2017-07-12 / Faith

What do you say; let’s pray!

Lessons from the Heart
By Pastor John Drexler

Drexler Drexler There are many great prayers in the Old Testament. Certainly the Book of Psalms is replete with them, but there are others from Moses to the prophets where God’s anointed petition a faithful God for forgiveness and deliverance.

Two of the most poignant are those of Daniel and Nehemiah (both, incidentally, in chapter nine of the books that bear their name). Using Nehemiah as a model perhaps it is time for the Christian Church in America to fervently pray for our country and its leaders. Actually, we are commanded to do the latter in First Timothy 2:1-2, “I urge then first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone, for kings and all those in authority…”

As painful as this may seem, no mater what our political leaning, it is our Christian responsibility to pray for our President and Vice-President, Representatives Ryan and Pelosi and Senators Schumer and Mc- Connell as well as those in local government. (I believe this should also include our police, firefighters, military and National Guard). Remember that Paul wrote this to the persecuted church in the desperate days of Nero!

Nehemiah’s prayer begins in verse five of chapter nine and for the next ten verses he proclaims how glorious and faithful God is and had been to Israel. Through verse 15 he cites no less than 21 examples of God’s provisions for His people. However, beginning in verse 16, he employs the expression, “But they…” to delineate the rebellion and thanklessness of the recipients of His blessings (this expression appears in verses 16, 26, 28, and 29 with a slight variation in verse 30 (“yet they”). Even through all that, God remained faithful. Nehemiah reminded us all, “but in your great mercy you did not put an end to them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.” (vs. 31).

In the final strophe’ he stated, “we did wrong” (vs. 33) and almost fearfully reminded God that He is a just God and faithful to His promises even if those promises require His disciplining His people. Previously, in chapter one, Nehemiah confessed his own sins as well as the sins of his family before declaring those of the nation. In a similar way, Daniel, in his great prayer for national forgiveness (Daniel 9), uses the pronouns “we” and “our” repeatedly so as not to excuse himself from any blame.

Daniel’s final request (vs. 18-19) is one we too should pray, “We do not make request 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, Oh my God, do not delay…”

So should we pray, confess our guilt and then the guilt of the nation? At the same time we should plead with God for His mercy on a nation, though not His chosen people, still a nation He has richly blessed and which has sought to abandon any knowledge of Him. And when we pray, ask with willing hearts what we can do to help restore God to His once revered place in America.

John Drexler is the pastor of the First Brethren Church of Burlington.

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