I’m watching baseball with my brother-in-law. Well, he’s watching. I’m writing this blog post and giving the TV occasional courtesy glances. I’m not a sports fan, but I am a music fan, so my ears perked up when a country crooner sang “God Bless America.”
Have you ever noticed that Irving Berlin’s classic patriotic tune is a prayer? Take a listen to Kate Smith introducing the song to the world. If you’re not feeling too patriotic this Independence Day, Kate’ll get you revved up!
God bless America, land that I love
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with the light from aboveFrom the mountains to the prairies
To the oceans white with foam
God bless America, my home sweet home.
Thank you, Lord, for the privilege of being an American. Forgive me for taking such a gift for granted.
On this day when we rejoice over American independence, I pray for a different kind of freedom to settle on this land.
Focus our eyes on what pleases You.
“Great and mighty God, whose name is the Lord Almighty, great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds.Your eyes are open to the ways of all mankind; you reward each person according to their conduct and as their deeds deserve” (Jeremiah 32:18-19). Open this nation’s eyes to see what provokes Your approval. Your Word is clear, Lord. You expect us “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with [our] God” (Micah 6:8).
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance” (Psalm 33:12). Though “all the nations may walk in the name of their gods, [may] we walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever” (Micah 4:5). [You say], “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10).
Reverse our self-inflicted wounds.
We “have fallen into the pit [we] have dug; [our] feet are caught in the net [we] have hidden” (Psalm 9:15). We have “exchanged [our] glorious God for worthless idols” (Jeremiah 2:11). We “have forsaken [You], the spring of living water, and have dug [our] own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water” (Jeremiah 2:13).
You don’t play, Lord. Your patience will not last forever. “The nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined” (Isaiah 60:12).
Thank You for making a way. “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and [You have] laid on [Christ] the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). If we return to You with all our hearts, remove the idols from among us and direct our hearts to You and serve You alone, You promise to deliver us (I Samuel 7:3). And oh, how we need deliverance!
Encourage the godly to stay the course.
Keep us doing right, Lord. Remind us that You see. Your “eyes range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to [You]”(2 Chronicles 16:9). Those “whom [Your] hand [has]established, [Your] arm also will strengthen. The enemy will not deceive [them], nor afflict [them]”(Psalm 89:21-22). “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people” (Proverbs 14:34). When we’re tempted to stray, speak into our hearts, “Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. They will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God their Savior” (Psalm 24:3-5).
Empower Your people to stand up for what’s right.
Keep us mindful that “those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that [You accept] as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:26-27). Straight from Your mouth, You command us to love You with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. “There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31).
Designate godly men and women to lead us.
“May all [our presidents] bow down to [You] and all [our leaders] serve [You]” (Psalm 72:11). “Instruct [them] in the way of wisdom and lead [them] along straight paths” (Proverbs 4:11). May President Obama’s prayer be that of Solomon, “Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (2 Chronicles 1:10). Before making decisions, may our leaders “first seek the counsel of the LORD, for many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails” (I Kings 22:5; Proverbs 19:21).
Open our eyes to what we could be.
“We have a strong city; God makes salvation its walls and ramparts. Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps faith. You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal. He humbles those who dwell on high, he lays the lofty city low; he levels it to the ground and casts it down to the dust. Feet trample it down—the feet of the oppressed, the footsteps of the poor. The path of the righteous is level; you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth. Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts” (Isaiah 26:1-8). “In [Your] name [this nation] will put [her] hope” (Matthew 12:21).
Move us to be world changers.
Oh, Lord, may we “observe [Your ways] carefully, for this will show [our] wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way [You are]near us whenever we pray to [You]?” (Deuteronomy 4:5-7). “May [Your] name endure forever; may it continue as long as the sun. Then all nations will be blessed through [You], and they will call [You] blessed” (Psalm 72:17).
God, may this great but flawed nation show its independence from the ways of this world by its dependence on You.
In the name of Jesus I pray, AMEN
Let’s make a pact, friends! When we’re tempted to make critical remarks about our country’s condition or distressing political options, let’s pause and pray first.