All Christians have the responsibility to love and pray for their nation. We are the salt of the earth and the light of the world, Scripture says. (Matt. 5:13-16)
The word “Christian” refers to a follower of Christ or a disciple of Jesus Christ. The process of following or discipleship starts with the experience of being born-again, which is repentance of sin and accepting Jesus Christ both as Saviour and Lord into our lives (John 3:5; Acts 2:38-39; 16:31). There is no other way to become a Christian except through Jesus Christ (John 3:16; 14:6; Acts 4:12).
Once a person is born-again, that person becomes a heavenly citizen with an earthly residence (Col. 3:1-4). Being a heavenly citizen does not give us a free ticket to abandon or to be passive from our earthly responsibilities, both as a person and community. Our perspective on how we see things in the world and act both in words and deeds in various circumstances have to change to that of the heavenly patterns (Rom. 12-1-3; Col. 3:17-25).
As Dutch Sheets puts it: “The Father’s original plan is now reinstated—He is governing the earth through His kids.” We are Christ’s ambassadors as a legal representative of Heaven, and stewards in the world we live in. (2 Cor. 5:20; Matt. 25:14-30; Gen. 2:28)
Jesus Christ has given His disciples the mandate to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13-16). Which means Christians shine where there is darkness (Dan. 12:3). Christ is the source of the true light, as stated in the Gospel (John 8:12). We reflect Christ’s light in the world that we live in, or Christ shines through our lives in both our words and deeds (Matt. 5:16). Amid darkness and hopelessness, Christians radiate in their lifestyles and proclaim in words the hope we have in Jesus Christ (Acts 16:25; 27:20-26).
Even as we are going through the current crisis and challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is hope in Jesus Christ and also answers to our questions and solution to our problems. The Bible declares that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). Jesus Christ is working in and through us (Phil. 2:13).
The second mandate which Jesus Christ gave to His disciples is that Christians are the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13). Salt has been known as a very essential food commodity as well as medicine; it was also used as currency in the ancient world. One of the main characteristics of salt is, it gives food a good taste; it also preserves the food from decaying. This means salt is a catalyst for change and transformation. In the same way, Christians are the agents of change and social transformation at home, in their communities, the nation, and the world at large. (Rom.12:1-3)
In the Bible, the stories of Joseph, Samuel, Daniel, Esther, Paul, and many others are inspiring. They became the catalyst and shone the light of God’s presence, grace, mercy, and providence in the situations they found themselves and the world they lived-in. The same God is at work today to do mighty things both in us and through us. (Matt. 28:18-20; Phil. 2:13)
“As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you.
And I will teach you the way that is good and right.”
~ 1 Sam. 12:23
One of the most well-respected and influential of all the prophets, priests, and judges in the Old Testament was Samuel the prophet (1 Sam. 3:19-21). During Samuel’s lifetime, the nation of Israel faced various crises and challenges, both spiritual and social, as a nation. But through Samuel’s prayers and ministries, the nation was united and rose from ruins and became victorious, prosperous, and spiritually realigned to the worship of Yahweh. He brought forth and taught the word of God to the people; offered proper sacrifices unto the Lord, administered justice to the people, and anointed the first two kings of Israel.
One important aspect of Samuel’s ministry was praying for the nation of Israel (1 Sam. 12:23). Out of those intercessory prayers, all other aspects of his ministries came forth. Through godly influence, Samuel left a mark over the nation of Israel over three generations. This means those who love us most will pray for us and act in kindness as the Lord leads them. Again, spiritual authority and influence emanate from an intercessory prayer. (Matt.18:18-20; James 5:13-18; 1 Tim. 2:1-7)
As a Prophet, Samuel was used by God to transform the nation of Israel in the 11th century B.C.; later, God also mightily used John Wesley to transform the nation of England and beyond in the 18th century A.D. Wesley, being a man of prayer, was persuaded “to transform the nation, particularly the church, and spread scriptural holiness over the whole land by emphasizing on the “wholeness of the Gospel.” It is not enough to save people’s souls; their minds, bodies, and surroundings needed transformation too.” I believe that we need someone like him in our time and nations today.
