The shocking scenes from the Capitol yesterday served as an implicit call to prayer. Rather than offer what would undoubtedly be imperfect words in a moment that requires precision, I will simply invite you to join in praying for the nation.
Pray for healing and reconciliation. We know that true reconciliation cannot be found apart from Christ, so pray for revival to sweep the nation. Looking to humanism and mere kindness has not stemmed the tide of polarization, division, and hatred. Pray that many find Christ, who alone is our peace, in these dark days. But pray also that yesterday’s horror would awaken every person living in the USA to the need for a new approach to our differences.
Pray for wisdom for our leaders. Scripture exhorts us to pray for “all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2:2). Those in leadership, especially at the national level, will need great wisdom to bring us into a period of quiet peace. I would encourage you to pray for each of those who will have to make exceedingly difficult decisions in the coming days, months, and years.
Pray for a spirit of self-examination. As Christians, we are not to spend our time judging the world’s sins, but examining ourselves with courageous honesty. The harsh reality is that many have contributed to the poor state of the nation, and the Church has not been the exception to this trend. Pray, then, with David, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24). You might consider examining yourself in these areas, along with others the Spirit might call to mind:
- Dishonesty. Our God is a God of truth, whereas Satan is the father of lies. While you might not have explicitly lied or sought to deceive, have you participated in the promulgation of untruth by spreading baseless conspiracy theories? Have you borne false witness against those of a different political stripe, joining in their slander?
- Ungodly Speech. Paul’s admonition is absolute: “Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is useful for building others up according to their need” (Ephesians 4:29). Have you used words (including typed words on social media) that have torn down rather than built up, even if speaking “generally” of a class of people rather than an individual? Have the things you’ve said or written recently been edifying, necessary, and gracious? James points out how serious this is: “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless” (1:26).
- Unrighteous Anger. James tells us we should be quick to listen, but slow to speak and especially slow to become angry “because human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires” (1:19-20). The level of vitriol towards those on the “other side”—whatever side we might be on—has reached grievous heights. Let us not forget that Jesus saw calling someone an idiot as tantamount to murder, because it springs from the same ungodly anger (Matthew 5:22).
- Arrogance. We’re so apt to speak harshly and blow up in anger because we assume we’re always right. Proverbs points out with bracing clarity whence strife, of the sort we see every day in this country, arises: “Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice” (13:10). Let us cast aside foolish strife and seek true wisdom.
- Divisiveness. Scripture treats this as among the most serious sins. Paul tells Titus, “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them” (3:10). Have your political opinions bred divisiveness in you? If you would divide the Body for which Christ died—”His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility (Ephesians 2:15-16)—for something as trivial as politics, know that your soul is in grave peril.
Now is the time for self-examination, confession, contrition, and repentance. Forgive us, Lord, and heal us. Instill in us a spirit of humble meekness and prayerful reconciliation. For the sake of your Name. Amen.