On this we all can agree

actsThe atmosphere grows tense almost everywhere when the subject of politics comes up. In two weeks America will choose people to set the course of our towns, states, and nation. At the top of the ballot are two people that provoke strong reactions in us.  “I could never vote for her! She is …” and then comes the long list of objections. “Him? Can you imagine him in the White House?” and another long list of objections.  It is not just policy matters that divide Americans. There are deep personal reactions to the Presidential candidates in this race.

On this we can agree, we need wisdom as we vote.  The election is not just about who will provide more benefits to us. It is about the future, about responding to the ongoing threats of war, about use of resources, about the kind of society we will be. Christian, it should go without saying but I’ll remind us anyway. It is time to pray: real, earnest, heart-felt prayers that seek the wisdom of our God.

Nehemiah heard about the continuing crisis in Jerusalem. Reconstruction efforts were stymied. People were discouraged. The walls of the city were still in ruins after decades of trying to rebuild them. The Temple of God had not been restored for worship and sacrifice. “When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.” (Nehemiah 1:4, NIV) That is a model for us in these times, isn’t it? Perhaps we should talk less and pray more!

His prayer begins with a higher focus. “Then I said: “O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands.” (Nehemiah 1:5, NIV)  When we pray for America, our faith will grow when we kneel in adoration before the Living, Loving Lord who is bigger than the election of 2016!  Nehemiah was hearing a call that he was not naturally equipped to answer – to go and do where so many others had failed. So, he looked up.

He continues with true confession of the sin that caused it all to happen in the first place.  “I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.” (Nehemiah 1:6-7, NIV)  Pointing the finger of blame only deepens the divide. In our prayer for this nation, we need to feel God’s sorrow over the sin of this land – apathy about spiritual matters, greed, hatred, immorality, and selfishness; to name a few. Can you acknowledge your part in failing God? Nehemiah wept! His brokenness was real and he felt the weight of shame and guilt of his people. In his confession, he opened the possibility of forgiveness and change.  Lord, break our heart with what breaks Yours.

Then, he thankfully prays the promises of God“Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’” (Nehemiah 1:8-9, NIV)  I love to pray the Word!  When my prayers are anchored by God’s promises, faith grows. Nehemiah’s prayers about the restoration of Jerusalem were persistent and extended, going on for 6 months. That kind of prayer needs a solid foundation and he found it in the covenant of God.  Christian, we have a covenant, an agreement with God, that Christ Jesus established. We are invited to come to the Throne of Grace to find mercy, not because we are good enough, not because we have accumulated a number of points in Heaven, but because our Great High Priest invites us in!

Finally, he makes his request with specificity.  “O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” (Nehemiah 1:11, NIV)  Nehemiah went on to do amazing things, not only restoring the infrastructure of Jerusalem, but laying the foundation of the renewal of the faith of his people, leading a national spiritual revival!  He acknowledges the source of his success, too. “And because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my requests.” (Nehemiah 2:8, NIV)  After we worship, confess, and renew our hope in His promise, let’s not fail to close the loop by asking God for specific things with confidence.  James teaches us that one of the reasons we do not see God at work is that we fail to ask!  Our God is not obligated to do everything we ask of Him, but He hears every prayer.  A ‘no’ is just as real an answer as a ‘yes.’  May we have the faith to accept what He decrees, but at the same time, we must not slip into apathy about prayer. We hold the power to change the course of history!

So, as this election approaches, let us pray! On that, hopefully, we can all agree.  Regardless of our political persuasion we who love Christ Jesus can come together in humility to pray.

Spend a few moments meditating on this word from the Word. Lord, let faith grow in us, helping us to take hold of the Kingdom and bring Your eternal purposes to our day to day life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

“Jesus said, “What a generation! No sense of God! No focus to your lives! How many times do I have to go over these things? How much longer do I have to put up with this? Bring the boy here.” He ordered the afflicting demon out—and it was out, gone. From that moment on the boy was well. When the disciples had Jesus off to themselves, they asked, “Why couldn’t we throw it out?” “Because you’re not yet taking God seriously,” said Jesus. “The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain, ‘Move!’ and it would move. There is nothing you wouldn’t be able to tackle.” (Matthew 17:17-20, The Message)

______________________

Song For The Nations

May we be a shining light to the nations
A shining light to the peoples of the earth
‘Til the whole world sees the glory of Your name
May Your pure light shine through us

 May we bring a word of hope to the nations
A word of life to the peoples of the earth
‘Til the whole world knows
There’s salvation through Your name
May Your mercy flow through us

 May we be a healing balm to the nations
A healing balm to the peoples of the earth
‘Til the whole world knows
The power of Your name
May Your healing flow through us

 May we sing a song of joy to the nations
A song of praise to the peoples of the earth
‘Til the whole world rings
With the praises of Your name
May Your song be sung through us

 May Your kingdom come to the nations
Your will be done in the peoples of the earth
‘Til the whole world knows
That Jesus Christ is Lord
May Your kingdom come in us

 May Your kingdom come in us
May Your kingdom come on earth

Chris Christensen © 1986 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing (IMI)) CCLI License # 810055

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