I have found it very difficult the past few years to be patriotic for my country. I care so much for my country and have been called to service in different ways over my lifetime. Right now, I feel it impressed upon my spirit that the most patriotic thing I can do for my country is to pray. As I was reading Daniel (currently, my most favorite story of the Bible), I saw a wonderful prayer to pray:
“O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kinds, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. Lord you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame…because we have sinned against you. The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you…we do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your…people bear your Name.”
There is a great difference between Daniel’s prayer and ours…his being a prayer while all his people (house of Israel) were scattered across the countries around them…everyone was deported to Egypt and Babylon and other countries and Jerusalem; God’s holy city and sanctuary was desecrated; and God’s wrath was poured out onto the people…terrible disasters occurred after His people chose to ignore His many, many warnings over a long period of time. Daniel prayed a humble prayer and even though he lived a righteous and upright life (the angel called him highly esteemed by the Lord), he still prayed with the knowledge that God would restore Jerusalem and His people because of HIS great mercy, love, and righteousness, and not Daniel’s.
I love Daniel’s humility and his love for the Lord, his country and people. He was BURDENED by the actions of his countrymen. He was BURDENED by the suffering of his people, even though they were unfaithful to the Lord, despite His countless ways of beckoning them back to Him. He mourned, fasted, and prayed for their situation. God heard his prayer. God answered because of His great mercy and love for Daniel and His people.
Isn’t it amazing what prayer can do? When Stephen prayed a humble, incredibly forgiving prayer to the Lord for his persecutors (Saul), as he was being stoned to death, soon after, Saul was changed to Paul and his heart radically transformed into one most devoted to the Lord and made into a powerfully influencial person in the beginning of the Christian church. And, as Daniel, a man highly esteemed by the Lord, prayed a prayer of total humility, with true burden for his countrymen, who was also persecuted because of his faith (he was thrown into a lion’s den!), the Lord answered in a great way, giving Daniel unbelievable revelations about the future, as well as ultimately restoring Daniel’s countrymen and the temple and bringing favor upon them once again. Daniel was visited by angels because of his great faith and endurance. Stephen looked up into heaven and saw Jesus as he was taking his last breath. They were both given great encouragement by the Lord himself and they both had radical answers to their prayers.
Let us pray for our country and be also burdened, so that we do not have to pray Daniel’s full prayer…so that we do not have to be totally shamed…but can acknowledge the Lord’s great love, faithfulness, grace, and mercy…and return to His ways.
I am praying this for the USA with all my heart today. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.