A prayer for our country

How do we pray for our country and its leaders, current and future? Does our vote really matter? And for whom do we vote? Can we or our prayers help turn the tide of our nation? If you’re seeking answers for any of these questions, here’s a prayer that might help!

Lord God, we desperately need your wisdom. You have given us a great country, founded on principles and truths from Your Word. We need men and women who will honor You, trust You, and lead us once again back to You. We pray for servant leaders who love the things You love and who care more about others than themselves.

Give us leaders with discerning hearts, bold faith, and wise minds that model Your character. Teach them—and us—not just what is good, but what is best. Guide them in the way our country should go. Give them purity in their intentions, and godliness in their convictions. Energize their spirits and bodies physically and spiritually, and keep them emotionally secure in the knowledge of who You are—and whose they are. Help them to be bighearted and sincere, energetic in goodness, and courteous in their manners.

Raise up leaders with the greatest potential of godly leadership, those who can ease confusion, expose illusion, and heal delusion. You alone hold the power to turn the hearts of leaders, but You listen and use our prayers to move them into right action. Help us to be faithful to care and to pursue Your heart in prayer.

SEE ALSO: A Prayer for Peace Within

Help our leaders to be quick to admit failure, but ready to rebound in persistent resilience. Encourage them to choose wisely, and when they don’t know what to do, help them keep their eyes on You. Let them take a firm stand on issues that truly matter to You, regardless of the consequences or approval ratings. Make them God-pleasers, not puppets; leaders filled with conviction, not corruption.

As a nation, God, help us to desire righteousness more than rights, and to mirror sacrifice more than selfishness. You know us well, and You understand our flaws. Turn those weaknesses into strengths; bathe us with Your grace and mercy, though none of us deserve it. Fill us with the boldness to choose the kind of freedom that will benefit all, rather than a few. Open our eyes to see others as You do—with godly potential and value. But help us, too, to recognize our own pride in trying to elevate ourselves and others above You and Your purpose for our lives.

We need, You, God. Oh, how we need You! You have exercised nothing but faithfulness and fairness in Your treatment of our country, even when we’ve turned our back on You and forgotten Your goodness to us. Your discipline at times is hard, but You are just. Your purpose is always to draw us close to You, to bless us, and to make us a great nation who honors You. You are a good, good, Father—and Your love for us has a proven track record.

Forgive us for wanting our own way and making our own paths—often the ones paved with least resistance. Forgive us for fence-walking, or for ignoring completely the truths that can so easily set us free. Deliver us from mindless quarrels and destinations that lead us nowhere, but away from You. Free us from divisiveness, and melt our hardened hearts to love, not hate, and to heal, not debate.

SEE ALSO: A Prayer for When Things Seem Hopeless & Chaotic

Our history has cried for king-like leaders who will solve our problems and meet our needs. But there is only one King, and that is You, Lord. We have blindly sought answers from others to life’s unresolved questions through the years, but You are the only wise Counselor. We have longed for peace, but You are the only Peacemaker, and the only Prince of Peace. We’ve clung to our weapons of warfare, not as measures of defense, but as strongholds of selfish pride. We look at outward appearances; You see the heart. With You, nothing formed against us can prosper. Without You, we are nothing.

Make us a great nation, yes. But more than that, make us good, Lord, with a heartbeat that wants every person of every creed and color to know Your love, Your goodness, and Your worth. Make us wise as serpents, but gentle as doves. Turn our fears to faith, as we look to You and You alone for the future of our country. Give us God-confidence that no matter what happens, we will believe You are not only in control, but that You know exactly what is needed to accomplish Your purpose. Help us not to second-guess Your moves, but to move at Your command, always without hesitation.

We look to You and to You, only, Lord. Help us make wise decisions that move our country in the right direction. Help us to do our part in praying and in staying with what we know is right according to the truth of Your Word. Teach us to make our actions count and our words matter, and line them both up to Your sense of rightness, not ours. Guide us with Your eye; grip us with Your strong arm; teach us what we need to know to make our lives—and our nation—count for you. We pray for our leaders, but we ask You to make us both leaders and followers: leading in the way of Truth, and following those who honor You.

