Like millions of other Americans, I have been praying for my country as its citizens become more and more divided. This month, a member of my small group told the rest of us about a call for intercessory prayer. She handed out several copies of the accompanying booklet, If We Will…Then He Will: A 50 State Prayer Project. The project began on the first of December with a 31-day preparation period including daily readings from the book of Proverbs. January 1, 2022 will be a day of prayer and fasting, followed by 50 days of prayer and readings from the book of Psalms.
The inspiration for the project is II Chronicles 7:14. After Solomon dedicated the temple, God appeared to him and made a conditional promise.
[I]f 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.II Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)
The people behind the 50-state prayer project have taken God’s promise to Solomon as God’s promise to Christians. God’s plans for the people of the United States may be quite different than God’s plans for the people of Israel. Nevertheless, God promised to hear His people and followers of Christ are His people.
God’s promise to Solomon lists the conditions required to fulfill this promise: humility, prayer, seeking the Lord, repentance. As we prepare our hearts to pray for our country, we must humble ourselves, seek Him, search our own hearts and repent from the sins that separate us from Him.
In addition to II Chronicles 7:14, several days of preparation were spent reflecting on Ephesians 6:10-17:
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not 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. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
As Christians come to the Lord to pray for the souls of America, we should prepare for a spiritual battle with the full armor of God: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shoes fitted with the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation.
When I think about the struggles of our country, it is easy to focus my ire on people who stir up trouble, people who spread lies, people who defame others. But Paul reminds me that the real battle isn’t against flesh and blood; it is against the spiritual forces of evil. Satan wants people to be divided. He is the father of lies.
I have been praying for my country since deep divisions became evident during the Obama administration. I don’t pray as consistently and fervently as I should. Praying with others across the country will add some needed discipline to my prayers.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.James 5:16 (NIV)
Lord, thank you for the wonderful gift of Jesus Christ, my savior. Thank you for the body of believers who have been called to pray. I pray that you will heal this land, a country that desperately needs You. As I prepare to pray with other believers, I pray that You will search my heart and reveal my sins. Help me to stay humble and to keep my eyes on You. I pray for wisdom and discernment. Help me to see others with grace-filled eyes.