Praying for Another Country

I’ve prayed for my country, the United States of America, as it has become increasingly divided over the past decade or so. In January, I joined other Christians in praying for our country for fifty days, using readings from the Psalms as inspiration. Now another country is in my prayers every day and my worries about my own country have receded into the background.

While I was praying for my own country’s democracy, the people of Ukraine had even more reason to worry as Russia prepared to invade their country.

A friend of mine, a journalist in North Carolina, knows a woman from Ukraine, Maia Mikhaluk. When the war began, he started sharing her Facebook posts and I follow her now. She shares her faith, her fears, her joy at the birth of her granddaughter. And interestingly, she also uses the Psalms as prayers for her country.

The war in Ukraine reminds me to put my own country’s challenges in perspective. The U.S. is not the center of the universe! The U.S. shakes and rattles from internal rumblings but the whole world groans!

He’s got the whole world in His hands,
He’s got the whole world in His hands,
He’s got the whole world in His hands,
He’s got the whole world in His hands.

Lord, your praise will always be on my lips. From heaven, You look down and see the struggles of all mankind. I pray that the people of Ukraine will continue to be strong and courageous. You are our hope and shield. Father, you love righteousness and justice! Stop the evils of war. Foil the plans of the wicked. Comfort the suffering. Amen.

https://www.facebook.com/maia.mikhaluk

Prayer for Ukraine

Prayer inspired by Psalms 82-83

Oh Father, do not be silent, do not be still. Enemies are astir, raising their wicked hands against the people of Ukraine. With cunning, they conspire against the people you cherish. They say, let us destroy them as a free nation.

Defend the cause of the weak. Maintain the rights of the people. Deliver them from the hands of the wicked.

May the enemy be tossed like tumbleweed, like chaff before the wind. As fire consumes a forest, pursue the wicked with your tempest and terrify them with your storm.

Father, let Putin know that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.

Amen

Wisdom walk through Proverbs

Today is the last day of preparation for the 50-state prayer project, If We Will – Then He Will. In December, participants read through the book of Proverbs in search of wisdom. Today, the first day of the New Year, we seek God’s guidance for the next 50 days of prayer.

Lord, if I’m going to be a prayer warrior, make me a wise prayer warrior. I seek your wisdom and guidance as I pray for my country.

Knowledge and wisdom

Father, you are the source of wisdom and understanding. Write your word on my heart. I want to hear your voice. I want to follow you. Teach me your ways. Show me your paths.

I confess that I get distressed about the state of this world and I worry about the future. Help me to not be anxious about anything but to put my trust in you. No matter what happens in the coming days and years, I take refuge in you. May your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
    but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (1:7)

For the Lord gives wisdom;
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (2:6)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight (3:5-6)

Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
    but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (19:21)

Every word of God is flawless;
    he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. (30:5)

Fearing the Lord and hating evil

Lord, I hate arrogance, corruption, deception, meanness and greed. Lead me away from the snares of the wicked and deliver me from evil.

Do not set foot on the path of the wicked
    or walk in the way of evildoers. (4:14)

To fear the Lord is to hate evil;
    I hate pride and arrogance,
    evil behavior and perverse speech. (8:13)

The wise fear the Lord and shun evil,
    but a fool is hotheaded and yet feels secure. (14:16)

In the paths of the wicked are snares and pitfalls,
    but those who would preserve their life stay far from them. (22:5)

Envy of the wicked

Father, sometimes I fret when people seem to get away with evil. I know that they will not escape your justice. They have no hope. When I am tempted to envy them, remind me that my treasure is in heaven.

Do not let your heart envy sinners,
    but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord. (23:17)

Do not envy the wicked,
    do not desire their company;
for their hearts plot violence,
    and their lips talk about making trouble. (24:1-2)

Do not fret because of evildoers
    or be envious of the wicked,
for the evildoer has no future hope,
    and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out. (24:19-20)

Evildoers do not understand what is right,
    but those who seek the Lord understand it fully. (28:5)

Testing the heart

Lord, test my heart and show me the offensive ways you find in me. Father, I am your child and I submit myself to your discipline. Help me to be honest about my own sins and to have pure motives, to focus on the log in my own eye and not on the speck in my brother’s eye.

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
    but whoever hates correction is stupid. (12:1)

All a person’s ways seem pure to them,
    but motives are weighed by the Lord. (16:2)

A rebuke impresses a discerning person
    more than a hundred lashes a fool. (17:10)

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
    but the Lord tests the heart. (17:3)

Lying lips and foolish tongues

Lord, help me to be trustworthy and to testify to your truth. The tongue is small but it can do so much damage, as I know too well. Help me to watch my tongue. May the words of my mouth be pleasing to you.

The Lord detests lying lips,
    but he delights in people who are trustworthy. (12:22)

Sin is not ended by multiplying words,
    but the prudent hold their tongues. (10:19)

A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride,
    but the lips of the wise protect them. (14:3)

Humility

Lord, I fall so short of your glory. Too often, I fail to be the loving person you want me to be. There is so much that I do not know. Help me to be humble.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
    but with humility comes wisdom. (11:2)

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. (16:18)

Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life. (22:4)

Justice and mercy

Lord, I know what it is to be poor and I am thankful for those who had mercy on me. Whatever I do for the poor, I do for you, our Maker. Help me to act justly and to love mercy.

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord,
    and he will reward them for what they have done. (19:17)

Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor
    will also cry out and not be answered. (21:13)

The righteous care about justice for the poor,
    but the wicked have no such concern. (29:7)

Watch your temper

Father, forgive me for the times I have lost my temper. I know there is danger in anger. Help me to be calm, forgiving, and patient with others. Where there is discord, may I sow peace

Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person,
    do not associate with one easily angered,
or you may learn their ways
    and get yourself ensnared. (22:24-24)

Fools give full vent to their rage,
    but the wise bring calm in the end. (29:11)

An angry person stirs up conflict,
    and a hot-tempered person commits many sins. (29:22)

Lord Jesus, my heart belongs to you. Guard my heart and help me to love others as you love me. As water reflects the face, may my life reflect your heart. May I reflect your love in all I say and do.

Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it. (4:23)

As water reflects the face,
    so one’s life reflects the heart. (27:19)

The 50 State Prayer Project

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.

If we will… then He will

Shamelessly Audacious

When he sees me writing, my husband often asks: ‘Are you writing about me’? My answer is always ‘No’ but today the answer would have been ‘Yes, I am.’ I am writing about him because a sermon on Luke 11 reminded me to be persistent in my prayers for him. And not just persistent. My pastor used the words shamelessly audacious.

Which of you has a friend and shall go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine on his journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give you anything’?

Luke 11:5-7

The friend may not give him anything just because he is a friend but because of his impudence he will rise up and give him whatever he needs.

An image that comes to my mind when I hear ‘persistent’ is a toddler tugging on his mother’s shirt, trying to get her attention. She does her best to ignore him but he keeps on tugging. With each pull he says, ‘pay attention to me. I want something. I’m going to keep tugging until you look down and listen to me.’

Father, I know that it is shamelessly audacious of me to come to you again and again asking you to save my husband. I have no right to ask you to redeem him. I knowingly married a non-believer. We are unequally yoked. You knew the path I would take in life before I took my first steps. You know my heart and you know his. You know why he resists. You know how to get through to him. Don’t let me be a stumbling block before him. Show him that he needs You. I ask because you love me and I know you love him too. Save my husband.

So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Luke 11:9-10 (NIV)