Praying for the United States

Encouragement for Your Heart & Mind on what God is Doing

Three days from now, celebrations will erupt celebrating the 246th birthday of the United States of America.

We date the birth of this country to the July 4th acceptance, by the Second Continental Congress, of our Declaration of Independence from British ownership and rule.

On Monday, picnics and parades fill the day while fireworks fill the night sky.  But on Sunday (July 3), will we find ourselves in places where gathered worship occurs?  And will we find ourselves on our knees praying for our country.

Since the earliest days of the Christian movement, Jesus’ disciples were urged to pray for the organized rule and rulers under which they lived.  At the prompting of God’s Spirit, the Apostle Paul gave this instruction to Pastor Timothy:
I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people.  Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf and give thanks for them.  Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority, so that we can live peace and quiet lives, marked by godliness and dignity.  This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
It is interesting, if not crucial, to see the intertwined aspects of this apostolic command.  THANKFULNESS for all the people around us.  INTERCESSION for the people around us, for God’s help, and for them to understand the gospel.  REQUESTS for those in authority over us, that God will prompt the specifics of their governance to allow us to live in holiness, as a testimony to the beauty and power of gospel truth.

We pray for so many personal things – personal travel mercies, personal healing from sickness, our own personal needs.  And, of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with asking God for personal help.

Yet Paul asks Pastor Timothy to lift his prayer focus, and that of those he was leading, to those around them  and to those over them.  A reading of the life of the early church in Acts reveals how determinative the decisions of authorities – local, regional, and empire wide – were in the spread and progress of the gospel.  Paul often found himself engaged with leaders of key cities, magistrates, jailors, Roman soldiers, kings.  He knew the importance for the gospel of God’s hand in their rulings and decisions.

It is no secret that our country (the United States), our state (Colorado), our county (Fremont County) and our cities (Cañon City, Penrose, Florence, and surrounds) need our prayers, as do those who are in authority.  The gospel is still the hope of our world.

The ACLU website reminds us that:
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” As enshrined in the First Amendment, religious freedom includes two complementary protections: the right to religious belief and expression and a guarantee that the government neither prefers religion over non-religion nor favors particular faiths over others.
When sizing up how well protected the rights of the First Amendment are, the assessment is a mixed bag.  Recently, an Oregon high school football coach won in a Supreme Court ruling over the issue of his kneeling to pray mid-field after each game.  He was fired for refusing to obey a directive from the school board that he not do so, the court ruling that the board’s directive was a violation of his right to free speech.  Many Christians are applauding this recent SCOTUS ruling.

Yet just 9 years ago, U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Monifa Sterling (a devoted Christian), stationed at Camp Lejeune (NC) posted at her work station a Bible verse from Isaiah 54:17, “No weapon formed against you shall prosper.”  Other Marines had a variety of personal items at their work stations.  She didn’t see how posting a Bible verse she loved was any different.

Her supervisor (her former drill instructor) ordered her to remove the verse.  She refused.  The next morning, she found that her verse had been torn down and thrown in the trash.  She reprinted the verses and put them back. Again, the next morning, she found them in the trash.
The conflict over the verses eventually resulted in LCpl Sterling being demoted by a military judge, given a bad conduct discharge, and reduced the military’s lowest rank.  Her appeals went through the military judicial system, which consistently ruled against her.  Surprisingly, when the Supreme Court at the chance to rule on her matter (2017), it refused to hear the appeal.  The mistreatment of military justice prevailed.

Suffering great financial loss, she was demoted, dismissed, and disqualified for any veteran benefits (cf.

All because she wanted to post a Bible verse at her desk.  Why wasn’t this -- Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech – upheld in her case?  Answers await the convening of the court of heaven.

To Christians in even more difficult circumstances, Peter wrote, “Even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it.  So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats” (1 Peter 3:14).

Paul urges us what he urged of the Colossian believers: To prayer give yourselves with everything you have, with an alert mind, with constant thankfulness…Pray that God will give many opportunities to speak about Christ” (Colossians 4:2-3).

Let’s celebrate our wonderful country this weekend.  But…let’s also pray.
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