A Renewed Challenge to Pray for America: Understanding the Times

“From the tribe of Issachar, there were 200 leaders of the tribe with their relatives. All these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take” (1 Chronicles 12:32).

Men of the tribe of Issachar in the Old Testament, were described as those who understood the times and knew what Israel must do. That is our role today. Understanding the times, but also knowing what the people of God must do during those times. Perhaps a very practical prayer for the Church today is that God would make us as the sons of Issachar, understanding the times and knowing how to live in those times.

Though God certainly can demonstrate His perspective to us without any sort of human input, my strong suggestion is that He works more often through knowledge than through lack of knowledge. By this I mean, we will be more likely to gain clarity about what God thinks if we are carefully and closely watching what is already happening in the world. When a working knowledge of world or national events is wed with the Spirit of God, the result is always more understanding.

Rather than watching the news or reading the newspaper and shaking your head over bad events, why not add a prayer for discernment to your watching and reading? As world events unfold, instead of submitting to despair or anger, seek the Lord’s insight over what is occurring. The result will be an understanding of the times in which we live.

The biblical text, however, does not end with the men of Issachar merely understanding the times. They also knew what Israel should do. This adds wisdom to knowledge. Knowing information is one thing. Having the wisdom to know what to do with that knowledge is immensely valuable.

We live in troubled times where there is lots of reacting, but little understanding. There is probably even less wisdom to know what to do in a nation that has seemingly lost its collective mind. How should the people of God live in these days? What sort of direction should the church take in the midst of the confusion of our days? If we as the people of God do not even know who we are or where we are going, how can we speak with a strong prophetic voice to our society?

Jesus gave signs to help us understand where we are in the flow of history. These were not so much given as a prediction, but as awareness and a call to prayer and action. The entire chapters of Matthew 24-25 are signs, both of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D. as well as of his coming. The tendency of so many Christians is to blithely say, “Well, no one knows the day or hour so I’m not going to spend any time on that.” That attitude somehow assumes that Jesus gave signs for no good reason.

It’s not for prediction, but preparedness. Paul clearly teaches us, “But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober” (1 Thess.5:4-6).

Whether it is end times events that we face, or remedial judgments for our national sins, the watchman Church must not be unaware. The call is to watch and pray!

 Lord, please help me to understand the times in which I live. May I not be dependent upon others’ opinions but always seek after Your accurate perspective of what is happening around me and within my nation and the world. Give me a discerning heart to know what I must do. I want to be a prepared servant who lives, not in fear, but in expectant hope.

–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

Glorify God as the one who fills all of your desires and needs with his presence alone. Thank God for being sufficient for you even when every other source of joy or support is taken away. Confess your dependence on other people or situations to make you content and happy. Commit yourself to making Jesus your “pearl of great price,” and ask him to make you willing to give up all you have for the sake of his kingdom, if necessary (Mt. 13:44-46).

Ask God to bring to your mind the material needs of an unsaved acquaintance so that you will be able to help meet those needs and bring that person closer to the kingdom.

–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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