For those of us in the U.S., May 2 was the National Day of Prayer, an event first called in 1775 by the Continental Congress, and established by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. In 1952 Congress voted unanimously to establish a National Day of Prayer. The purpose of this day is specifically to pray for the nation and those in authority. According to Paul in 1 Timothy 2:8, we do this so that we will have a peaceable and quiet land.
I believe there are at least 5 Keys to effective prayer for any nation, not just the United States. They are:
Forgive those whose political stance we oppose.
Forgive those of our own political leanings who have not governed wisely.
Forgive the political, media and social groups that have sown evil and discord.
Forgive our family, friends, co-workers, and pastors for inaction, silence, or judgments made relative to the government.
Forgive ourselves for our own inaction, silence or judgments made relative to the government.
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray the focus of the prayer Jesus taught them was about the nations and government — on earth as it is in Heaven. The prayer in Matthew 6:9 begins and ends with reference to the kingdom. Four keys of prayer are referenced: Father God, freedom, food and forgiveness. I believe that the first three depend on the last one — forgiveness.
Forgiveness was God’s idea and it is only because of His forgiveness that we are in a position to pray to Him as Father. We are commanded to forgive just as we have been forgiven. Sometimes it is challenging to obey this command when the issue is tied to political and governmental people and issues. Then we find ourselves involved in intellectual debate, questions of right and wrong or righteous indignation. It may even be difficult to identify our unforgiveness. However, if we are uncertain, Holy Spirit is able to reveal it in our heart. And it is vitally important to deal with what is in our heart. David said in Psalm 66:18 : “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” (NIV) For me that one verse is enough motivation to allow unforgiveness to be uncovered and dealt with.
Holy Spirit, search our hearts. May we forgive as we have been forgiven, so that our prayers will be heard and our nation will be saved.