Withholding Prayer

In recent decades (and perhaps far longer), it has been in vogue for evangelicals (particularly in America) to talk about praying for our country and and governing authorities. Frankly, there has often seemed to me to be an unhealthy dose of nationalism and even prosperity theology behind such talk, and over the past few years, I have wondered whether there might be times when we should not pray for our country and authorities. The prophet Jeremiah, for instance, was told on several occasions (7:16, 11:14, 14:11) not to pray on behalf of Judah because the time of their judgement had come, and in Jeremiah 15:1, God goes so far as to tell him that even the greatest intercessors in Israel’s history could not sway Him from bringing His judgement. This last verse is of particular interest to me; several years ago, I made election day a day of prayer and fasting (as I have often done), and opening to that verse as part of the day’s reading schedule seemed like more than a coincidence. Given certain developments since that time, I have come to suspect more and more that praying for America is indeed a lost cause at this point. Still, I sometimes wonder if I am simply letting pessimism get the better of me.

Any thoughts?

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First, I would say, and this might be a bit controversial. I do not necessarily think God deals with nations in the same way as He did in the Old Testament. So praying for a nation rather than people, I am not sure that is the New Testament approach to intercession.

I would point out 1 Timothy 2 where we are told to pray for our leaders without qualification. We are not told to pray for them because they are deserving or because it is not a lost cause. We are to pray because God would have everyone come to know Him. He has not given up on drawing all men to Himself.

We are even told to pray for those who persecute us and despitefully use us. So I would encourage you to continue to pray for our leaders and those in authority. Don’t allow the appearance of things affect your prayer. We call those things which be not as though they were and we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12).

Our prayer should affect the world in a positive way, the world shouldn’t affect our prayer in a negative way.

I would also be careful with using what God told the prophets to do versus what he would tell a non-prophet to do. Otherwise we may end up sleeping on one side for a prolonged period of time or having to eat things which are deemed “unclean” even by today’s standards.

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;

For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;

Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

1 Timothy 2:1-4

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

Matthew 5:44-46

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I would also have to conclude that we have no marching orders to cease prayer for our leaders. What the Lord may say concerning an individual or individual circumstances may incorporate the need to be still. I have experienced that admonishment. When the Lord has prevailed upon me the need to be still because my prayers would not be received regarding a situation. But even then, it was not permanent. There is only one instance when we are told not to pray that is in the act of blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

But prayer belongs to the relationship with GOD. Therefore I will always pray. I understand that looking at the direction our world is taking can be very depressing. Feels very defeating. However, often, I am reminded that nothing that is happening or will happen presents itself as a surprise or dismay for the Lord. Perhaps something many who feel comfortable in their rebellion truly do not understand. Human fit-throwing, human rebellion, human sin does not prevent GOD from ruling. Does not stop GOD from owning every aspect of life here. We should learn the difference between grace and mercy versus GOD’s authority.

I feel your pessimism. It would be difficult to live in this world if I did not remember what King David declared. I was young and now I am old, but I have never seen the righteous forsaken or GOD’s seed beg bread.

America needs the intercession of prayer. What we should be praying is orchestrated by the heart of GOD; not the will of any politician or political issue. Some one must love GOD enough to love the unlovely. To pray for the un-prayerful. To trust GOD enough to not take their marching orders from a world that continues to fail to fulfill the purpose of its creation. Who will GOD call? His people!

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Well said my friend!!!

It is very hard to feel like praying for our country sometimes, and I often grimace when I hear people say, “Pray for the land and it will be restored.” I definitely understand the sentiment you expressed and am guilty of not praying for our leaders as much as I should.

I am convinced, though, that a big part of the reason our country is where it is is because of a lack of prayer. Prayer for the country, it’s leaders, but also just for people in general. In our country in particular the leaders are byproducts of the the people, both because they are “average citizens” so to speak and because they espouse what “average citizens” want in order to get elected. So if anything I feel like the discouraging things being seen in government and society should be shocks to our system. Not that we would pray simply that God would make us prosper or anything like that; but for genuine repentance and healing.

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Hello,
As a non US citizen living outside the US I see different things about the US that often, many US citizens do not see nor understand. It goes without saying that you are having your trials, especially now with the drama and bitter feuding we see in Washington. While the US has had its share of international challenges and may come under lots of criticism, and no doubt some of it valid and perhaps, more of it less valid. Consider who makes those accusations. I learnt a long time ago that it is not what is said so much as who is saying it. What is the character and nature of the commentator/critic.
We live in world that is caught up in a very serious war for truth and freedom at the moment. This is happening all over the western world at the moment. Nearly every western nation, especially the english speaking ones are under pressure. Behind this is an even more dramatic spiritual war. Two kingdoms are at war. The Lords and the fallen realm including all of its members.
For all of its faults, the US is still a great nation and has great people in it. You have been a bastion for freedoms and truth for thousands of people all over the world. Your founding fathers, while not all believers, stood on Biblical principle and truth. That position is under attack all over the place today with great intensity.
However, you also have many unseen people in your nation standing up for truth in quiet corners and places. These people need prayers for the Lord to hold the nation in check. Never stop praying for the nation or its leaders. As Elijah was reminded by the Lord that the Lord still has 7000 who have not bowed their knee to BAAL, so to is the same today. Prayer for your remnant, for their endurance, strength, encouragement and influence. All our nations need this today more than ever. Most of the western world is only free today because of the greatness of the US during the earlier part of the 20th century. I am thankful for her in the world and pray she continues as l0ng as the Lord has the church in place in this time.

Prayer is the means by which the Lord has chosen to release a very large portion of His power and Grace. Our job is to keep firing that artillery until the battle is won. Stand firm you in the US, We need your strength and you need our prayers. Trust the Lord to do what He will do. You and I just need to do what He has told us to do. Leave the consequences and outcomes to Him.

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