry, because our people have always been those who seek God, and aren’t just looking for what their itching ears want to hear. It’s so easy though, for us to have blind spots, areas we can’t see unless the Lord or someone on the outside points them out.
So let’s focus instead on what Jack called us to over a decade ago. Let’s pray for the Church to rise up and be the body of Christ. Let’s humble ourselves and get on God’s side.
We live in a world at war, and we are called to fight
First, let’s orient ourselves with this reminder: we live in a world at war. Things are not what they seem, and it’s so very easy to get caught up in the chaos, fear, and division of the natural world. Looking around, I see chaos in every corner. But behind this, all around us, swirls the war of the spiritual. Everything is spiritual to those who follow Jesus. He took the sin of the world and triumphed over darkness at the cross. He was raised and seated at the right hand of the Father, and given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18-20). Then Jesus gave us authority. (Luke 10:19) And we are seated there with Him, at the right hand of the Father. (Ephesians 2:6)
I know you know all of this. But let’s remember together. In this world, we do not struggle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. We are commanded to put on the armor of God so we will be able to stand our ground against evil. (Ephesians 6:10-17) We have an enemy whose goal is to kill, steal, and destroy (Luke 10:10). But we do not wage war as the world does. We have spiritual weapons with divine power to demolish strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) It’s our job to demolish them.
And good news! We have been rescued out of the dominion of darkness and brought into the kingdom of the Son (Colossians 1:13). This holy, beautiful kingdom where love trumps everything (1 Corinthians 13:13) where the first shall be last, where we do good to those who hate us, where the leaders serve those at society’s bottom, and where both neighbors and enemies are loved. In this kingdom, giving out of our lack excites our King more than the rich giving out of abundance. In this kingdom, it is the humble who are exalted, the weak who are strong, and the poor who are rich. Where we forgive over and over and over, knowing we have already been forgiven much more ourselves. In this Kingdom, suffering brings glory, and the earth isn’t given to the powerful oppressors, but the meek who will inherit. In this kingdom, if we’re forced to walk a mile, we’ll walk two, in love.
No one would actually mistake America for the kingdom of God, not during any of its history. The kingdom of God isn’t a democracy. The people do not rule. It is not by the people, of the people, or for the people. We are submitted to our King. But if we wanted (and we do!) to transform ourselves, our families, our communities, and our nations, there is no better place to begin than on our knees. It is essential. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. It’s time for us to use the time we have and start being the capital C Church. The body of Christ. Ambassadors called to bring His good news, to love and give and serve. To humble ourselves. It’s time to lift our eyes and remember where our help comes from. Our trust is not in chariots or horses. It’s not in our borders or our government. Our trust is in Christ alone. And it’s time to pray like we believe it. So we pray for the body of believers, to fight together on our knees.
I’ve always held onto Ephesians 1:15-23 as a prayer for myself and those the Lord has me praying for. But as I’ve been praying throughout this hard season, the Lord brought me to another passage to pray. And so, in addition, I’ve been praying another of Paul’s prayers. I think the prayer for endurance and patience is especially important right now:
We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:9-13)
Remember Who we are and Whose we are
Only let us live up to what we have already attained! (Philippians 3:16) God has made us a new creation, holy and blameless in His sight. He has seated us with Christ at His right hand, we are His heirs, royalty, kings, and priests. We are Christ’s ambassadors. It’s up to us to show how life in the Kingdom works. We’ve been given more than we can possibly imagine, in a love relationship with our Lord, that daily takes my breath away. Jack used to say, blessed are those who have been given everything, for they don’t have to sweat anything. That’s us! We have been given everything. We live from the victory of Christ. And it’s our job to both bring His love to those around us, and to enforce His will in the spiritual realm. We love our neighbor and we fight on our knees. It has never been more important to do these two things well than right now. We are here for such a time as this, and Church, it’s time we step up and take the authority we have over evil and the mandate we have to love. We don’t fight for victory. We fight from victory. Jack would remind us that we are promised two things in this life: battles and victories.
2020 has been rough. So much loss, so much grief, so much division, and so much overwhelming need created by economies on pause. The human heart wasn’t made to process the grief of people far and wide. But in the midst, God is at work! In the margins, the poor are being introduced to the Lover of their souls. The hungry are being fed. There are people being transformed in the love of Jesus. As you’ve seen in our weekly outreach posts, the Lord has brought so much healing and redemption in the midst of all this. And as I’ve found to be true daily since the end of 2015, there is no better way to rise out of grief (and fear, and apathy, and everything, really ) than bringing God’s love and provision to those in need.
How to pray in this season
In addition to praying Colossians 1 above, let’s pray together:
Father God, we come to You in humility, submitting to Your Lordship in our lives. We consecrate our lives to you. We cast down anything we hold in our lives above Your rightful place. We seek You first, as our Sovereign. Lord, forgive our sins. We repent of the hubris of elevating anything above You. We repent of the injustice and oppression of the least of these. We repent of putting our desires and rights over Your will and Your love. Help us honor others above ourselves, and to sacrifice in love. Be our comfort in suffering. Father, we ask You, beginning in our hearts, to orient us toward You and Your heart. Transform us in Your love. Let us be Your love to all we come in contact with. First in us, Lord. Then in our families, then our communities, and then our nations. Let the world know us by our love. Let us rise up, as the united Body of Christ fulfilling Your will in our areas of influence. Bringing Your will on earth as it is in heaven. Let us lay down the idol of being right, and clothe ourselves in humility, in Your love, Your grace, and Your compassion. Fill us up to overflowing with Your love, that it flows onto all around us. Let us serve, let us forgive, let us love. Let our light shine bright in the darkness. Let our hope be evident to all. Raise up a spirit of intercession among Your Body the whole world over. Let us rise up in unison, praising You and thwarting the work of the evil one. Let us be Your Body, as You intended us to be. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear You. Give us soft hearts to sense what You are doing in our lives and in the lives of those we are near. Let us be on Your side. Fill our hearts with Your peace that surpasses our understanding, and let us bring that peace everywhere we go. Let us take advantage of every opportunity to love, to serve, to sacrifice, for our time is short. Let us bear fruit in every good work, that we do in gratitude and love, not fear or pride, or obligation. Let each of us show forth the fruit of the Spirit, love, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Help us to stay away from the news and social media that brings division and accusation, and instead to spend that time in Your Word and on our knees. Guide us in these days. Make straight our paths. We pray for wisdom and revelation for each of us. We pray for wisdom and revelation for every leader in a position of power over us. Guide their decisions in these unprecedented times. Let them be focused on the good of the people they serve, and not power or riches. Protect us from the virus ravaging the world. From COVID, and prejudice, and lack of love. Provide for our needs each day. Make us rich in every way so that we can be generous on every occasion. We submit this, and all the details of our lives to You, Father. We ask this, in the mighty name of Jesus, and with the power that rose Him from the grave, in the authority He gave us. Amen and amen.
I’m so grateful for every one of you. I’m grateful that those the Lord brings to this ministry are the best of His Body, filled with His love, and focused on His will above all else. Thank you for standing with me in love.
Quick links to the other parts this week: