Vol. 31 Num. 26
“Prayer for the Nation of our Earthly Sojourn”
First Published: July 2, 1998
As we approach Independence Day, July 4, I want to extend a special and heartfelt expression of gratitude to those in our own congregation have risked life and limb in the armed services of this nation to secure the precious liberties that we now enjoy. May your spirit live on in a new generation of Americans.
The very thought of your service reminds us that we ought all to be thankful to our Lord for the national mercies he has showered upon us and to plead earnestly for his reviving Spirit to visit us and turn us from our sins. Long ago, Matthew Henry (the great Bible commentator) compiled a useful list of important concerns for the believer to take before the Lord regarding the land of his earthly citizenship. I share some of them (with slight modifications) with you as a motivation to prayer.
Henry says that we ought to pray for: “our own land and nation which we ought in a special manner to seek the welfare of, that in the peace thereof we may have peace. 1. We must be thankful to God for his mercies to our land. 2. We must be humble before God for our national sins and provocations. 3. We must pray earnestly for the favor of God to us, and the tokens of his presence among us, as that is in which the happiness of our nation is bound up. 4. For the continuance of the gospel among us, and the means of grace, and a national profession of Christ's holy religion. 5. For the continuance of our outward peace and tranquility, our liberty and plenty, for the prosperity of our trade, and a blessing upon the fruits of the earth. 6. For the success of our endeavors for the reformation of manners, the suppression of vice and profaneness, and the support of religion and virtue, and the bringing of them into reputation. 7. For the healing of our unhappy divisions, and the making up of our breaches. 8. For victory and success against our enemies abroad, that seek our ruin. 9. For our President, that God will protect his person, preserve his health, and continue his life and government as a public blessing. 10. For the President’s cabinet, the Senators and Congressmen, the ambassadors and envoys abroad, and all that are employed in the conduct of public affairs. 11. For the judicial system, especially the judges, public prosecutors and defenders, and all those is the profession of law. 12. For all the ministers of God's holy word and sacraments. 13. For the universities, colleges, and schools of learning. 14. For the all people of the land, and especially the downcast.”
Clearly, there is much to pray for concerning our nation. “Lord, bless our country” falls far short of the specific intercessions that we ought to be lifting up in her behalf. So perhaps these petitions suggested by Matthew Henry along time ago, will aid you in your prayers for the United States (or, for those readers of the First Epistle living in other lands, for the nation of your sojourn). Indeed, they may bring to mind other things that we need to pray for as we lift up our land before the Lord’s throne of grace. Lord, revive our land and protect her!
Happy Independence Day to you all.