As we approach our nation's 236th birthday, we talked about Christian citizenship in worship on Sunday. But for some reason, the element of the service that spoke to hearts was my pastoral prayer. It was a prayer for America. No matter what one's politics maybe, all followers of Jesus recognize our nation's and our leaders' need for prayer. Maybe that's why this prayer meant something to some folks on Sunday, I don't know. Anyway, I've been asked to post it, so here it is.
We praise you, our Father, that you are Lord of the universe and Lord of these United States. You are the God who puts rulers in their places, who ordains the powers that be. That’s not easy for us to understand sometimes. We forget that you see the big picture. We forget that you work in these ways both to bless and to judge. You sit high above the heavens. Nothing happens on this earth that you don’t know or that doesn’t pass your counsel. Teach us to trust you even when we just don’t get it. Remind us that you are the God who works and wills according to your good pleasure and that you are the God who will one day destroy evil and establish your kingdom forever.
In the meantime, we pray for our own nation as we prepare to celebrate yet another birthday. We thank you for the good this nation has done in the world. We thank you for the sacrifice of many who have sought to make it so. We thank you for the myriad of ways you have blessed this nation throughout our history. We thank you for our Founders and for every generation since. And yet it seems that in this relay through time, we have dropped the baton. We have forgotten our roots and lost our way as a nation.
Rather than acknowledging that you are God and that in God we trust, we have become ashamed to own your name and follow your ways. In a time when we need you most, we have distanced ourselves from you and become ashamed of the gospel. Forgive us for our sins.
Rather than continuing to guarantee the pursuit of life, we have made a mother’s womb a dangerous place to be, snuffing out life before a baby gets to see the light of day. We don’t call the baby “life” anymore; we call the baby “choice.” Many women who have made that choice are broken today. Please help these women, and forgive us for our sins.
Rather than honoring marriage as the institution you created as a means to demonstrate your faithfulness to the world, as a way to give children the best environment in which to grow, as a means of building a society on a solid foundation, we have raced to divorce court, we have been adulterers, we have blessed homosexual behavior and called it normal. Forgive us for our sins.
Rather than disciplining our children we have allowed disrespect and misbehavior and anything goes, and we are reaping what we’ve sown. Forgive us for our sins.
Rather than seek the greater good and unity of our nation, we have become a nation of hyphenated-Americans, of special interests and self-interests with little regard for the common good or what’s best for us all. Forgive us for our sins.
Rather than being stewards of our resources to help others, personally and corporately we’ve become greedy and miserly and stingy, thinking only of self to the neglect of others. Forgive us for our sins.
Rather than discovering the truly needy and providing for them, we have encouraged a sense of entitlement and a lack of personal responsibility on the part of so many of our citizens so that a good system of care for those in genuine need has been corrupted and nearly bankrupted, making harder the help those who need it most. Forgive us for our sins.
Rather than speaking truth and letting the chips fall where they may, we have become a nation of lies and spin and slander. Forgive us for our sins.
And rather than being salt and light in this country, your church has become so compromised by the culture that nobody takes us seriously anymore. Forgive us for our sins.
We pray for our President and leaders on every level of government. Please make them wise, help them to seek your will, purge them of self-interest, and teach them to look out for the good of the whole rather than the few. We pray for our soldiers on faraway battlefields, please bring peace quickly and bring them home. And would you help these poor war-torn countries rebuild and get on with their lives without war? We pray for relief from the fires and the storms and the natural disasters that have rocked our nation in unprecedented ways for several years now. Have mercy on us, O God.
In spite of record deficits and downgraded credit ratings, we are still considered the most prosperous nation on the earth. You have blessed us in so many ways. And yet we are a most needy nation in other ways. We are in need of rain, in need of revival, in need of humility, in need of repentance, in need of forgiveness, in need of unity, in need of peace in our wars and peace in our homes, in need of your great mercy. Father, without you, we’re sunk, we’re hopeless. Without you, our economic and military power isn’t worth a hill of beans. Please humble us, forgive our sins, and heal our land.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.