Prayer that Changes Nations
by Brenda Kuseski
Too often, we become discouraged at the direction our nation seems to be pursuing. In spite of growing ungodliness, we should never give up hope that God will have mercy and revive and restore us for His glory. Mike Bickle recounts the lesson of King Josiah in 2 Chronicles:
Josiah lived in the same generation in which Babylon destroyed Jerusalem. Both his father and grandfather were wicked kings of Judah, yet Josiah "did what was right in the eyes of the Lord" (2 Chron. 34:2). Despite Josiah's own godliness, the people he ruled still worshiped idols and refused to turn to the Lord. As a result of Israel’s sin, the prophets told Josiah judgment was coming and Jerusalem would be razed to the ground.
Josiah's response—to destroy the idols and restore the Word of God-- so moved the Lord that He said this to the king: "Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and those who dwell here, … I have heard you, declares the Lord. … You will be brought to your grave in peace, and your eyes will not see all the disaster that I am bringing on this place and on those who dwell here" (2 Chron. 34:27–28).
Because of Josiah's obedience and his lifestyle of crying out to God on behalf of his nation, the Lord actually delayed His judgments against Judah. This one man caught God's attention to such an extent that He altered history on his behalf.
Following God's assurance that Josiah would not see Jerusalem destroyed, the king successfully brought the people of Judah and Israel back to true obedience—"to walk after the Lord, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all [their] soul" (2 Chron. 34:31).
Where Does That Leave Us?
This is the extravagant compassion of our God—a kindness that goes far beyond what is deserved. Today, we live in an era of extravagant mercy and grace. Given our nation's growing defiance of the Lord and His ways, God's justice and righteousness could demand judgment….And yet God continues to show mercy. As King David wrote, the Lord is "full of compassion and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in mercy and truth" (Ps. 86:15b). The Lord remains compassionate by giving those who rage against Him more time. To use a cliché, we as a nation are living on borrowed time, just as the Israelites were. Why are we living under such extreme mercy?
Because God does not delight in releasing a severe judgment upon America or any other nation. He wants restoration of our nation and desires for all to be saved. Likewise, He is waiting for the nations to turn to Him in repentance. Even the wickedest nation has an opportunity: "At one moment I may speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it. If that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to do to it" (Jer. 18:7–8, emphasis added).
Not only is God waiting for nations to turn to Him, but also He is actually seeking intercessors who will pray these nations into His kingdom. This is how much God wants people saved; He is actively looking for those who will "stand in the gap" and contend in prayer on behalf of even the wicked who hate Him and rage against Him (Ezek. 22:30b). What an amazing God! Mike Bickle—Charisma Magazine (Adapted)