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 He 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.”
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.
In spite of how you might feel about the current situation in Washington, D.C., please pray for our president and congress. Ask God to grab their hearts and turn them to Himself. Pray that the Lord will burden them with the situation we are in and show them the need for repentance. Pray that God will give them the courage to stand up and call for our nation to turn back to God.
Father, our nation is filled with pride – even Your Church is stumbling in this area. Starting with each of us individually, and moving through our churches, communities and nation…would You call us to our knees in repentance? We have disobeyed You and turned our hearts toward idols. We have robbed You of Your glory, Lord! As we bow our broken hearts before You, please hear us, restore us and heal our land! We ask this in the powerful, promise-filled Name Above ALL Names!
–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.
Praise your great, mighty, and awesome covenant-keeping God (Neh. 9:32). Thank God for strengthening those whose hearts are fully committed to him (2 Chron. 16:9). Confess those times when you depend on your own strength rather than God’s (Eccl. 5:7). Commit yourself to spending time daily reflecting on God’s awe, his faithfulness, and might (Ps. 89:6-8). Ask God’s forgiveness for neglecting him when hardships arise.
Pray that God’s kingdom will grow as oppressed people recognize God’s awesome majesty and come to him in faith.
“Worship is intended to introduce God’s kingdom power throughout the church and extend that power through the church.” —Jack Hayford
PRAY FOR THE NATION RESOURCE: Pray into America’s Future! Most Christians believe that much prayer is needed for our nation. But most don’t know how to pray in an effective way that will release the power of God on behalf of our nation. Weaving together Scriptures and stories from America’s past, With One Cry: A Renewed Challenge to Pray for America by David Butts confronts our current situation and provides hope for our future. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.