I’m working on a theory. It just occurred to me yesterday when I was home for lunch, and Diane and the girls were about to pray for Tehran. (They are praying for the world as part of their homeschooling curriculum.)
Here’s my idea: I wonder if God is especially pleased when we give ourselves to prayer for things that don’t have an immediate or obvious benefit to us. Praying for Iran or any other nation would seem to fit this category.
Mind you, whether or not there is special pleasure in the heart of God, I have no doubt that we are called to pray for others and for the nations, as Psalm 67 leads us. But there is also Scripture which promises blessing to those who will live, and fast, for others, especially for those who are downtrodden. Many years ago, my heart was moved by the great truths of Isaiah 58…
Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard…
Isaiah 58: 6 – 8 (ESV)
I urge you to read the whole chapter to get the context, but suffice it to say: the incredible promised blessings for those who will live (and pray?) and fast for others continue in this passage.
All this leads me to thinking about the National Day of Prayer. It’s tomorrow, and I wonder if many Christians won’t take part because, well, they’re busy, of course; but when you get right down to it – “Praying for revival in our nation doesn’t have an immediate effect on my personal life. Maybe an hour of prayer for our children or an hour of prayer for family finances, or an hour of prayer for…”
Well, to this line of thinking, I would like to say…to be sure, we want to pray for our kids and our wallets, but perhaps praying for a country in great need of spiritual reformation would be the very best thing we could do for our kids and our wallets and every other aspect of our lives. Maybe thinking and praying about the hungry and poor and naked, both physically and spiritually, will bring great glory to God and move His Hand to visit our nation. And oh, how we need such a visit.