A Renewed Challenge to Pray for America: The Role of Repentance

“But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent” (Revelation 2:4-5).

The main message from God to nations seems to be “repent.” That can be a difficult concept for us to comprehend. We know the importance of repentance to an individual. As my friend, Richard Owen Roberts, writes, “Repentance is the first word of the gospel.” When those gathered in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost heard the first gospel message from Peter and asked how they might be saved, Peter’s response was, “Repent and be baptized.” We also know how important it is for believers to walk in repentance as we are made aware of our sin.

But why should a nation repent? And how do we repent as a nation? The spiritual principle appears to be that God only puts up with national sin for a season, and then calls a nation to repent and turn from its sin. For those nations that do not know God, that season may last for even hundreds of years. For nations who have been blessed with a knowledge of God’s ways, that season of forbearance is much shorter. He expects those who know Him to turn more quickly from sin.

Nowhere is this principle so clearly seen as in Jeremiah 18:5-10: “Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, ‘Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?’ declares the Lord. ‘Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.’”

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God’s hand of blessing or power to destroy is directly applied here to nations and sin. If a sinful nation repents and turns from sin, God will not destroy it. But a nation that is called by God to accomplish His purposes and instead moves into evil, God will destroy. It is interesting that although the Jeremiah 18 passage in its context is clearly talking about Israel, the way the Lord phrases it allows it to be used for any nation, which makes it relevant for us today! How will God’s people in this nation respond?

God of Grace, I am guilty of returning again and again to my sinful nature, and my struggle is multiplied over and over within the Church You established to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth. You have the power to bring healing to our land if we will choose to repent and return our hearts to our First Love once again. When we run after what is false and continue in our wickedness, Your holy heart is grieved. Give me fresh resolve to be one who lives for Jesus Christ alone! I bow my heart before You in repentance, and ask for Your mercy upon this nation so that we may once again be a bright light to the nations!

–adapted from With One Cry: A Renewed Challenge to Pray for America by David Butts. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.

Prayer Points

Praise God for his marvelous goodness. Thank the Lord for being a refuge in times of trouble (Nah. 1:7). Confess your own failure to show goodness toward others. Commit yourself to bearing the fruit of goodness through the power of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22). Ask God to enable you today to “taste and see that the LORD is good” (Ps. 34:8).

Pray that good will win out over evil in every area of our society. Ask that righteousness and justice will permeate the fabric of our culture so that God will be glorified and praised.

–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.  This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.

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