By Joseph Ametepe
Once a year, in the life of the nation of Israel, the people of Israel humbled themselves before God. This took place in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month (Leviticus 16:29). This day, which fell in the month equivalent to our August, is called the Day of Atonement (or Yom Kippur). It was set aside as a day of public fasting and humiliation on which atonement for the people's sins was made by the high priest. The Day of Atonement was and is a solemn day for the people of Israel. On this day, the people of Israel sought God for the forgiveness of their sins as a nation under God's rule.
The National Day of Prayer (the first Thursday of the month of May) is also a day set aside by the godly founding fathers of this great nation to seek the One and Only True God on behalf of the people of the United States of America. Believers living in this nation should take advantage of this day and join with others to call upon God on behalf of this nation. Sure, we can pray on any given day for this nation. However, when God's people are united in heart to pray specifically for the nation on such a day, set aside for such a specific purpose, God is moved by His people's united prayer for the land.
One of the greatest prayers recorded in the Bible for a nation is the prayer of the prophet Daniel. This prayer is recorded in Daniel 9. This is one of my favorite prayers in the Bible. It is second only to the High Priestly Prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ, recorded in John 17.
In Daniel's Spirit-led prayer for the nation of Israel, we learn the following: First of all, Daniel acknowledged the authority of the Word of God (Daniel 9:2). Daniel had a healthy respect for the Word of God. He lived a life of submission to the authority of God's Word. Second, identifying with the people of Israel, (including the kings, princes, the fathers and all the people of the land), Daniel,admitted their sins before a righteous, holy, great and awesome God (Daniel 9:4-6, 8-11, 15). Daniel knew the power of confessing the collective sins of a nation. You would find that Daniel was very specific in confessing the national sins of Israel. We must similarly be specific in naming the national sins of the United States of America in our prayers. Third, Daniel, affirmed the righteousness of God in all that He had done in Israel's life (Daniel 9:7, 16). Daniel did not blame God. He knew that God is righteous and does only what is right. Fourth, the prophet Daniel agreed with God that He alone is the Best Judge of man's character (Daniel 9:12). No matter how educated and sophisticated we are, we are not the best Judge of people's character and conduct. God alone is. He knows the hidden motives behind every action of man. Therefore, He alone is the Best Judge of our conduct and actions. Fifth, Daniel humbly accepted God's discipline of His people Israel (Daniel 9:13-14). Finally, Daniel asked God for His favor, forgiveness and full restoration of His people to Him, not based on their merits, but on His great mercy (Daniel 9:17-19).
Using this prayer as a pattern, I would like to offer my prayers on behalf of this nation. Please join me. Even if you are not from the United States of America, but you are a believer living in this country, God wants you to seek the welfare or the peace and prosperity of this country and pray to Him on its behalf, because if the United States prospers, you too will prosper (see Jeremiah 29:7). You can also follow this pattern to pray for your own country.
Prayer for the Nation
"God was moved by prayer for the land" (2 Sam. 21:14b)
Acknowledging the Authority of the Word of God
Heavenly Father, You are the Great and Awesome God. You are the Living and True God who has revealed Yourself to us in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, Your One and Only Son. We worship You and magnify Your holy name. Yes, indeed Your name is above all names. Yet O Lord God, You have magnified Your Word according to all Your name. We sincerely thank You for giving us Your Word - the Bible. In Your unconditional love for us, You gave it to us to be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path in life. In Your Word, You reveal to us who You really are. You gave us Your wise, precious and righteous commandments so that we may know You and Your ways. You gave them to enlighten our eyes to the Truth. In Your precepts and statutes we find salvation. Trusting in them, we will never be disappointed. They are true, trustworthy, dependable and reliable. In them we have hope that is sure, secure and steadfast. In short, O Lord our God, You gave us Your Holy Word for our own good. We therefore acknowledge the authority of Your Word.
