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How To Pray For America

June 9, 2016

Grace to you! Political season is upon us. It seems we can honestly say that the very foundations of the biblical worldview that made America are under attack. Most Christians realize this and pray for our nation. But why hasn’t God seemingly answered? Can America ever be a morally strong nation again? Biblically speaking, we need to examine how we are praying for our country.

In Isaiah 36 and 37, a very powerful pagan king named Sennacherib came to fight Jerusalem. They had destroyed every nation they had fought and now Israel was next! Sennacherib told Israel’s king, Hezekiah, that the God of the Bible was no different than the other pagan gods he had already defeated (See Isaiah 36:14-20) But as the old saying in the south goes, King Sennacherib “was barking up the wrong tree.” This pagan king had not only threatened God’s people but now he was mocking the living God.

King Hezekiah of Israel knew they did not have enough military strength to stop the Assyrians. So what did he do? Hezekiah took the threatening letter the pagan king sent to him and, “went up to the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD.  And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD.”  (Isaiah 37:14-15) So this was his strategy?! When thousands of armed soldiers and chariots are about to break through the wall and kill everyone, Hezekiah prays?!

But let’s notice his prayer. He does not think solely about his personal safety. Nor is his prayer focus for them to continue their life of ease and pleasure as they had always had before. No, Hezekiah prays a God-centered and God-honoring prayer. “Incline your ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God…So now, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the LORD.” (Isa 37:17, 20) Hezekiah says, “Lord, this pagan king has challenged you. Now, bust his teeth so that he and the rest of the world will know that you are the one true living God.”

How’s that for a politically incorrect prayer?! Hezekiah asks God to break Sennacherib’s power so that God would be known! So how does God reply? The Lord said, “Because you have prayed to me…and because Sennacherib has raged against me and his complacency has come to my ears, I will put my hook in his nose and my bit in his mouth, and I will turn him back on the way by which you came.’ (Isa 37:21, 29) The result? The Lord killed 180,000 soldiers of Sennacherib and then he was murdered by his own two sons (See Isaiah 37:36-38).

When we pray for God to move, do we pray because we want our way of life and our desires protected? In short, are we asking God to protect our creaturely comforts? Or are we concerned that what is happening is eclipsing God’s glory? Are we concerned about our America or the America (or any country for that matter) that should glorify God? One prayer God will ignore, the other God will answer in His own way.

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