Pray for America?

Has America ever asked you to pray for “her”? Me neither. So why do we hear the phrase “pray for America”? Like it’s a sick person coughing and sneezing in need of healing. Does America breathe air and bleed blood like the rest of us? This doesn’t make sense to me as a Christian.

I’ve heard people say that America is a land built on a Christian foundation. They believe the forefathers were faithful Christians who wanted to have a Christian nation. And now, those same people worry that America is on a road path to destruction. That if Christians don’t turn this country around by bringing the culture back to God, His hand will strike against this nation for its sins.

If you’re one of my non-American readers, I know you’re probably feeling lost right now. Don’t worry; we’ll be all meeting back up at scripture soon.

I have to be honest. I don’t bow my head in prayer for America. If America is an empire destined to fall like Rome someday, so be it. My only loyalty is to God. If anything, we shouldn’t be saying “Pray for America”. What we should really be saying is “Pray for Christians”. “Pray for the unsaved souls”. It’s people who need our prayers in these trying times. Not America.

The US is the only country I know of that has citizens who tie faith and patriotism together. But we need to look back at the scripture to what matters. Oh look! My non-American readers have met up with us again (waves). Glad to have you guys back with us.

All things for the Gospel

1 Corinthians 9:23-25 “I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it. 24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.”

All things for the sake of the Gospel. Not for the sake of our country, not for the sake of our politics, not for the sake of our race or gender, but all things for the sake of the Gospel. We run this race to reach an imperishable prize. Let us all make that prize the focus of our sight. With hands raised in prayer for the hopes of many souls to receive. As far as I know, America has no soul.

Peace to all those who are in Christ.

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22 thoughts on “Pray for America?

  1. Paul does encourage us to pray for our leaders to rule well in 1 Timothy 2 and in Jeremiah the Israelites are encouraged to pray for the peace and prosperity of the land in which they are exiled, so I can understand where people are coming from when they pray ‘for America’.

    That said, as someone who lives in the UK, I do find the religious right quite a troubling phenomena, along with the confusion of national culture and Christianity that appears to be the case in the US. I think separation of church and state is not a bad thing (something we do not have here with the established Church of England).

    Totally agree that our motivation in all things should be the gospel- a great reminder in these polarised political times!

    • Hi Graham. Thank you for your comment. Yes, we’re certainly encouraged to pray for the people in positions of leadership over us. I think of that as a different thing from praying for a country. As far as the generalization of the passage in Jeremiah, I’m not really one for generalizing specific situations of a specific people as Christian teaching unless there’s specific teaching of such, but I respect others operate in that form of interpretation sometimes.

      Yes, I find it unreasonable of the religious right to think it’s necessary to institute Christian teachings into law. Everyone should be given the same freedom to come to God and follow His ways just as they themselves made the same choice to do so on their own. But yes, definitely important overall that the gospel is our central motivation.

      Peace in Christ. 🙂

  2. Well, lots of other countries have had national faiths, so I don’t think you can say the US is the only country which ties patriotism to faith. By making it as wide as “faith” instead of “Christianity” you’re forgetting a handful of countries ruled by a theocracy. The other problem is that the US is one of the only countries with such rabid patriotism. And it’s not even close to deserved – we’ve been horrible to other countries for a long time and it appears we just screwed the entire world over with our antics last November. Most country’s population has a healthy sense of self-reflection we don’t seem to have.

    • Hi jchoyt. Thank you for your comment. Given my citing of Christian scripture, I didn’t feel it was necessary to explicitly state that distinction. But yes, I was meaning Christianity and patriotism with my comment on the US. As far as the history of the US, certainly many questionable acts upon different groups of people that were very much reprehensible. But hopefully we all learn from history in the thinking and the actions we choose to exhibit in the future.

      Peace in Christ. 🙂

  3. I think “praying for America” and “praying for our leaders” is sort of splitting hairs. While the Bible doesn’t tell us to pray for America, it does tell us to pray for our leaders. Just as the church is comprised of people, our country is made up of people… and since we are to pray for people, why not pray for America as a whole? Since our government leads the country, why not pray for them altogether? Here’s a good article by Franklin Graham, tying them together: https://billygraham.org/decision-magazine/october-2014/praying-for-our-leaders/.

    And a couple verses, which I think may be cited in the article:
    1 Timothy 2:1-2 – “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”
    Jeremiah 29:7 – “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

      • I do. From early childhood back in the 1950s, we were taught to pledge (vow) allegiance (fidelity, loyalty, devotion) to the US republic. This is government worship, and it is in our patriotic songs and hymns which are sung in the church, too. When I grew up, we pledged to the flag in church, too, for the flag sat at the front of the room where our worship services and the preaching of the Word were conducted. It was a room designated as the “sanctuary,” which we were taught was like the “holy of holies,” i.e. where we came into the presence of God, though I now know that is false, for his sanctuary is in our hearts. This government worship has been so central in public education, in the home, and in the church, that it has led many to believe whatever their leaders and the media tell them, so that they don’t question what is being fed them, and that is dangerous! The real danger, I believe, is not only that we were taught unquestionable and undying allegiance to our government, but that government worship and worship of God were so closely intertwined so that it was difficult to separate the two, and that is where the real danger comes into play. What this does is open the church wide to the worship of man, and to the worship of false teachers, and wolves in sheep’s clothing, and even the beast. We should not think for a moment that this was not purposeful, either, to get Christians to worship their government with undying devotion and with hand over heart. God is the ONLY ONE who should get this kind of worship, devotion, loyalty and fidelity.

