Tag Archives: mission

Two Prayers for America

America is not a chosen nation, but she has many chosen people praying and living with integrity that have helped her be a blessing to the world. Our story also includes horrific compromise of our highest ideals, especially our treatment of the indigenous peoples and African Americans. We can love our land and lament our sins. We can improve our nation without destroying her ideals. And prayer must be underneath the laments and longings for justice.

Prayer is God’s invitation to participate in his divine mission to reconcile and redeem, renew and restore all things. Our almighty, sovereign Lord has decided that our humble petitions, compassionate intercessions, and persevering supplications matter in fulfilling his will on earth as it is in heaven.

Here are two short prayers for our nation. There is no pretense here that just the right words will somehow manipulate God – that would be pagan superstition. Instead, our prayers, in alignment with Holy Scripture and empowered by the Holy Spirit, become a force for good in a world enmeshed in evil. In these days of pandemic and polarization, political passions and personal animosities, humble prayer may make the difference between mercy and judgment for our land.

Prayer for Peace of Mind and Divine Presence in Our Land

O God, you are transcendent and immanent. You are totally other; totally different from us. But you are also Immanuel, God with us. You were delighted to dwell among us in the person of your Son, Jesus Christ. What grace! You are the God who comes close. Lord, come close to our national leaders. Come close to the justices that sit on the Supreme Court. Come close to those in the Senate and in the House of Representatives. Come close to our local leaders – our police departments, mayors, and governors. Come close, dear Master, to those in laboratories that are feverishly developing a vaccine for this virus. Come close, Dear God, to peaceful protestors, the abused, the hungry, the bewildered, the outraged, the motherless, the fatherless, the dying, the mourning, the widow, the disabled, the oppressed, and the immigrant. Lord, come close to us, in cul-de-sacs, hamlets, towns, rural areas, cities, and suburbs.  Come close, dear Lord, to those who are easing back into the workplace with trepidation. Omnipresent Lord, please share your closeness with all of us, everyone on the face of this globe. In Jesus’ majestic and mighty name, Amen.

Prayer for Humility and Wisdom

O Lord, you are infinite and intimate, and the Source of all that is good. You promised wisdom for the humble who seek you and search for truth. You promised wisdom as we pray and trust you. Your wisdom is pure, peaceable, and leads to peacemaking and righteousness. Lord, we need your wisdom as we confront the injustices all around us and the unrighteousness in our own hearts. We need wisdom to lament and repent well. We need your wisdom to cultivate new relationships across all the barriers in our world. We need wisdom to reform social structures that keep millions from flourishing. We need wisdom for our businesses, churches, families, communities, cities, and nation. We humbly plead that you will grant wisdom. We also accept your wisdom from the mouths of the marginalized and oppressed, the voices of history, and the prophets calling us to holiness. And we thank you in advance for your generosity toward us, even when it means surgery in our souls. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Americans, indigenous , African Americans, justice, Holy Spirit, mission, nation, prayer, Senate, House of Representatives, virus, police, wisdom

Are We in the End times?

In recent weeks, several friends and leaders have asked about the current circumstances and their relationship to biblical prophecy and the “end times.” Space does not permit analysis of all the perspectives, books and videos, and many voices vying for attention. I have prayerfully distilled some insights that I hope will be helpful. I am synthesizing biblical, historical, and contemporary voices:

  • We have been in the “final hour” since the Resurrection of Jesus and the outpouring of the Spirit. There have been many antichrist figures and movements and many amazing awakenings and missionary advances. Such will be the case until the Lord returns in glory. We will see great apostasies and great awakenings, global advances of the church and tragic unfaithfulness from many.
  • The natural disasters and supernatural warfare are all previews or precursors of the final Day of the Lord. Other generations of believers have suffered greatly and advanced the kingdom under severe persecution and economic challenge. America is not the center of biblical attention – we are one of the “distant lands” and must humbly accept that we are both blessed and subject to divine judgment.
  • God has called us to occupy well until Jesus comes. The Lord wants us alert and prayerful, on duty for him…as we do our everyday assignments on the frontlines of mission. Our daily work – home or office, field or factory, labor or leadership, paid or unpaid – is not merely a means to an end…it is part of the divine economy and providential provision for our community as well as our families. “Watch and pray” is a clarion call to intercession and discernment.
  • We must be ready at any moment to give an account to God (Luke 12). Rather than speculate or live selfishly, our Lord has called us as exiles to live faithfully as missionary believers and communities, seeking the good of our communities and nations (Jer. 29). We may feel alienated or marginalized, but we have great power through humility and loving service.
  • We are not to run to our bunkers or head to the hills, but be salt and light (Matthew 5), and shining stars in a wicked world (Philippians 2). We are the mustard seed and the yeast in Jesus’ parables of the kingdom (Matthew 13), influencing all facets of our world for the God’s glory and the good of others.
  • It is not wrong to wonder if we are very close to Christ’s Return – we are!  It is the next great event in God’s restoration calendar. We should have a sense of anticipation – and plant trees for our grandchildren. We should be urgent about sharing our faith – and earn the right to be heard by how we live.

Jesus saves the whole person – body, soul, and spirit. Jesus is also redeeming all of creation and every community. There will be continuity between our current work for him and our future work in the new heavens and new earth (Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright and Randy Alcorn’s 700-page work on heaven give solid insights here). We can reject apathy and triumphalism, keep fear away and allow faith to inform our vision invite others to the Gospel journey of faithfulness.

Advent and Work: Insights from the Nativity for Pastors

Jews and Christians celebrate the good works of the Creator, from the macro- and microcosmos to the intricacies of the human person being shaped in their mother’s womb (Psalms 19 and139). Ancient Israel was encouraged to remember the works of the Lord (Isaiah 40-43) and Christians are focused the central work of Jesus: his death on the Cross and victorious resurrection (I Corinthians 15). 

The Advent story reveals three further attributes of God’s work that can help us in ours. The first is God’s motivation for the Incarnation: love. This agape disposition of desiring the highest good for others and sacrificially laboring for their welfare is the foundation for all of God’s works (John 3:16). As we go to work, do we love our colleagues and customers, even the nasty ones? God does. Do we offer our labor as worship, or merely getting by until the weekend (Colossians 3:17-24)?

The second attribute is humility. As Pastor Justin Buzzard has said in a recent article at Made to Flourish (www.madetoflourish.org/resources), humility is the one thing God honors. In contrast, pride brings divine resistance! As we go about our work, are we celebrating others, helping advance the mission apart from our position, and seeking god’s glory and the good of others? Humility is not self-hatred; it is sober reflection on ourselves and warm affection for others (Romans 12:3-8).

God’s Advent work teaches us another lesson for our daily duties: The Lord loves using all kinds of beautiful and broken people to accomplish his work in the world. Matthew and Luke’s Nativity narratives display humble women, poor shepherds, aged prayer warriors, and an overwhelmed couple willing to accept the Lord’s word in the midst of familial and social misunderstanding (Matthew 1-2; Luke 1-2). Can we see past status and learn from anyone, even helping others realize their potential at our expense?

Love, humility, and a willingness to learn from anyone will help our daily work be infused with adventure and meaning, even as we wrestle with boredom, repletion, imperfect systems, and selfish people. God is the First Worker (Genesis 1-2; Psalm 33) and he models actions and attitudes worthy of our aspirations. Practically, we can live these principles as we pray for others, model good teamwork, and encourage all around us.