Another person who God mightily used to bring restoration and social transformation for the nation of Israel was Nehemiah (Neh. 1:1-4). Nehemiah was neither a priest nor a prophet, but he was an ordinary person who lived during Israel’s days of exile, in the Persian Empire as a pagan king’s cupbearer.
When Nehemiah heard from his brethren about the misery of his people, the ruin of the city of Jerusalem and the sufferings of the nation of Israel, he was moved with compassion and passion. The scripture says he wept, fasted, and prayed to the God of Heaven for about four months.
He was so compassionate about the things of God, and so God used him to bring physical restoration to the city of Jerusalem, social transformation to the nation of Israel, and most importantly, spiritual revival to the nation.
This means, as we pray and intercede for a situation, God will give us direction and provision to be part of the answer and the solutions for the season we live in and the world (Neh. 2:17-18; Acts 13:1-3). Prayer is a spiritual GPS for God’s children.
Another person who loved, prayed, and acted for her people was Queen Esther; God used her mightily to bring deliverance to the Jews (Esther 4:15-17). Her prayer and fasting and those of her colleagues were able to overturn the edict and decrees set by Haman and the enemies against the Jewish people who lived throughout the Persian Empire.
Esther’s response was an act of wisdom, sacrifice, courage, and also prayer. Our faith in the Almighty God and intercessory prayers can move mountains (Matt. 21:21-22). When a man or a woman of faith stands in the gap through prayers and intercedes, God then acts on their behalf and makes everything possible. (Ezek. 22:30; Mk 9:13)
Regardless of our gender, race, education, social status and background, God can still use us as an agent of social transformation and a channel of His blessings to the nations, if only we are willing and dare to believe and pray for a mighty move of God over our lives and sphere of influence we represent. (Gal.3:26-29)
Prophet Jeremiah understood the importance of intercessory prayers for the Jews, even though his people were taken away as captives to foreign nations; yet, he exhorted the Jews to pray and intercede for the city and the nation of their residence (Jer. 29:1-14). God is not limited by politics or geographical location, as He owns the whole universe (Ps.24:1; Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8), which means believers’ intercessory prayers can influence and transform their spiritual, physical and social surroundings; also, prayers can impact and empower their social engagement in the society, as with Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. As Billy Graham put it,
“Whether prayer changes our situation or not, one thing is certain: Prayer will change us!“
Primarily, our spiritual realignment is vital for all other transformations.
In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul exhorts the believers to pray and intercede for kings and all those who are in authority so that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness (1 Tim. 2:1-7). Adverse situations in the world can affect the body of Christ, but the prayers and intercession of the saints can bring about positive changes in society and the world at large (Dan. 2:17-23; Acts 4:23-31). God uses those who pray and intercede as a channel of His blessings to bring an answer and solutions to families, churches, communities, nations, and the world.
How can a Christian love and pray for a nation?
Here are some areas:
– Prayers: It is a powerful channel of communication between God and humanity (Matt. 18:18-20). The more believers pray and intercede, the more they will see the mighty move of God both in their personal lives, families, communities, and their nation (Dan. 6:10, 25-28; 1 Tim. 2:1-7).
The lives of the prophets Samuel and Elijah are good examples of how intercessory prayers can have an impact and influence over ordinary people’s lives, and those who are in authority and a nation (1 Sam. 12:23; 1 Kings 18:36-39; James 5:17-18).
As Dutch Sheets pointed out, Christians can pray and intercede for their nation: both kingly-governmental prayers with authority and power (Matt.18:18-20; Jer.1:9-10; 2 Kings 6:16-18); and also priestly prayers for love, mercy, and grace according to the needs (Gen. 18:16-33; Ezek. 22:30; 1 Tim. 2:1-7; James 5:16-18).
Once, Billy Graham said,
“We can change the course of events if we go to our knees in believing prayer. Prayer should not be merely an act, but an attitude of life. We should not pray for God to be on our side, but pray that we may be on God’s side.”
