Pray that God will do what God has done

How do we pray for Israel? How do we pray for our own country? What should we be asking for specifically?

My husband Jim was recently speaking about the issues surrounding the conflict in Israel. Truthfully, peace seems to be an impossibility unless God intervenes. I watch the news reports from some of our significant college campuses. Many of these schools are considered “Ivy League,” and one reporter called these disturbances “Poison Ivy.” 

How do we pray for nations of people to unite when unity isn’t their goal?

First, pray for God’s priorities to become yours.

Jesus taught his followers to pray saying, “Your kingdom come, your will be done,” and then said “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Jesus was teaching them to pray that God would be the ruler, the king of everyone on earth, just as he is the king of heaven. 

God can’t change the hearts of people until they submit to him as their sovereign king. In heaven God is the only king. On earth, we must make the daily, moment-to-moment, free-will choice to make him our king. Even after we have asked Jesus to be our Lord, we must yield to him as Lord while we dwell on this side of heaven.

In other words, the thing we should be praying for when we pray for the nations is that they would realize there is one true God who because of his great love, gave us his only Son. While Jesus was preparing to die, he prayed for the unity of the body of Christ and for all people (John 17). 

We should pray for what Jesus prayed so that God will do what God has done. The book of Acts describes the early Church, the body of new covenant believers, saying, “And all who believed were together and had all things in common” (Acts 2:44).

Second, believe that God will do what God has done.

American Christians tend to underestimate the value of faith and over-estimate the value of hard work. Both are important, but faith matters more. Why?

The author of Hebrews wrote, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

This is a tricky life lesson that I had to learn the hard way. As a busy preacher’s wife, I spent a lot of time doing the work of the ministry. I believed if I was busy, then I was serving God, and he must be pleased with my efforts.

In my personal testimony, I speak about the time I almost died of pneumonia because I just had too much to do to stop and go find a doctor to help me (we had recently moved to Atlanta and I had not yet found a doctor). I just assumed I would get better and kept going with my busy schedule filled with responsibilities I had decided were God’s. 

It took a month to recover, and I spent that time with God. I remember praying a broken prayer. I was working hard but lacked the joy I saw in the book of Acts. I was willing to serve but what was I supposed to be doing? I knew I had been given the Holy Spirit, but I didn’t know if I was Spirit-led. I had godly intentions, but I had placed my faith in my ideas about God rather than trusting his voice to lead.

One of the most important times of my spiritual life was that month I spent learning that God was the king of my life and the director of my path. My ideas had placed me on a treadmill, and I was running hard but never moving forward with God’s plan. My entire life and ministry were changed as a result of learning to place my faith in God’s ideas and not my own.

If we want to learn how God works, look at how God worked in Scripture. He told Moses to step into the Red Sea and trust him and start walking. He told Joshua to step into the flooded Jordan and all would be well. He told Jonah to go to the worst, most violent city and tell his enemies that they were all wrong. He told the disciples to walk away from their profitable fishing business and become fishers of men. 

Why does faith in God matter most? Because God asks us to do some things that we would never do ourselves, apart from our faith in God. If you have never experienced a faith assignment, you are missing out on the most significant joy this life can provide.

God still does what he has done in the past.

Finally, trust God to do great things, because he has done great things.

The conflict in Israel and the conflicts we see on our college campuses seem to have no lasting solutions. That is exactly what the disciples must have felt when the stone was rolled in front of the entrance to Jesus’ tomb. 

The disciples lacked faith, but only until Sunday. They didn’t have the proof that you and I enjoy. But, have we allowed biblical history to guide our faith? Have we trusted in our own thoughts more than God’s? Do we work for God, or do we allow him to work through us?

How will God answer our prayers for the leaders in this world? God will do great things we cannot imagine.

After Stephen’s stoning the church was scattered (Acts 8:1). The young man who was surrounded by the cloaks of others became the great persecutor, the great terrorist, of the New Testament. Saul of Tarsus, with amazing energy and intellect, served his ideas about God rather than God himself. Then Jesus showed up on the road to Damascus and changed everything.

How do we pray for the world leaders of today? How do we pray for the young people on our college campuses? How do we pray for today’s terrorists?

We pray for Jesus to meet them in a miraculous way, just like he met Saul of Tarsus. We pray for the Light of the world to chase away the darkness from the minds of people. We pray for God’s people to be Spirit-led followers of their king. We pray that faith will drive our thoughts and ideas because we know that God wants to do, and will do, what God has always done. The great terrorist of the early Christian church became the great theologian of Scripture. 

How do we pray for our world today? We pray that God will do what God has done.