Admitting Our Sins before a Holy and Righteous God
O Holy and Gracious God, we humbly admit our sins before You. O Lord, our sins are many. We are ashamed and embarrassed to lift up our face to You, our God, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens. Holy and Righteous God, we have sinned greatly against You. We have done wrong. We have been wicked. We have rejected the authority of Your Word. We have stubbornly turned away from following the truths of Your Word. We accept the words of men, but ridicule Your Holy Word as ancient, old-fashioned, and irrelevant for our civilized and modern times. We have cast Your Word behind our backs. We have also turned our backs on You. We refuse to obey You and Your Word. Everyone is doing what is right in his own eyes and as such, we have rejected Your rule over us as one nation under God. We have been calling good evil, and evil good. Our feet run to evil. Truth and justice are lacking in our courts and companies. We rely on empty arguments and speak lies to one another. We are "sue happy." Moreover, we do not plead our case with integrity. We are quick to blame You when things go wrong in our lives. Again and again, You've heard from our mouths, 'If God is a good and loving God, why did He let these bad things happen in our country?' We stand as Judge over You. How arrogant of us! We have glamorize and legalize sin in this country. Unashamedly, we shed innocent blood, thus polluting the land. We take the lives of millions of unborn babies for the sake of defending "our rights." We have not responded to the warnings of Your servants calling us to repentance. We are lovers of ourselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to our parents, ungrateful, unforgiving, greedy, hateful, without self-control, not lovers of the good, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. We admit that we are a nation of sexual immorality, impurity, drunkenness, orgies and the like. We exchange the truth of God for a lie, and worship and serve created things rather than the Creator. In our nation, men commit indecent acts with other men and proudly defend it as an "alternative lifestyle." Women exchange their natural relations for unnatural ones. We suppress the Truth by our wickedness. Although we know Your righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, yet we not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. Although You have blessed us with riches and wealth, we boast in our own abilities, saying, 'our power and the strength of our hands have produced this great wealth for us.' Our silver and gold have increased and all we have is multiplied, therefore our heart have become proud and we have forgotten You, O God, who is the Giver of every good and perfect gift. O Lord, we and our presidents, secretaries, senators, supreme court judges, members of the house of representatives, governors, mayors and all the people of this country are covered with shame because we have sinned against You.
Even those of us who are called by Your name, have not humbled ourselves and turned away from our wicked ways to seek Your face for the nation. We compromise with the world. We are cold. We are complacent. We lack real commitment to You. We dilute Your Gospel. We preach a "feel good Gospel." We no longer call sin, sin. We call it something that is less offensive. Instead of letting our light shine so that others may see our good deeds and give glory to You, our lights have been dimmed because of our own sins. We rob You in our tithes and offerings. We give You our "leftovers." Although we have several copies of Your Bible in our homes, yet we do not read, meditate and hide its precious truths in our hearts that we may not sin against You. We only give lip-service to prayer. We are full of hypocrisy. We do not confess You before men. We fear men and their wrath more than You and Your wrath. We are constantly pleasing men, not You. We like the praise and applause of men for our service. We rationalize our sins instead of confessing them. We conceal our sins from one another instead of confessing them to one another that we may be healed. We harbor resentment in our hearts against those who have wronged us. We gossip about others. We do not remove the plank in our own eyes before removing the speck of sawdust in our brother's eyes. Thus, we hypocritically judge others without first dealing with the bigger problem of sin in our own lives. Although Your Word clearly tells us to pray for all those who are in authority, yet we have not given ourselves to praying for them. We criticize them and speak disrespectfully of them. We do not give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is to God's. We have forsaken our first love. We are lukewarm. We tolerate false teachers who are leading Your children astray. We are not committed to the task of the Great Commission. We are rich compared to all other churches in the world. We have accumulated great wealth. We have acquired the best technological devices for our services. Therefore, we say to ourselves, 'we do not need a thing.' But we do not realize that we are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. We rely on our puny human strength and skills to do Your work, instead of depending on the great power of Your Holy Spirit. O Lord, our God, our sins are great and many in Your sight! Our sins testify against us. We confess all of them to You. We lay all of them at the foot of the Cross of Jesus Christ, Your Beloved Son. Please, cover them with His precious blood and according to Your promise, please remember them no more against us. Thank You!
Affirming God's Righteousness in All that Has Come Upon Us
O Eternal and Righteous Father, You are God! We ascribe greatness to You. You are the Rock and the Lord. Your works are perfect, and all Your ways are just. You are a faithful God who does no wrong. Good and upright are You. O Lord, for many years, You have been patient with us. Even though we have sinned greatly against You, in Your great mercy You did not put an end to this great nation or abandon us, for You are a gracious and merciful God. Indeed, in all that has happened to us, since September 11, 2001 and prior, You have been just. You have been patient and forbearing. You have acted faithfully, while we did wrong. We do not blame You for September 11, 2001, or for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the year 2005, which brought great disaster upon us as a nation. We do not blame You for any of the disasters this nation has seen over the course of its nationhood. You are good and have only been good to us. We refuse to give in to Satan's lie. He wants us to blame You so that he, the evil one, will look good in people's eyes. With oneness of heart, we affirm today Your righteousness in all that has come upon us as a nation. You are righteous and always do what is right.
