A Basic Guide to Prayer and Action in a Declining Country

A Basic Guide to Prayer and Action in a Declining Country.

Public calls to pray seem to have lessened, but the need to pray and act are rising. Prayer, of course, if disconnected from appropriate action, is like walking with one leg. It can be done, but anyone who has lost a limb will tell you that it is a lot harder. So, prayer and action are in order. I will briefly make suggestions for both. Why is all this a concern? The US is a declining country, having lost a sense of its moral underpinnings that are, to some extent, biblically based. We are not the first nation or institution with a decline, and we won’t be the last. If it is where you reside, however, it becomes important to know what to do. There is no fast fix, if it can be fixed. I say “if” because in many cases the declining countries never return to their first aims, regardless of what they say in their founding documents. It is a harsh reality, and the Bible shows plenty of examples of that harsh reality. Regardless, there is much to be done by believers.  This brief article talks about it and makes some recommendations.

There is an important starting point. When names of leaders of any kind come to mind (from President to the household adults next door, pray for them, no matter what their party or home or belief system is like.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

The godly and the ungodly need prayer, just like all of us need rain upon the earth. You cannot pray for your neighbor and proceed to gossip about him or write nasty things about the same person or situation on social media. From neighbor to President, each can be dead wrong about something and be completely unbiblical in the conduct of life, but each might still be your neighbor. If you hold the life of Christ in your heart seriously, then handle your life appropriately before your neighbor or your leader. A neighbor may even disagree with you and do grievous things but treating them like dirt is inconsistent with the Bible. Why say this? Because, if you intend to pray, start by repenting of anything you have said or done that might get in the way. And do you have a problem with sin? If you are not sure, read Galatians 5:16-21 or 1 Timothy 3:1-5. Then, if you detect sin, repent so your heart can be right. Then your prayer can be heard. Then your actions, when you take them, will not be motivated from the wrong starting point.

It is very difficult to pray for people if your own practices are unbiblical, even if it is only media that is involved. One of the biggest areas that shows hypocrisy is the private use of electronic media. Don’t expect to pray about moral problems if you spend time in front of a screen that is full of immoral things. So, if you receive or send gossip, look at pornography, or conduct immoral relationships in some fashion in media, then will the King of Kings regard your prayer? It would be best to deal with those things or you will not be able to correctly see the need around you or pray effectively for others.

Matthew 7:5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

So, with a good and repentant heart, how can we proceed?

First, relative to biblical truth, see where we are in our nation. Here is how I see some critical points:

—Our moral slide as a nation continues as biblical standards are increasingly severed from institutions, policies, and laws. The deterioration cited in Romans 1 is occurring rapidly. It stems from a societal denial that God has any importance or even exists.

—God’s definition of biblical marriage, the God-created differences of male and female, and God’s statements about creation or sustainment of the world are, for the most part, unappreciated or outright denied. These topics are foundational, begin in Genesis, and are treated numerous times throughout the Bible. These three form the structure of and culture around the core social unit of people, which is the family.  It is breaking down or it is being redefined in unbiblical terms, which is also a breakdown.

—The impact affects those most vulnerable: the young, the unborn, the fatherless, the oppressed or those increasingly damaged. There is an increasing lack of godly parents, families, or mentors. As the general presence and influence of God-ordained marriages and families in communities become less prominent, the result is an absence of fathers who guide, mothers who nurture, and children without any sense of home or safety. It automatically follows that the populous reflects increasing sin that is more acceptable or popular rather than right living.

—Biblical faith-based work, conducted by big organizations or down to the individual groups of believers and families, is becoming more difficult or under attack when they are doing what they do best: give their time and money to love, be hospitable, share the Gospel, exhort, and be available to address practical needs around them through the faith they have in Jesus Christ.

Second, pray. Here are some basics:

  1. Pray for government leadership nationally, although state and local leadership is just as important, because the local level is where families live. Pray for a God-fearing attitude among those in authority. When names come to mind or you read of them, pray for them without partiality to their party or position or moral conduct. They all need prayer and they need God even more.
  2. Pray for school boards, teachers, and citizens involved in local parent or teacher organizations or social services, because they affect the vast majority of children in your local community. Their actions tend to change even faster than laws can change because of the threat of litigation or verbal threats from people supporting unrighteous positions. It is not easy to hold to reasonable positions when the threats come. So, pray for God-fearing people in these kinds of positions. If they are not God-fearing, pray that they become God-fearing. The more local and direct the prayers become, then names and personalities get specific. They need prayer. They affect a lot of children — your children or your neighbor’s children, who play with your children.
  3. Pray for God-fearing young people in school (from homeschool to large public schools) to hold to biblical standards of behavior. If you know the parent or parents or guardians looking after them, pray for them when they come to mind or, especially, if they are your neighbor (they cross your path).

