How to pray for your nationCarla Harding - 15 Aug 2011
Earthquakes and droughts, revolutions and riots, corruption, war and economic crises; how do we pray in the face of challenge and change? In a year of great upheaval, and even tragedy for many nations, I’ve found myself returning to one question over and over again: how can we pray?
As rioting, violence and looting dominated the headlines here in England last week, it was as natural as breathing to turn in tears to prayer.
“Father – do you see what’s happening? Please, help us… please help our nation...”
It hasn’t always been so easy for me to focus my pain, confusion, hope or fervour toward conversation with God. I’ve spent years feeling utterly intimidated by the challenge of praying for nations. “Surely,” I’ve thought, “that’s the job of those especially gifted people who can talk to you Lord in terribly insightful ways with all the right words, noises and postures. How can little old me add anything of value?”
“What changed?” You may ask… For years now, at midday, I’ve prayed the words Jesus taught His friends. What could have been a dry repetition, has become something of a meditation and a jumping off point…
“Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10
My feeble recitation of this line has felt lacking in the face of national disaster or opportunity; but as I’ve repeated these words my heart has found more…. How do we pray for a nation? Well here’s what I’ve learned so far…
Stop, Look & Listen
When faced with an incident of national proportions, I often feel overwhelmed by the many approaches I could take in prayer. Where to start? It took me some time to learn to shut my mouth and try listening to God first. He’s pretty good at giving direction! As I feel His prompting, my prayer becomes a dance, back and forth, between the Spirit and I. He drops a few hints, I pray down those lines.
Keep it simple
Say what you mean and mean what you say.
“This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply.” Matthew 6:7-8 MSG
Sorry seems to be the hardest word
“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 I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
As we seek God in prayer, let’s search ourselves in humility. Not sure how? Try adapting and praying the words of Psalm 139 over your nation and see what the Spirit brings to mind…
“Search us, God, and know our hearts;
Test us and know our anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in us,
And lead us in the way everlasting.”
Looking for reliable information to help you pray? The best resource I’ve found is Operation World – an amazing prayer guide to every nation on earth. Check it out in multiple formats here.
What does God’s kingdom and will look like? What are we praying for exactly? Whenever I’m uncertain I think positive. Where there’s war, pray peace. Where there’s fear, pray love. Where there’s sickness, pray healing. It may sound simple but it really helps!
Join with others
There’s strength in numbers. Find friends to pray with or unite churches in your area. All Christians can agree that praying to Jesus is a good idea, so multiply your amen.
Pray for your enemies
It’s easy to pray against people damaging your nation but have you ever stopped to pray for them?
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44
What could that person look like if they fell in love with Jesus? Is anyone beyond God’s hope?
Who’s in charge?
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” 1 Timothy 1:1-2
Love them or hate them let’s be praying for the leaders of our nation, but don’t forget church leaders too! If God is moving in their lives it benefits us all.
Why stop now?
Jesus invites us to keep praying and never give up (Luke 11:1-11), so get creative. Last month the 24-7 Prayer movement prayed for North and South Sudan. Many of us spent a day with ‘Sudan’ scrawled across our hands, reminding us to pray. Why not try inviting God to check the news with you? Write the name of a nation or situation that jumps out on your hand, toothbrush or mirror, and get praying for the nations today.
Got a good tip for praying for a nation. Please post your suggestions in the comments below! Want to receive international prayer alerts via twitter? Follow 247Prayer.