Overseeing the ministry of prayer at my church has opened my eyes to the reality of ambitious prayer. For many years I didn’t realize that I had a spiritual gift of faith. All Christians have faith; that is how we become Christians. It took many decades of praying before I realized that God had gifted me with faith from the time that I was a young woman. When my youth minister asked me to pray for him and his wife to have a baby, I wrote his request on a list. It never occurred to me to take that request off my list until seven years later when I received the news that his wife was pregnant. No one taught me to be consistent in prayer. No one taught me that God wants us to keep asking;and when we don’t seem to be getting an answer, He is calling us to increase our faith. No one taught me, except the Holy Spirit. He taught me this lesson again through the prayer theme of this year’s National Day of Prayer.
I think we can all agree that our country needs prayer. We can be unified in that thought. The Bible is clear that it is our duty as Christians to pray for our government so that we can go about our calling to build God’s Kingdom here on earth. I led the National Day of Prayer in my church and though I planned for a puny 100 people to attend, we only had 35 prayer warriors at our event. Why weren’t more people gathered on this one-day-a-year privilege of praying for our country? No one likes to get up super early on a Thursday morning. I know I didn’t want to set my alarm for 4:30 a.m. after just getting back from a mission trip, recovering from an illness and working late on Wednesday night. I hope I would have attended even if I weren’t in charge of the event. I have attended in the past when it wasn’t part of my work responsibilities. Why?—because I believe God has called us to build His Kingdom in our world through our prayers for the community in which we live.
Decades ago our governmental leaders decided that there ought to be a day when the whole nation gathers to pray for our government. It seems that each year the privilege to gather for prayer and the need to gather for prayer over the United States is increasing. The theme for the 2018 gathering was unity. Unity in the United States seems an impossible request. I asked God to bless our nation with unity along with those gathered in our church and the other prayer gatherings that day because it was printed on the brochure. I never would have thought to ask that request for our country of my own volition. I had to ask God to forgive my doubt that He would answer this request because it seems so impossible in our current climate. We are incapable of unity, and the division that seems to be tearing apart our country seems to be increasing in intensity. How will God answer our request for unity? Will we see a people united around a common goal of having a government that keeps order so that we Christians are free to carry out our calling to share the love of God with all the world? Paul urged Timothy to pray like this in 1 Timothy 2:2-3:
“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.”
If Paul could tell Timothy to pray that way in their day when the Roman government maintained a tight hold around all nations of the world and persecuted Christians as sport — then we should not shy away from boldly asking God for unity in our nation. It is an ambitious prayer. It is a needed prayer. I challenge you to join with the movement that was started and begin to pray in unity for unity in our nation. When you see news of rallies and protests in our nation, pray and ask God to grant us unity so that we can be free to do His work. Let’s be ambitious in our prayers for our nation. Let’s watch and see how God answers in our day!