The call to pray for the nations

June 12th, 2013 · by Tom Stuart · Prayer

“Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession” (Psalm 2:8  NIV) 

It is hard to comprehend what a magnanimous heart God has when one considers the verse “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)  Think about it. The world, the entire world includes 196 nations and the 7 billion people who inhabit them.  That takes a whole lot of love.  Something only Jesus could accomplish through His death on the cross, burial and resurrection.  And it is His ultimate intention that “all the nations, whom [He] has made shall come and worship before [Him].” (Psalm 86:9)

Even a cursory reading of the Bible immediately conveys this loving concern God carries for the nations of the world.  We are explicitly told in Psalm 66 that “His eyes keep watch on the nations.” (vs. 7) In nearly every book of the Bible we find the evidence of this heart expressed through prophetic utterances and/or divine initiatives to both reveal Himself and draw nations through repentance and faith toward Himself.  From His Old Testament promise to Abraham to bless all the nations of the world through him, to the New Testament command of Jesus that the gospel of the kingdom be proclaimed throughout the entire world, we see His unshakeable purpose to make the nations His inheritance. (Genesis 22:18, Matthew 24:14)  Again, that is a whole lot of love!  How can He possibly do that? 

His choice is to do it through the instrumentation of prayer and intercession.  From the book of Genesis forward we find God looking for individuals to answer His call to become intercessors on behalf of His purposes for the nations.  Just consider the intercessory ministries of the likes of Noah, Moses, Daniel, Nehemiah, the prophets, Paul and the apostles.  “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance” He pleads.  (Psalm 2:8)  “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one,” He declares through Ezekiel. (22:30  NIV)  “He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then His own arm brought Him salvation, and His righteousness upheld Him.” (Isaiah 59:16  ESV)  And with that He calls forth His son Jesus who alone is able to save and who “ever lives to make intercession.”  (Hebrews 7:25)

Intercession, which is building up a wall of protection against the enemy and standing in the gap before God on behalf of human kind, is God’s chosen way of initiating His will in the earth.  (Ezekiel 22:30)  That is why Jesus urges us to pray “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  (Matthew 6:10) 

Intercession is God’s invitation to His people, His church, to be co-workers together with Him in the business of governing the world.  This truth is underscored by one of the last public messages Jesus gave the week before He died, when His stated plainly His call to intercession for the nations:  “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations!”  (Matthew 21:13)  That explains why we are told through the revelation of Paul that “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:6)  Just imagine, He has given us a place in the Spirit where, when yielded and unified with the enthroned Christ, we can actually rule and reign with Him from a place of prayer.  You can read more on this in the post “What it means to pray with Jesus.” 

Since intercessory prayer for the nations is so important and so strategic for the fulfillment of God’s purposes, why then is there so little of it being made in the Church?  Since it is so near and dear to God’s heart, why then are we not more committed to doing it?  Could it be that, like the money changers and merchants in the temple we have become more concerned with our own profit and well-being than with the spiritual well-being of the nations?

Intercession is God’s love expressed in prayer from our knees.  There is something about praying for the nations that taps us into God’s heart of love.  I know of no other way to explain it.  We find ourselves lifted out of the narrowness of self into the heights and depths of His love for His creation.  As we begin to fathom the mystery of God’s holiness and justice we find ourselves pleading with Him for His mercy and compassion based on His steadfast love and faithfulness. 

I believe there is a unique and inherent blessing for those individuals, families and corporate groups (ministries and churches) who make it priority to regularly intercede for the nations.  It is directly tied to the simple principle that if we give preference to the things that concern God, He will be sure to give preference to the things that concern us.  It is directly in line with the great promise “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.”  (Matthew 6:33)

In a future blog post I will share some basic principles for interceding for the nations.  Stay tuned.  In the meantime, what have you learned about the blessings of intercession?  What nations of the world in addition to your own nation, has God laid upon your heart to claim as your inheritance?

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