Agreeing with God that He Is the Best Judge of Our Ways
O Merciful Heavenly Father, You are the Judge of all the earth. You know all things. You see what is in our hearts. You judge the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. There is no creature hidden from Your sight. All things are open and laid bare to Your eyes. We cannot fool You. We cannot pull the wool over Your eyes. We agree with You today that You are the Best Judge of our conduct and character. You made us and therefore know us through and through. You are not a man that You should lie, nor a son of man, that You should change Your mind. You speak and then act. You promise and then fulfill. You always keep Your Word. You always call good, good, and evil, evil. You do not use smooth talk and flattery to deceive us. You always tell us what is true of us. You see our sinful ways. In Your mercy, You also show us where we have gone wrong as a nation. Today, we agree with Your judgment of our ways. We have departed from the godly heritage given to us by our founding fathers. We are living in sin and legalizing sin for the sake of building a great economy. We agree with Your judgment that sin is a reproach to a people. We agree with You today that we are not where You want us to be as a nation, spiritually, morally and socially. Your judgments of us are true and right. We agree with each one of them. You have done this for our good, not merely to heap guilt upon us. You do not delight in the death of the wicked. Rather, Your desire is for us to agree with Your righteous judgments of us and turn and live. O Lord, our God, You are good!
Accepting God's Discipline of Us as a Nation
Dear Father, today we humbly accept Your discipline of us as a nation. We know that even earthly parents discipline their children who continue to disobey them and we respect them for doing so. Shall we not much more accept Your discipline, which is for our own good? Because our sins are great and many, You have every right to discipline us. You disciplined Your chosen people Israel for not turning from their sins and giving attention to Your truth. You also executed disciplinary judgments on great kingdoms, such as Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome, kingdoms who did not know You and follow You. You did so because You are the Most High God and the Rightful Ruler of the nations. Whether, we like it or not, You are the Rightful Ruler of the United States of America. It will not benefit us if we disregard, despise, and disdain Your discipline of us. You are a loving God but You are also just and must discipline us for our sins. Your Word says, "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life"(Galatians 6:7-8). As a nation, we have sown to please our sinful nation, therefore You are justified in Your discipline of us. We accept the consequences of our sins. We thank You that You have judged us less than our sins have deserved. We accept Your discipline in whatever form You choose to unleash it upon us. We also accept the fact that, the purpose of Your discipline is to bring us back to You and Your ways. Therefore, even in Your discipline of us, You will be abundantly merciful to us.
Asking God's Favor, Forgiveness and Full Restoration to Himself
Now, O Lord, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of Your people. For Your sake, O Lord, look with favor on the United States of America, and do not treat us as our sins really deserved. O Lord, God Almighty, in Your favor and in keeping with all Your righteous acts, turn away Your anger and Your wrath from this nation, lest we quickly perish from this good land. Remember O God, our Father, that You are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore, O Lord, God the Almighty, please forgive us our many sins. We need You. Without You we can do nothing. Teach us to love living under Your rule. Bring us once again to the point of submitting to the authority of Your Word. We ask You to revive Your churches in this country. Revive all those You have chosen to be preachers, pastors, elders, evangelists, missionaries, messengers, teachers, and all Your believing children. We ask You to restore a hunger for You and for Your Word in whole the land. Please restore us to Yourself. Restore the fear of God among Your people and in this land. Restore us fully to Yourself that we may walk in Your ways. Please renew us that we may live for You. Turn our hearts back to You. Give us a true spirit of repentance. Reconcile us to Yourself through Your Son Jesus Christ that we may be reconciled to one another. Heal our land.
O Lord, direct the heart of our president to wherever You wish in order to accomplish Your good will for this nation. Surround Him with wise counselors and advisors. Help him to rule this nation with a heart of compassion, wisdom, integrity and justice. Protect him and his family from the enemy. Direct the hearts of all those who are in the senate, the house of representatives and the supreme court to where You desire, in order to fulfill Your purposes for this land.
O Lord, the great and awesome God, Your Word declares, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord." Please, put it in our hearts to want You to be our God, for it is only when You are our God and Lord that we are truly blessed. May we choose You today and always to be our God! You have set life and death before us. Incline our hearts to choose life by choosing You as our One and Only true God, who is fully revealed in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, Your Beloved and Blessed Son.
We do not make requests of You based on our own merit, but on the account of Your great mercy. O Lord, hear and act! For Your sake, O our God, do not delay in answering us for we need Your restoration of us to Yourself so urgently. Without Your restoration of us to Yourself, we will not survive. We will not advance. We will not progress. We will not prosper. Our prosperity and progress as one nation under God greatly depend on Your restoration of us to Yourself.
We praise You that You are a God who hears and answers prayer. We thank You in advance that You will be moved by united prayer for this nation. We present all these praises, prayers and petitions to You, O Lord God, the Almighty, in the precious and powerful name of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory both now and forever more, through Your Holy Spirit. Amen!