Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
A Community of Prayer Champions, Praying Churches, Prayed-for Communities
#SayALittlePrayer..."God bless America."
by Phil Miglioratti
NOTE: Scroll for:
1 commentary, 2 Tweets, 3 Steps, 4 Critical Questions, 5 Action Plans, 6 Prayer Starters
I grew up hearing Kate Smith sing "God Bless America"
God bless America, land that I love
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with the light from above
From the mountains to the prairies
To the oceans white with foam
God bless America, my home sweet home
...and decades later was thrilled when a stadium filled with fans sang this prayer-to-God song during the 7th inning stretch.
Like our nation;'s motto, "In God We Trust," I assumed this expressed the true heart of our nation; a declaration of authentic trust in the living God and a sincere act of thanksgiving for the abundant blessings we have received.
But lately, I have second thoughts when I hear or sing the song.
When we speak or sing those three words, we are truly asking God to bless our nation. A petition to send good things our way (healthy bodies and a healthy economy). A plea to stop bad things (like pandemics, violence, raging fires). A biblical and very much needed prayer...but I have a concern.
Concern this song is too easily sung with more sentimentality than spirituality. A God-bless-my-America worldview . A pining for a good-old-days status quo. A generic prayer that is as patriotic as it is genuine intercession ... which easily produces an Americanized religion that dilutes vibrant faith in the God we trust.
The blessings individuals seek from a "God bless America" prayer are usually motivated by a personal need or an existential threat; the fear of destruction or damage or a dramatic decrease to our way of life. The good things we seek are those that will bless me-myself-and-I. Typically, "God bless America'' is an ask for help that will directly benefit me.
While I heartily "Amen!" presenting our personal petitions to the Lord (like you, I do this every day), I am also convinced the Church is responsible to pray corporately for the corporate needs of our nation and our communities. We must pray beyond personal interests into God's blessings that influence our nation and impact the wide diversity of communities. Those blessings that pour forth from conviction and confession; lived-out repentance and Spirit-led renewal)
We need a fresh wind of the Spirit that moves prayer champions to take a fresh look at our "God bless America'' prayers, so that more Christians and more congregations present requests for the blessings that correspond more to the broken heart of God. than to our help-me list of daily needs. Yes, we must pray for personal needs. But also for neighborhoods. And our nation.
The Church is called to pray for a practical and piercing application of biblical truths to our sociological problems, but I fear (and hear) prayer that sounds more politicized than prophetic.
May "God, bless America" become a prayer of response to Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor.”
How might God bless America if we present petitions on behalf of people who are beyond our family and friends? First responders. Fire fighters. Police officers. Local leaders. School teachers. Trend setters. Can we disciple the Church to pray not from but into political issues? For other ethnicities? For the unborn and the uncared for? For those in need as well as those who lead?
God will bless America. When God's people pray. In humility ("God resists you when you are proud but continually pours out grace when you are humble." James 4:6) . When we turn back to God. When we stop sinning. God will bless America by forgiving us and making our land fertile again (2 Chronicles 7:14)
...as we pursue a new "God, bless America" prayer ...
4 Critical Questions
...to set a new direction in our praying
5 Action Plans
...to fresh start our church/ministry/church
>"When our church/group asks God to bless America, what would you want us to be sure to ask for?"
>Pastors - Principals - Business Owners - First Responders - Government Officials – Neighbors
Daily prayer prompts
Weekly prayer calls
Monthly prayer themes/gatherings
Quarterly prayer training
6 Prayer Starters
How about we start with #0.
We need to stop COMMANDING God to Bless America.
A simple, "Please God, Bless America..." and then continue the praying or singing of this, this... plea as Phil has shared.
Maybe our first confession should be the sin of COMMANDING God to do anything, much less, fulfill our DEMAND that He BLESS AMERICA!
Please Lord, make it clear to us what You want us to pray moment by moment and prayer by prayer, so that we pray according to Your will. In Jesus Christ's Name, amen.
From Featured Contributor Ken Oliver - -
We have in the past looked to America as the New Israel, a vision we got from our Puritan ancestors. The God Bless America prayer has been said in that light; namely God has blessed America, and therefore we call upon God to help us return to God in the same way ancient Israel was admonished to return to God by the prophets.
I want to suggest, if that prayer was ever valid – a point of discussion for historians – it is no longer valid. We are a nation influenced by our Christian heritage as well as the Enlightenment. However, we are not a “Christian nation” in the same way that ancient Israel was God’s people. When we pray “If my people who are called by my name . . .” we must remember that God’s name is not America and therefore the prayer does not apply to the nation as a whole, but to the Christians within the nation. I am thankful that my Baptist heritage always understood that citizenship and membership in God’s family were two different things.
Today, I believe that the God Bless America prayer should be based on Jeremiah 29:7. We are to fully participate in the nation, seeking its well-being and finding our home here, yet knowing that this is not our ultimate home. We are to pray for the city in which we find ourselves exiles – for all Christians while we are here on this earth are exiles from the heavenly kingdom.
A response to me on my Facebook page - -
I know your heart, and I know that you are not trying to push a political agenda, but just trying to get fellow evangelicals to examine their own presuppositions that marry conservative, pro-Trump politics with our faith.
Regardless of your preference for Republicans or Democrats, evangelicals need to wake up to the realization that this marriage is interfering with our primary mission, that is spreading the Good News about Jesus.
Become Prophetic, Not Political
Glory to you, our Almighty God who created the human race “in your likeness.” Praise to you Lord Jesus, our Blessed Hope, who broke the curse of evil and sin and will one day rule all in perfect righteousness.
Fill us, Holy Spirit, as we pray against the sin of racial superiority that continues to produce division, distrust, and distress in every sector of our culture and across our country. Convict us so that our words (and also our works) begin to more perfectly reflect the mind of Christ and the will of our Father in heaven. That we would not merely teach and preach “Love God; love your neighbor,” but live it.
We ask you for forgiveness:
We respond with contrition for our personal sin, whether by overt action or heartless apathy, but also with lament over our nation’s disgrace. We ask for an empowering of the Holy Spirit throughout the Body of Christ, so that your Church will no longer be conformed to and infected by the status quo thinking of the world. We desire to be truly and radically transformed—each of us, all of us, our congregations and communities, our country—by the renewing of our minds.
Change the way we think about “We the people,” “Liberty and justice for all,” and “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
We declare these are truly inalienable rights endowed by you for every person and people group. Reform us so that our praying,our living-working-playing, our Gospel message, and yes, even our political perspectives, demonstrate, oh God, that your will is good for all of us and perfectly suited to every human being.
With yielded hearts we ask that you lead us on a journey to:
We ask in faith, with hope, knowing your love is covering a multitude of our sin. We give thanks for your grace and forgiveness. Now and always praying in the authority and name of Jesus our reconciler and unifier. Amen.
(Gen. 1:27; Matt. 22:36-40; Rom. 12:2)
Phil Miglioratti is the curator of the #ReimagneFORUM@Pray.Network and the founder of the National Pastors’ Prayer Network
Originally published in: “Make Us One”