In this new series, titled, “God and the Nations” we apply Jeremiah 29 to our current times and discuss what it would look like to seek the welfare of the United States and pray to the Lord on it’s behalf. In this episode, we use the prayer from Daniel 9 as a guide to approach God’s throne with both desperation and humility in the midst of uncertain times.
Here are all of the ways that you can follow along with 5 Minutes With Pastor Lutzer:
Transcript: Welcome to “5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer.” Today, I am beginning a six-part series that I have titled, “God and the Nations.” We’re going to be speaking about the origin of nations. I’m going to try to answer this question: Do we elect the president of the United States or does God? After all, the Bible says that God rules in the kingdoms of men. He puts up kings and He brings them down. How do we navigate that? How does God judge nations? Where are they going to end up? You can certainly see how relevant all this is as we think about our present context, no matter where we are in our history as the United States. Now I want to begin today, however, by speaking about praying for the United States—praying for our nation. That’s where we’re going to begin and I encourage you to ask God for a burden for this country because I don’t need to tell you, we are in need of prayer. To think about this I think of the book of Daniel. Very interestingly, when the Jews were taken into captivity and taken to Babylon, God says “pray for the city where you are going to be. Pray for Babylon.” You know my friend, if we were to spend as much time praying for our political enemies, as we do criticizing them, we might be surprised as to what God does. God said, “Pray for Babylon.”
But in the ninth chapter of the book of Daniel, Daniel prays a long prayer and I want to introduce that prayer to you and encourage you to pray it. In this prayer Daniel begins and there are certain themes that are throughout this long prayer. One is the righteousness of God and the great sins of Judah, the people of God. And Daniel begins here, he says, “I turned my face toward the Lord God in prayers and pleas for mercy, with fasting and in sack cloth and ashes. I’ve said this before, but we must understand that fasting is a full body response to God. It is saying—“Oh Lord, we are absolutely desperate.” And now we go to the prayer and let me begin by saying this, that often times we have prayers for our city and we pray, “Oh God, bless the city—bless it we pray. Give our leaders wisdom, we ask.” All that’s good but whenever you have fasting in the Scriptures, as far as I know, it always has to do with repentance. And Daniel encourages us in two ways, number one, he takes full responsibility along with his people for their sins and over and over again he says “We have done this—we have done this.” And then the second thing is, when you go to chapter ten, you discover that there was spiritual resistance. He talks about petitioning God and the angel comes and says—“Your petition was heard from the day you uttered it, but he says “I was hindered from coming to you because the Prince of Persia withstood me.” My friend, today as soon as we pray for our country, what we will discover is that we will experience spiritual opposition. But Daniel didn’t give up; he continued to pray.
I’m going to read a verse or two and then I want you to turn to the ninth chapter whenever you have time, read the entire prayer but substitute “America” where it talks about “Israel” or “Judah” or “the people of God.” But notice what Daniel says, “I prayed to the Lord my God and made intercession, saying, “Oh Lord God, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant (and so forth) and blesses those who love Him”— and then he goes on to say, “to You, Oh Lord, be merciful and forgiving for we have rebelled against you and we have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, walking in His laws…(and so forth).” I want to leave you with my heart today. I believe that no nation has sinned as much as the United States against the light that is available. You can go into any bookstore, you can buy a Bible, you can listen to Christian radio, you can be exposed to the Gospel in many different ways and we have seriously rebelled against God. And as you pray, pray for the nation, but also let’s remember that Daniel prayed for the people of God. Our job might not be so much to reclaim the culture as it is to reclaim the church.
I want to end today with a very brief prayer, to give us a reminder and an example for how we can pray. Would you join me?
Father, we ask in Jesus’ name, that you might help all of us to be repentant—believers, unbelievers, may they be brought to repentance. Oh God, we need you desperately, and we do not seek justice but in your grace, give us mercy even at this late date. We humble ourselves and we cry to you in the name of Jesus, our Lord, Amen. Thanks so much for joining us today. Next time we’re going to talk about the origin of the nations. Where did it all begin? But as for today, my friend, you pray and you go with God.