Wherever we live, we are called to pray for our nation this is not an optional extra, sometimes however circumstances highlight the need for this. Across the wWorld at the moment, nations are in turmoil, other nations are having elections and referendums while still others live under authoritarian and totalitarian regimes and yet the Word of God calls us all to pray for our nation. Paul says to Timothy,
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.
The New International Version. (2011). (1 Ti 2:1–7). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
This is one of the clearest instructions in Scripture that we need to pray for those in authority and if we had only this one command we would have to face the fact that God call us to pray for those in authority over us. What is helpful about this passage is that it gives a gospel reason to pray for those in authority over us. Here is a seamless link between the gospel and social concern. But it is not good enough to know we have to pray but we must also look at some of the attitudes and motives that underlie this command.
We need a God Centred approach. When the Lord Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he showed them that God was to be honoured over all others and we are to seek his kingdom, We need to think about the significance of these familiar words,
‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
The New International Version. (2011). (Mt 6:9–10). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
All true prayer starts with a reverence for God, we must see that he ios the Lord of all, the almighty one and at the same time he is our loving heavenly Father. Having seen something of his greatness we will want to seek His kingdom and therefore want to see His will done here on earth as it is in heaven. It is easy when we are praying for our nation to start with our agenda, or even our political ideology, instead of this we need to seek god both in prayer and in his word. What does God want should be our big question? It is very easy when opinion is divided in the Church about a matter to get into debates rather than seeking God and his will.
We need to be a people marked by humility. When Solomon prayed to the Lord at the dedication of the temple the Lord answered him using these well-known words,
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
The New International Version. (2011). (2 Ch 7:14). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
The people of God are called to humble themselves and we can see how Daniel does that as he prays for the nation of Israel,
7 “Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. 8 We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, LORD, because we have sinned against you. 9 The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; 10 we have not obeyed the LORD our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. 11 All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you.
“Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you. 12 You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing on us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem. 13 Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. 14 The LORD did not hesitate to bring the disaster on us, for the LORD our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him.
15 “Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong. 16 Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and your wrath from Jerusalem, your city, your holy hill. Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us.
17 “Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. 18 Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. 19 Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”
The New International Version. (2011). (Da 9:7–20). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Daniel identifies with his people, he does not think of himself as superior, the Scripture tells us that Daniel was a righteous man but he identifies with his people. Notice also that he acknowledges the justice of God in his dealings with his people. But Daniel is also aware and very conscious of the covenant promises of God and his nature as a merciful God. We know from chapter 10 that Daniel had an unexpected revelation of the glory of God, he uses words almost identical to those in the Book of Revelation chapter 1. Daniel says,
5 I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. 6 His body was like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.
7 I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; those who were with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. 8 So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. 9 Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground.
The New International Version. (2011). (Da 10:5–9). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
We too need a revelation of the Glory of God, he comes at times in His holy glory and reveals more of himself and we need that so we need to come to him in a Spirit of humble dependency realising that he is the Sovereign Lord.
So Let us seek God in prayer for our nations and for those who rule over us as God commands us to do and may we do so in ways that Honour our God, with true humility of heart and with the expectation that he will hear and answer our prayers.