The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live. He wants not only us but everyone saved, you know, everyone to get to know the truth we’ve learned: that there’s one God and only one, and one Priest-Mediator between God and us—Jesus, who offered himself in exchange for everyone held captive by sin, to set them all free. (1 Timothy 2:1-6, The Message)
I’m grateful one of our Vestry members reminded me that today, May 6th, is the National Day of Prayer. You may not be aware, but this annual observance was instituted in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. The first national call to prayer was 1775, “when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation” (www.nationaldayofprayer.org/about).
I encourage you to respond to this call by spending time today praying for our nation. There are a number of resources available. In fact, simply google “prayers for our nation,” and you’ll find a plethora of prayers! Within the Anglican Way, turn to pages 657-661 in our Book of Common Prayer 2019 for a range of prayers specifically for the United States and for society in general. And “The Great Litany” found on page 91 is always a powerful form of prayer.
Liturgies and written prayers aren’t necessary, of course. You can simply ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in interceding for our nation. The Spirit already “intercedes for us with groanings to deep for words” (Romans 8:26); we can ask for grace to join in that prayer. As you do so, I encourage you to listen before you begin. We each have our own yearnings and agendas for our country. Express and surrender those to the Lord, then ask him to guide you in how to pray for the various divisions, conflicts, issues, communities, and people in the United States. Include prayers for those who walk on the other side of the political divide, and be open to the Lord’s convicting and redirecting your own heart.
Finally, please ask the Lord to reveal to Immanuel how we are to participate with him as he answers the prayer, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in the United States as it is in heaven.” Even as I write this, I’m reminded of Jesus’ words in Matthew 9:36-38: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’” The listening disciples were themselves part of the answer to that prayer. So are we.
The Lord be with you. Let us pray.
Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure conduct. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom, in thy Name, we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all of which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(“For Our Nation”, p. 657, BCP 2019)
Your Pastor in Christ,