In the precious and powerful name of Jesus,
Amen

SEE ALSO: Prayers for Strength

Rebecca Barlow Jordan is an inspirational author, speaker, and passionate follower of Jesus who loves to encourage others heart to heart. She has written 11 books and over 1700 other articles, greeting cards, and other inspirational pieces. Her daily devotional Daily in Your Presence is available for delivery through Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Rebecca at www.rebeccabarlowjordan.com.

Publication date: February 2, 2016

This article is part of our larger Prayers resource meant to inspire and encourage your prayer life when you face uncertain times. Visit our most popular prayers if you are wondering how to pray or what to pray. Remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and God knows your heart even if you can’t find the words to pray.

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Dear Heavenly Father,

You are a sovereign God, and You do no wrong. You alone are in complete control of us and our lives, and for that, we are not only ungrateful, but we often try to take that control away from You. Forgive us for our despicable, selfish attitudes, and be merciful to us. We are all sinful creatures full of hate and anger. The world, and more specifically America, has become entirely reliant upon the state of our country, on our fellow citizens, and on our leaders. You gave us these things to remind us of how we ought to glorify You, and we have turned this life into a twisted, sinful, disgraceful mess. Give us all hearts of love for those around us and hearts of prayer for those who lead us.

I confess that I have a heart of hate and an attitude of negativity and pride, particularly towards this year’s election. Keep me from these things, and give me the desire to see success in our government and a willingness to trust You. I pray especially for the people who are representing our country and facing so much pressure and scrutiny right now. We spend too much time tearing them down. Teach us to see them through Your eyes and to wish success for them. Give us humility, and give us peace. When the votes have been tallied, let us accept and support the decision of our democracy. Whatever our preference, keep us from smugness or anger at the outcome. Instill in us a trust that exceeds our human understanding.

To those who are running for office, ANY office, grant the same peace. May they realize that You are in control and that You are good. Give them wisdom, and teach them kindness and humility. They are people, Your creations. Whether or not they realize that, give them Your holy peace. May each decision they make be beneficial and wise. Love them with Your perfect love, and open their eyes to Your redeeming mercy that is new each day. May Your words be spoken out of the mouths of those around them. I pray that Your Holy Spirit’s presence is known and wanted in our Capitol, in the lives of those who represent our country, and in the lives of all they come in contact with.

You knew what this year and the rest would hold before time began. Give us the peace and faith to believe that and be satisfied. Your plan is perfect, and all things will work together for the good of those who love You. Use your Holy Spirit to remind us and everyone else of that every day. Give us hearts that desire only what You desire. Work in the lives of those who are representing us and those who lead us. Teach them to lead with Godly power and wisdom, and teach us to follow them. Give us attitudes that glorify you, and may the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing to You.

www.theodysseyonline.com
a prayer for our country

Detail from a 1776 prayer to reverse King George’s wrath against the colonies in North America (CC via the Open Siddur Project)

Open almost any Jewish prayer book in America and among the traditional Jewish prayers dating back to biblical and rabbinic ages, there are usually two additional prayers that are much more modern: the “Prayer for the State of Israel” and “Prayer for Our Country/Welfare of the Government.” Both of these prayers exalt the strengths of the nations, pray for the wisdom, compassion and foresight of their leaders, and call upon the judiciousness of heavenly favor so that the nations and their people be granted peace and prosperity from generation to generation. These prayers, which are read sometimes in Hebrew, many times in English, are often read both collectively and responsively by the congregation.

I have been thinking a lot of these prayers recently because, in candor, I have generally been more focused on the prayer for Israel than the prayer for my country (the United States). Israel always seems to be deserving attention of my prayers, particularly given its relative youth as a modern state, the tough neighborhood in which it is located, and the myriad of complex domestic and foreign issues it faces as both a Jewish and democratic state. America, on the other hand, though it is still a relatively young nation, has the strength of a global superpower, freedom from conflict on its borders, and a stable system of government that is grounded in predictability of process, systems of checks and balances, and peaceful transitions of power (and thankfully, fewer periodic elections).