Third, take action. You might be surprised by what I suggest, because it gets very practical. I am not speaking of action in a traditional idea of church or social group action, because if actions do not start within a household, then actions by a larger group of people will do no better. This applies to single people also, because they have made a home of some sort. In that light, here are some basics for personal actions that affect everything you do or say in more public positions:

  1. Stay in the Bible. It is food for the soul and a guide for your path. Yes, the Holy Spirit can direct, but if you neglect the Word, who knows what direction your path will take or what voices you might think are right? Each of us has no more time during a day than anyone else. Saying there is not time for the Word is a question of wrong priorities, not a lack of time. If you need help establishing some basic patterns, I can give you one that works for me. In the end, biblical guidelines and commands are the foundation for proper action.
  2. Be hospitable, which will more than likely be exercised at or through your home. If your home is like this, you will do the same thing wherever you go. Most serious introductions to Christianity and advances in Christian spiritual lives are because of someone took the time to give personal encouragement or help when it was needed in a private setting. Where you live is the place where that is most likely going to happen. Deliberate hospitality means your heart looks outward from where you live, because Christ’s love is apparent to you and real enough to share with someone around your table or where your paths take you. The home, and that sense of home you have with God, is what you really communicate to others, which is the witness of God’s love. If your home is closed, your heart probably does not effectively see the needs of others.
  3. Resist evil and do not sin. Do not disengage with God on the hard things that you know are besetting to you. Victory over sins of the flesh and mind generally are not always easily won. Nevertheless, stay in the fight. Realize that the fight never stops. If you have a hard time with a sin, get a friend’s help and be mutually accountable. What are the sins that easily beset? That is easy. Look at the tendencies the lead to the list of obvious sins that are listed in Romans 1:16 to the end of the chapter. It is often said (and I say this, too) that this section of Romans is looking more and more like moral decline in the US. But all those things in their infancy are things that were besetting sins that were small but never repented of or corrected. Be wise, then, and watch your steps.
  4. With these first three actions in progress (not necessarily complete), you have something to walk out before your friends and contacts. Look for opportunity to share the love of God and the message of the Gospel. Look especially to those people that God expresses as important: orphans, fatherless, widows, children, those in poverty without food or clothing, and the oppressed.

If you are seriously available before God to make a difference, He will cause you to pray, see need, and take action. If you have ever missed opportunities, then you are not alone. I have missed opportunities.  So, if we mess up, we get it right with Him, and we keep walking. Maybe you will visit local authorities and pray for them. Maybe you will write letters. Maybe you will be the next God-empowered voice as a school board member. Perhaps you want to run for a position or help someone who is running. Maybe you will encourage a hurting or lost neighbor or young person. Your prayerful influence on them may take shape in their career or their positions. Maybe the searching teen that came to your house seeking help and counsel will become the next senator or community leader or lead a group of believers. Maybe the next people around your table will get closer to our God and be instrumental in the redemptive processes among those who are damaged or oppressed because you took the time to love them.

We, as well the people we pray for, are changed one person at a time as time passes. Persistent prayer from a clean heart, coupled with simple hospitable actions to those who cross our paths, can bring change to those we touch. Leaving a prayerful, right-living witness for those around us has a powerful affect. The parable of the unjust judge (Luke 18:1-8) is our hope — even when the local political or judicial leadership does not regard the God of the Bible.

Whether our or any country recovers from moral decline or not, we are charged to be faithful to Him and His Word. So, keep your lives, pray for others, and act when there is opportunity. If it affects enough people around us, neighborhoods, communities, states, or even nations can be positively affected. And, if they don’t change, we will have been a declaration that God is faithful but also righteous, having lived with clean hearts, fervent prayers, and faith-based actions that will be pleasing to Him.

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  1. Amen! Well stated.

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