Praying for the Nation

“If I shut the sky so there is no rain, or if I command the grasshopper to consume the land, or if I send pestilence on my people, and my people, who bear my name, humble themselves, pray and seek my face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:13–14).

This is the companion piece to the post I just finished. Rather than trying to cram everything into one long piece I decided to address each item separately. Like the previous post, this comes from a place of bewilderment and a little disappointment. It stems from what appears to be misunderstanding and misuse of scripture, one in particular. At the risk of sounding nit-picky or legalistic, here goes.

I see people all over Facebook and the internet, Christians in particular, calling for us to pray for this nation. I don’t have a problem with that, as it certainly needs all the prayers it can get. But then they quote the above referenced verse from 2 Chronicles 7:14 as evidence God will answer them and restore the nation. Now there, I see a couple of problems.

First of all, the verse references the nation of Israel specifically. They were indeed God’s hand-chosen people who had a spectacular record of disobeying God and turning their back on him. In spite of that, they remained God’s chosen nation, because he had a specific plan for them which would ultimately result in the possibility of salvation and reconciliation for the entire world. As a result, Israel enjoyed a very special relationship with God that was not or will ever be available to any other nation.

As blessed and ‘exceptional’ as we consider the United States to be, this verse doesn’t apply to us as a nation, because after the death and resurrection of Christ the definition of ‘my people, who bear my name‘ changed. Those people are the members of Christ’s church. They’re not limited to one locality, one nation, one race, or one culture. They’re the people who have been sown throughout the nations of the world and are tasked with being Christ’s representatives on earth, the bearers of his message of Good News.

If we apply this verse to the world today, then Christians need to realize it addresses our own lives. It’s arguable that part of the reason the world has become what it is has resulted from the Church not being what it’s supposed to be. If we’re serious about wanting God to heal our nation we need to start by humbling ourselves and seeking God’s face, asking forgiveness and healing for our own sins first. When we become what God’s people are meant to be and get serious about the task given to us, then God can begin to heal the rest of the nation.