Corruption, murder, poor education, bad economy, human trafficking, armed robberies, and so on. These are just a few things I would hear about when growing up.
I was born in a country where we have to deal with many problems every day. There is a lot of poverty and crime. I remember when I was 10 years old, I got a long talk about what to do and say if I was kidnapped. It was very hard to think about such things at that age. Of course, people around me in school and at home became afraid, cursed and complained against the government because of these problems. It almost looked like everyone was trying to say that all the problems were caused by the government. And I actually agreed with them.
I became bitter and full of hate toward the government. I felt a lot of pain in my heart when I heard about people being robbed and sexually abused every day. This pain made me live in fear, hate, and complaints toward other people. I didn’t like this way of thinking, but I didn’t know what to do to change the situation. I even got robbed myself a couple of times, so that didn’t help at all.
The easiest solution for me was to blame the government, or anyone else. And that gave me a kind of “peace”. I mostly thought: “At least I am not the problem.”
What if I am actually the problem?
I mean, how is it my fault that people lose their jobs and get robbed? It doesn’t make any sense, right? And then I remembered what a very wise man once said: “If it’s going badly in your country, just look at yourself.” And that’s true! What if it actually is my fault? Let’s say I am only .01% of the problem. Ok sure, I can accept that. So now what?
“First, I tell you to pray for all people, asking God for what they need and being thankful to him. Pray for rulers and for all who have authority so that we can have quiet and peaceful lives full of worship and respect for God. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior.” 1 Timothy 2:1-3 (NCV).
I started to realise I was actually a bigger part of the problem. Paul encourages us strongly to pray for those in authority, yet I wasn’t praying for my country. I started to look more deeply at myself and God started to speak to me: “Who do you think will pray for the country? Should the ungodly pray? Am I expecting them to pray?” Whose responsibility is prayer for my country then? Suddenly the problem was not just .01% my fault; it became 100% mine.
“Do you know where your fights and arguments come from? They come from the selfish desires that war within you. You want things, but you do not have them. So you are ready to kill and are jealous of other people, but you still cannot get what you want. So you argue and fight. You do not get what you want, because you do not ask God. Or when you ask, you do not receive because the reason you ask is wrong. You want things so you can use them for your own pleasures.” James 4:1-3 (NCV).
When we are full of judging, accusing and angry thoughts towards others, are we not just as bad as them? We can ask God to stop all murders and unfaithfulness, but Jesus said that whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and whoever looks at a woman to desire her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:21-26.) We have to start by looking at ourselves and getting rid of the evil we find there first. When we get rid of our own bitterness, hate, judging, impure thoughts, etc., then we are solving the root of the problem which is our own sin and selfishness.
Then we can pray in a way that is pleasing to God: “Lord, give wisdom to all the authorities to lead the country in righteousness; soften people’s hearts so that they may get a better understanding of good and evil, and take care of all the innocent kids and people.” We don’t have to say exactly those words, but when we remain in love, God gives us the words for what we should pray for.
God needs people who are willing to fight in prayer for their countries. “I looked for someone who could build a wall, who could stand in the places where the walls have crumbled and defend the land when my anger is about to destroy it, but I could find no one.” Ezekiel 22:30 (GNT). We can become such people on behalf of our own countries! First by starting with ourselves and “fighting” in prayer for our country, asking that God have His hand over everything, and that He will work for the good of our countries.
Our hands must stay up!
Why don’t we pray? Because of unbelief. In other words, we believe only in what we see and hear. If we believe that “corruption, crime and poverty are taking over, and will never stop,” then of course things will never change. But have we asked Jesus and the Father if we can “fight” together with Them? If we do so, then we come to a completely different way of thinking and faith is poured into our hearts. In that way we receive God’s wisdom and we start fighting in prayer together!
It doesn’t matter which country I live in. It doesn’t matter if things get ten times worse. Maybe at first things do get worse, but if I give up, and lose my faith, who will fight for the country? We are to keep our hands up even if things look “terrible.” Faith is not about what we see, but about being fully sure of what we do not see yet. (Hebrews 11:1.)
In Exodus 17:7-15 we read the story of Moses and the Israelites’ fight against the Amalekites. As long as Moses kept his hands up, Israel won in the battle. When his hands became heavy, Aaron and Hur supported them, one on each side. And they remained that way until they won the battle against the Amalekites.
What an amazing story! God didn’t say to Moses, “Stand there, do nothing, and I will destroy the enemies in front of your eyes.” No! Moses was fighting together with God and his brothers to not give up but fight until the end. If they had lost their faith, they would have lost the fight and the enemies would have won. It is the same with us. If we lose faith for our country, then we go under together with it. If we stand and fight with uplifted hands then we have a future, because God has said it! We believe in the living God! He who has all the power on heaven and on earth!
Let’s keep our hands up and “fight” for the Lord in our countries! We have to depend completely on God and only prayer will save us from all chaos and lawlessness. If we as Christians see our responsibility to ”fight” together in prayer, we can make a difference!