This has been a dark week in American history: an insurrection violently infiltrated our capital while the pandemic has spread at record levels; thousands of families are now struggling to put food on the table and around 40% of the adults in our country report symptoms of anxiety and depression (four times the amount of last year). We are a nation in need of prayer.
Regardless of your political affiliation, it is hard not to feel heartbroken by the current state of our nation, everyone will agree we are a nation in the need of prayer.
The question for us as believers is what are we doing with this brokenness?
If you are anything like me, it is all too easy to get sucked into the assumption that listening to and cheering on political commentary is one of the best ways to push our country forward. Although this leaves us riled up, it does little to move our country to God. It provides little help to those around us who are hurting and dying without Christ.
In the midst of all the political finger pointing, I was once again convicted by Oswald Chambers’ words, “God never gives us discernment in order that we may criticize, but that we may intercede.”
This made me wonder what it might look like to let the events of this year and the condition of our nation lead us to pray like never before. Rather than inflaming our rhetoric, what if we let it inflame our prayers? What might God do if we as the church stepped more fully into our identity as a kingdom of priests and interceded on our nation’s behalf for the healing and restoration only God can provide?
Prayer is the church’s greatest privilege and responsibility. Through it, we can change the course of history. We have the ear of the Almighty.
Let us hear anew the call and promise in Hebrews 4:16, “Let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”
Let me ask you: do you believe that through your prayers God wants to alter the state of our country? Do you persistently come to Him with this boldness and faith?
Consider Jesus’s words to His disciples,
“Always pray and never give up…. ‘Don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?’” (Luke 18:1, 7-8).
What might it look like for you to be one of those who by faith cry out to God on behalf of our nation? To be one who is quicker to intercede than criticize?
What might one step be for you can take over the next few days to move in this direction?
Maybe it is concluding your time of watching the news by bringing the concerns of our nation before God in prayer. Maybe it is blocking out a night this week to engage in extended prayer. Or maybe it is intentionally designating a few everyday tasks, like your commute or doing the dishes, as a time when you call upon God to graciously intervene in our nation.
As I have been considering this myself, I have been challenged by some of the writings of E. M. Bounds. Bounds served as a military chaplain during the Civil War, ministering against the backdrop of anger, division, and death. Bounds himself suffered a head injury from battle and was later taken as a prisoner of war. He was not unfamiliar with dark and tumultuous times in our nation’s history.
His life after the war centered on prayer and he saw God answer his cries in incredible ways. He remains well remembered for his powerful books on prayer. Let me share of few of his statements which continue to ring true for us today.
“The church today needs praying men to execute her solemn and pressing responsibility to meet the fearful crisis which is facing her. The crying need of the times is for men, in increased numbers – God-fearing men, praying men, Holy-Spirit men, men who can endure hardness, who will count not their lives dear unto themselves, but count all things but dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, the Savior.
“The men who are so greatly needed in this age of the church are those who have learned the business of praying – learned it on their knees, learned it in the need and agony of their own hearts.
“Praying men are the one commanding need of this day, as of all other days, in which God is to have or make a showing…. In doing God’s work there is no substitute for praying.” 
“Many persons believe in the efficacy of prayer, but not many pray. Prayer is the easiest and hardest of all things; the simplest and the sublimest; the weakest and the most powerful; its results lie outside the range of human possibilities – they are limited only by the omnipotence of God.
“Few Christians have anything but a vague idea of the power of prayer, fewer still have any experience of that power. The church seems almost wholly unaware of the power God puts into her hand; this spiritual carte blanche on the infinite resources of God’s wisdom and power is rarely, if ever, used – never used to the full measure of honoring God. It is astounding how poor the use, how little the benefits. Prayer is our most formidable weapon, but the one in which we are the least skilled, the most averse to its use. We do everything else for the heathen save the thing God wants us to do; the only thing which does any good – makes all else we do effective.”
“Men and women are needed whose prayers will give to the world the utmost power of God; who will make his promises to blossom with rich and full results. God is waiting to hear us and challenges us to bring him to do this thing by our praying. He is asking us, today, as he did his ancient Israel, to ‘prove him now herewith.’”
Will you allow God to make you into one of these men or women who will shape the course of our nation through prayer?
 All citations of Scripture in this article are taken from the NLT.
 E. M. Bounds, The Complete Works of E. M. Bounds on Prayer (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, compiled 1990), 383-384.
 Ibid., 317.
 Ibid., 398.