Prayer realigns our lives and nation toward the will of God. (1 Kings 18:39)
– Voting: Christians should vote for godly and wise leaders who would stand and promote Christian values and morals. We allow the evil ones and their agents to control our political systems, and then introduce policies and pass ungodly laws and regulations to suppress and oppress us, when we fail to vote into power the right leaders.
Nathan the Prophet was a good example who opposed Adonijah from becoming king over Israel, while he supported Solomon to become the rightful king (1 Kings 1:1-53). Later, King Solomon built the most magnificent Temple for the Lord (1 Kings 6-8).
Voting in ungodly leaders is a sin which leads to severe consequences both present and future (1 Tim. 5:22). For example, someone voted for Ahab to become a leader of a nation, who then chose Jezebel to be his queen (1 Kings 16:29-34). Jezebel then brought 450 Baal prophets and others such as Asherah, Molech priests, prophets, and others (like cabinet ministers and leaders of government organs who drafted policies, made laws, enforced laws, educators, judges, and lawyers).
Due to the bad and ungodly leadership of Ahab, the nation of Israel turned away from God, the nation became corrupt, evil and later was taken into captivity (1 Kings 16:29-34; 21:1-26). Voting for the right people or leaders into leadership is vital. Failing to exercise our franchise is a fatal mistake, whilst voting for the wrong leaders is a sin and wrong (1 Tim. 5:22).
– Paying tax and other dues: As a Christian, we must pay taxes, give honour and respect to whom it is due (Matt. 22:15-22; Rom.13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17).
– Undertaking social obligations and responsibilities, unless it contradicts the Word of God and our conscience. There are ongoing debates among Christians that Jesus Christ was politically neutral and passive during His earthly ministries. But I believe that was not the case; rather, He primarily focused on the mission and the task given to Him by His Heavenly Father, which was: accomplishing the work of the atonement, preaching, teaching, healing, and casting out evil spirits (Matt. 4:23-25; John 4:34; 9:4).
Jesus Christ was also actively engaged and prayed to fulfill the will of the Father while on Earth (Matt. 26:36-46). This means, we have to pray and actively engage in fulfilling the will of our Heavenly Father daily, which includes fulfilling the Great Commission, loving and praying for our nation (Matt. 22:37-40; 28:18-20).
– During the current coronavirus pandemic crisis and challenges, the Canberra Declaration family and Australian Christians across denominations came together (including our Prime Minister, Mr. Scott Morrison), and in intercessory prayers and repentance, we sought the face of God.
We are all witnesses of the hand of God which moved swiftly over our nation, with infection cases as well as death rates decreasing dramatically daily. It is a true miracle. Prayer works, which means Christians should pray always. As Dutch Sheets pointed out,
“The church of Christ is moving from being congregational to being congressional — moving outside the walls of our gathering places and into the halls of kingdom legislation.”
We will continue to pray for a total victory over the Covid-19 pandemic and its effects, for the speedy recoveries of the social impacts and the economy, and most importantly, for the spiritual revival of our personal lives, churches, and the nation.
As the Apostle Paul exhorted first-century Christians to pray always and without ceasing (Eph. 6:18; 1 Thess. 5:16-18), God wants believers to pray daily for ourselves, families, churches, communities and especially for our nation. Those who truly love us will pray for us and also act in kindness toward us according to God’s will.
God’s agape love involves prayers and action (John 3:16; 1 John 3:16-18). As Billy Graham pointed out, “You cannot pray for someone and hate them at the same time.” That means, without love, prayer can be burdensome and tiring. Therefore, those who love Australia must pray for Australia and get involved as the Lord leads when the need arises. Ordinary people like you, me, and others, which means we are the answers to this generation and nation.
Let me conclude my remarks by quoting a passage of Scripture,
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:
“Whom shall I send,
And who will go for Us?”
Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”
~ Isaiah 6:8
The question is, would you and I respond to God’s call for prayers and intercession, or ignore it or excuse ourselves so that He may assign someone else?