Yet, over the past few weeks and months, I have felt deeply uneasy with the realization that the “Prayer for My Country” is more important than perhaps I have realized. Falling into the easy appreciation of what makes our country so exceptional, I lost sight of the difficult understanding that our country too faces complexities and challenges that demand not only vigilance, but also thoughtful and aspirational reflection of spirit (which is how I define prayer). To pray for other nations (even Israel) without focusing on a prayer for my own homeland is at least an act of hubris and, even more so, irresponsible.

While this presidential election has been the catalyst for this personal realization, I should have realized it much sooner. The language of divisiveness and an increasing polity of polarization have been ripping at our seams for too long. The overwhelming trends of racial injustice and economic inequality, as well as the increasing exclusion of far too many individuals from opportunities of a quality education and economic advancement, are derailing the sense of common cause that have been the root of America’s exceptionalism. Simultaneously, trends related to the way we engage with each other in social and spiritual ways leave us (paradoxically) more technically connected and spiritually isolated than ever before. All of these trends demand as much unyielding daily action as they do impassioned daily prayer, yet spiritual reflection is nonetheless something that can only help, not hurt, in the acceleration of our country’s arc toward progress.

That isn’t to say I don’t think many people have been praying recently. In these final days of a long and acrimonious campaign, no doubt many of us are praying for “our candidate” (whichever that candidate is) to win. However, perhaps among those personal payers, we need to also realize that praying for our country is more than just a prayer for our person or party. Whoever wins the election on Tuesday will need to be enveloped in the same aspirations of goodness that we aspire to grant to the person we prefer to lead our country.

Regardless who wins, we will need to think, reflect, act and pray for a healthy re-weaving of the fabric of our country that can make it truly strong and indivisible. Yes, campaigns, by their nature, cause fragmentation, but intentional acts of consciousness and compassion tend to heal, and as we move past November 8, our collective appeals for a better and interdependent future will be imperative.

During the Civil Rights movement, two great leaders of faith and action, Martin Luther King Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, locked both souls and arms, marching together in Selma at one of the seminal moments of that era. Speaking of that march in Selma, Rabbi Heschel famously remarked, “I felt like my legs were praying.” And he was right, they were, and as a result, the world changed, including an increased impetus for the passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. This week, by walking (or riding) to our polls, our nation will once again have a chance to pray with their feet and to undertake one of the great privileges of humankind (further secured by the Voting Rights Act) — the privilege of exercising the sacred and civil right to vote for our leaders.

Then that day too shall pass, and every day thereafter we will have the ability to also undertake a sacred privilege to pray with our voices and our hearts, for the nation we live in and the kind of people we wish to become. I know that I will be praying for my country much more intently now, and I pray you will be too — it will take all of us to aspire to be the best of us. And perhaps if we act, and pray, together, our prayer of our country will be more than an aspiration — it will become a reality.

blogs.timesofisrael.com

Prov. 6:16–19 There are six things which the Lord hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.

James 1:19–21 This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.

Creator, Sovereign, Lord of all, help us.

Though we do not deserve it,

We humbly ask for Your mercy

That You bless this country we dearly love.

Protect us from our enemies

We ask not merely for ourselves, but for our children

Not merely for our children, but for their children

Protect us from ourselves

May we never

exercise the strength of tyrants

misuse talents entrusted to us

or lord over those allotted to our charge

We pray for our country and all it represents

Our men & women overseas, keeping an oath they swore

For their families who keep watch and pray

For all who lead, govern, and serve

For our first responders who engage wrongdoers

For citizens to avoid appearances of evil

Our marriages, families, common sense and moral restraint to keep Your covenants.

Faithful God, thank You

That You look at us and see Your Son’s work

And thank You, that You even hear our prayers.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

michaelincontext.com

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