Today is designated as the National Day of Prayer. Whatever the political or cultural stripe, we can all agree that these United States are standing in the need of prayer. From skyrocketing debt (national and personal) to disregard for life to vulgar entertainments to hyper-individualism – the list is endless – that which ails us will never be remedied without massive spiritual transformation. What about elections? Many will be familiar with this passage from C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, where the Devil counsels his nephew on the best way to keep eyes off the Cross:
 
Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing. Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours – and the more “religious” (on those terms) the more securely ours. (#7)
 
Absent fervent prayer offered by redeemed sinners, all of our social media posting, vigorous debating, media absorbing, fund raising, voter recruiting and poll going add little or nothing to the temporal well-being and eternal security of our fellow citizens. Only the favor – bought and paid for by Jesus – of our sovereign God will deliver lasting peace and authentic prosperity. It is prayer that reverses the diabolical formula, making worldly pursuits conform to the truth of the Gospel.
Every other week or so, we join our voices in prayer using our Lord’s own words found in Matthew 6:9-13. Only we ourselves can identify the motive of our own hearts as to whether these words are an offering made in humility or a recitation akin to saying the alphabet. If it is sincere, we can in fact apply it to our national life:
  • That God’s name will be held in honor among all Americans
  • That a great revival will ignite the American continent
  • That God’s purposes will be made manifest on our shores
  • That we will have the provisions we need to serve him
  • That God will forgive our collective and individual sins
  • That he will protect our very souls
None of these threaten our liberty. In fact, only when these pleas are neglected or resisted is liberty in its worst peril. The apostle Paul told the church at Corinth: Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:17)

In a period when we chafe against the restrictions imposed for public health reasons, we can nevertheless be confident that freedom is our inheritance in Jesus Christ. Pray for his liberty to spread from sea to sea…and to every state, territory and possession beyond. Whatever enemies bear down – hostile nation-states, recessions, depressions or pandemics – they can never rob us of this divine birthright.
 

John Gregory is a Ruling Elder and teaches youth and adult Sunday School.

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