Our inside-out habits: We pray. We study the Bible. We make friends. We tell our stories. We give ourselves away in generosity and service.
A PERSONAL PRAYER
As I have grown older, you know that I have grown more patriotic. I find tears welling up as the anthem is sung at the beginning of ball games. I am more moved than ever at the sacrifice some men and women make in their service of our country. And so this week, as Independence Day approaches, I pray for our country, pouring out my heart of pride and gratitude, and great hope.
God, I am bold to pray for prosperity for our nation, not just for a few but for all. Give us the discipline to make decisions, both personally and collectively, that facilitate an abundance where every man, woman, and child has enough.
I pray for security and peace for all. Some of my brothers and sisters live in neighborhoods where gunshots are common and crime calls out to the children as a way of life. I am grateful for those who put their own lives at risk each and every day – those who serve in my neighborhood and around the world so that I might live my life in safety. I pray today for the safety and the success of these peacekeepers, and for the peacemakers who work for real compromise and reconciliation that peace with justice might prevail.
Gracious God, your scripture makes it clear that you have a special heart for the poor. I pray especially for the struggling and the powerless of our nation and the world, those who find prosperity an elusive goal, those who by circumstance or poor decision or lack of internal resources find themselves stuck in a cycle that can be a painful legacy from generation to generation. Show them a way out. Remind me that as long as some remain hungry or thirsty or sick or lonely, I still have work to do.
God, I believe you are a God of all people, and that we are all your children, that you have no preference for one nation or another. Indeed, even as I pray this morning, there are others around the world praying for the countries they love. I join with them in asking that their prayers for peace and prosperity in their nations be granted as well. But today, I am just so grateful that I am a part of this country, and I thank you for those who have given of themselves in countless ways that I might harvest the fruit of trees I did not plant, and reap the benefit of their sacrifice. I am not sure exactly the way forward to finally fulfill the patriot’s dream of alabaster cities gleaming, undimmed by human tears. But I want to be a part of that work. So I pray that you might show me how to invest myself in your mission in the place right around me.
Most of all, God, I pray for all of our leaders, that they might make decisions based on principles of righteousness rather than selfishness, making decisions to strive for true liberty and justice for all. Show us how to be a light to all the nations, not based only on the greatness of our strength and power, but based on the goodness of our national character.
In the name of Christ, I pray. Amen.
SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
This Sunday, July 1, we conclude our sermon series called “How to Pray the Psalms.” We will deal this week with what are called Royal psalms, also sometimes called enthronement psalms. These are psalms asking God’s blessing on the king of Israel. We don’t have kings anymore, but kings were understood to be the personal embodiment of a nation. How can we pray for our country? As we head into the week of Independence Day, join us as we consider what we might learn from the psalms about how to pray for a nation (regardless of the nation we live in).
Sunday, July 1 – Psalm 72:18-19
Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds. Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen.
Monday, July 2 – Psalm 117
Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples.
For great is his love towards us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!
Tuesday, July 3
May your Kingdom be fulfilled throughout the world, O Lord, for we trust that thy forgiving love is ours as a gift each day. We give thanks and praise always for your many blessings. Amen.
Wednesday, July 4 – Independence Day
Heavenly Father, today we celebrate the freedom of our nation, and we thank you, Lord, for the blessings you have bestowed on our great country. While we celebrate, help us to remember the cost of this freedom, and those who willingly gave their lives so that we could be free. Help us also to remember that our country was founded on you and that true freedom is found in your son, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross so that we can be set free from sin. Amen.
Thursday, July 5
Everyone in the world sings songs to God. Father, you love us better than any other love we can know. We can trust in you no matter what. Hail to you, our King. Amen.
Friday, July 6
All the people of the world, come before God with praise. Lift God up, He loves us forever and ever. No matter what He will love us. Give thanks and praise always. Amen.
Saturday, July 7
Heavenly Father, thank you that I am fearfully and wonderfully made as an original masterpiece handcrafted by you, the King of Kings. Help me to remember that I am your child and that I am loved unconditionally. Keep me focused on you and your great plans for my life so that I may use my spiritual gifts for your Kingdom’s purposes. Amen.