      • Yes, I think it’s entirely possible for one to idolize his or her country. In fact, anyTHING can be idolized – it’s just a matter of how a person chooses to see/view/think about that thing (perspective). I think it’s natural to find one’s identity in his culture/nationality, so if you’re a Christian living in America, it’s just part of who you are… why not be concerned with the country in which you live?

        Jesus tells us to “love our neighbors,” which to me means those closest to me, the people I come into contact with on a daily basis (not just the people who live next door)… I attend a local church where we care for each other’s needs and those of the community… and we pray for and try to effect change on a local level (city and state)… and we hear about all the things happening in the nation… (and of course around the world)… and though I am jaded and cynical about the current American climate I wouldn’t necessarily stop myself from praying “for America” simply because it doesn’t tell me to do so specifically in the Bible. However, I do agree that we should be focusing our prayers on its people, which brings me back to my earlier point – America is its people. I don’t bow down at the altar of America or worship the flag, though; I wouldn’t even consider myself “patriotic” (actually a point on which I sometimes feel guilty).

        At least that’s how I feel about it. 🙂

    • Israel was in a very unique position with God that will never be repeated by any other physical nation. They were God’s covenant people; his covenant nation. Those instructions were Old Testament, when Israel, as a nation, were God’s chosen people. Now we, Christians, are God’s covenant people; his covenant nation, though not a physical nation, but a spiritual nation. We are true Israel (See: Gal. 3-4). Jerusalem is no longer the holy city. We, the church, are the holy city. Jerusalem, along with the Arab nations, are of Hagar, the slave woman, because they are still in slavery to sin. So, if we are to pray for Israel today, in the context of scripture, we should be praying for the church, God’s covenant people today. Yet, we should pray for all people to come to faith in Jesus Christ, regardless of what nation they live in. And, we should pray for the church in America, too, because so much of it has gone the way of the world and is living in idolatry and spiritual adultery, so we need to pray for revival in the church in America.

    • Hi vlmrhm. Thank you for your comment. As Sue explained in her comment, it’s my conclusion this was a specific situation at a specific time that has passed now. There’s no instruction to my knowledge in scripture of Christians praying for the success of America or any country today.

      Peace in Christ. 🙂

  4. An interesting read – thank you! And I’ve loved reading the comments! Yes, we need to pray for leaders – these are troubling times and it’s going to get worse before it gets better! Thanks again for sharing the scriptures 🙂

    • Hi princessarchitect. Thank you for your comment. Indeed, we must continue to pray for all of our leaders, whether we strongly support or oppose their leadership. Glad you enjoyed the post.

      Peace in Christ. 🙂

  5. We are called to pray for leaders. Yeah that much is true. And we should. However, I’m more interested in praying for the individuals and the families that make up the nation. Politicians do not change America. It’s the families and individuals that every day go to work and fight to protect their loved ones and pay their bills. This is the America that I want to intercede to God that He would have mercy on. Good article. As always you write well and good content.

    • Hi Joseph. Thanks for your comment. I agree that it is the people that change things more than the leaders. All of us praying for each other, supporting each other, and doing our best daily in whatever we do in life for the glory of God.

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

  6. As a child who was raised by a Christian mother I didn’t need much theological training to notice that praying for America did not “feel” biblical. My personal theology is that God is creator of the Universe and we should pray for all people! We are the hands and feet of God and we win more souls through modeling Love!!

  7. Thank you so very much for this Biblically sound and very refreshing article – an oasis of “the words of truth” in this country of ‘Amerika’ which is increasingly becoming “a dry and thirsty land” (Amos 8:11-14 ~ AV)
    .
    I am 70+ year old multi-tour VN vet – and I personally find the ‘Red-White-and Blue ‘Amerikan’ hyper-patriotic ‘gospel of ‘Lukewarm CoeXist Ecumenical Laodiceanism’ to be revolting
    – And it is my experience that most of the ‘pastors’ who believe and ‘preach’ this ‘antibiblical’ stuff have never served in the US Military – AND they only have “a form of godliness”
    – The ‘hyper-Patriotic-gospel’ preached several times throughout the years was one of the contributing factors of why I left the Independent Fundamental Baptist Church that I had been a member of for +/- 10 years
    .
    Personally – I have not ‘Prayed for Amerika’ for several years – because of “the words of truth” written in Jeremiah 14:10-12 – and because there is nothing written that I have ever found in the “the word of the Lord” about praying for any country other than “Israel”.
    – For I am a dogmatic ‘Biblical CHRISTian’ first and foremost – – – – – – – and in a very-very-very distant second place an ‘Amerikan’
    My dogmatic choice is to do that which is written in Joshua, Chapter 24 [AV] :
    [14] Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: . . .
    [15] … but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

    • Hi Bro. Nick Nicholas. Thanks for your comment, and also thanks for your military service. Yes, it’s very unfortunate that some churches and preachers see a need to tie God with American patriotism, as if both are to be mutually worshiped. I hope more people will change from that, and I hope you’ve been able to attend a church that keeps the focus on God and His Word. Excellent verses at the end for all of us to remember.

      Peace in Christ.

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