It has been many months since my last post–and what a few months it has been. Recently, I have felt a growing need to seek the Lord’s forgiveness, not for myself alone, but for this nation as a whole. I turned to Daniel chapter 9 for a pray of repentance for the nation. What has come of that Biblical search and the practice of praying the Scripture is below. I hope that you will join me in praying for our nation. I would beg your responses to my post.
A Prayer of Repentance for our Nation
America is in turmoil. We are in the midst of a pandemic. As a consequence of the precautions against the spread of the virus we are experiencing increased unemployment, businesses are going bankrupt, and we are seeing a rise in discouragement, depression, and suicide. Substance abuse is on the rise, and domestic violence has reared its ugly head in more and more homes. Many schools, churches, and entertainment venues are closed, and social distancing is the watchword of the day. There is widespread social unrest and political upheaval. Race riots have once again erupted in our cities. Our population is more and more divided on economic, racial, and sexual lines. And the natural order seems to reflect this pervasive unease in our nation. The Saharan dust storms clouded our skies, the number of tropical storms this early in the season is unprecedented, and a massive derecho has pummeled the midwest. There are wildfires raging in the west, and record heat is being recorded throughout the nation. What are we to do?
The Holy Scriptures tell us that the people of God are to stand in the gap on behalf of the nation. In 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 our Lord confronts us with this exhortation: “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if 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.” It is a command with a promise. “If MY people, who are called by MY Name”…that is us—the people of God—the ones who are called by His Name. We are Christ-ians. We are called to prayerfully stand in the gap on behalf of this entire nation. But how shall we pray? The exhortation in Chronicles tells us that we are to “humble [our]selves, and pray and seek [His] face and turn from [our] wicked ways.” We are to repent. Repent not just for ourselves, but for the sins of the nation. We are to stand in the gap.
As Americans, we practice “democracy”—government by the people. Thus, when things are amiss in our nation, it is because the “people” are not in right alignment—we have turned aside from God’s commandments and ordinances. Should we be surprised that in turning our back on God’s Word He has allowed us to descend into such a deep pit of despair? When God “shut[s] up the heavens” or “send[s] a plague among [the] people” He is not so much punishing us as calling us to return to Him. He is calling us to repent! But you may say, “I have done nothing wrong, why must I repent?”
Daniel had done nothing wrong. He was a man of the Word. He had kept covenant. But he accepted his corporate identity and responsibility as a man of the covenant people. On behalf of the entire nation of Israel, he humbled himself and repented. Daniel stood in the gap and interceded for his entire nation. He set the example for us. He has taught us how to stand in the gap for our nation, for all of the people of this land. The promise in Chronicles is that if we, the people of God, will stand in the gap and humble ourselves, God “will hear from heaven…will forgive [our] sin and will heal [our] land.”
Daniel’s prayer of repentance on behalf of all Israel is recorded for us in chapter nine of the Book of Daniel. I would encourage you to read that prayer in the context of the Book of Daniel. Listen to Daniel’s heart and let it challenge and confront your own. I have been using this prayer to pray for our nation, and have felt moved to adapt it to the needs that we have in our nation today. Here is Daniel’s prayer rewritten as a prayer for our nation in these early years of the 21st century.
The Prayer for our Nation:
O Lord our God, You are great and awesome! You are always faithful in keeping covenant with all who love You and walk in the way of Your commandments. But we have sinned against You, and rebelled against Your Word and disobeyed Your commandments. We have not listened to Your servants the prophets, or been obedient to those whom You have placed over us in Your Name.
Lord, You are righteous, but we are unfaithful and this nation is covered with shame. Our political and religious leaders, our families and our selves, we are all covered with shame because we have sinned against You. We have not obeyed Your voice, walked in Your Truth, or been faithful to those teachings You have given us through Your servants and Your prophets. But we believe and we know that You are merciful and compassionate, forgiving those who sin against You.
All of us in this nation stand guilty of transgressing your Word. We have turned aside from Your ways, and have refused to obey Your voice. So the curses that You proclaimed through Your prophet Moses have come upon us, and You have fulfilled Your word spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing upon us the calamities You foretold. As Moses prophesied, this calamity has come upon us; yet, we have not entreated the favor of our God by turning from our sins and listening to Your Truth.
And now, O Lord our God, You established this nation, but we have sinned and done that which is evil. You have not treated us according to our sins, but according to Your righteousness and mercy. We humbly beg You to turn away Your wrath from this nation and remember not our sins or the sins of those who have come before us.
Please listen to the prayers of Your servants, who are called by Your Name, and hear our pleas for mercy. Shine Your face upon us and look once again with favor on this land. Incline Your ear and hear. Open Your eyes and see the desolations that You have allowed to come into being and rest upon this nation. We do not come before You in our own righteousness, but trusting in Your great mercy and compassion.
O Lord, hear; O Lord forgive! We pray, attend to the petitions of Your people, and do not delay. We ask not for our sake alone, but for the sake of Your Holy Name. Your people, who are called by Your Name, humbly pray, that we may have Your grace to seek Your face and, by that same grace turn from our wicked ways. Then, O Lord, may You hear from heaven, and forgive our sin and heal our land.