I have run into people who say there is no hope for America. They are convinced that final judgment is upon us, and that there is no point in praying anymore for our country. I have even encountered a few who say that God Himself told them not to pray for America anymore. They are mistaken, since God is stirring up a whole army of prayer warriors on behalf of this nation, even in this late hour.
It seems that some are actually gleefully anticipating seeing judgment fall. This mystifies me. Do I need to state the obvious? We are all still here, folks! Do you want to personally experience what you are prophesying?
We can see that wickedness is snowballing all around us — and it deserves to be judged. Should we pray, then, for judgment to come — and hope it only falls on other people? Proverbs 17:5 says, “He who is glad at calamities shall not go unpunished.” Proverbs 24:17, 18 warns, “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the LORD should see it, and it should displease him, so that He turns away His wrath from him.” Because God is righteous and just, He will eventually repay wickedness with its due reward. However, He does not permit us to gloat over the discomfiture of those we don’t like or agree with.
While the Church remains on earth, I believe we should continue to pray for delay, turning back, and minimizing of judgment. Whatever your end-time beliefs are, we can probably agree that when the time of the Tribulation comes, we won’t be able to pray away any of the judgments which the Bible has foretold for that era. But since we are not there yet, let’s pray.
Here are some Bible principles for how we can intercede:
1.) God often gives revelation of coming judgment because He wants us to intercede for it not to happen. Amos 7:1-9 describes three visions given to Amos. Upon seeing the first two, Amos immediately prayed that the Lord would not send these catastrophes. The result in both cases was that the Lord changed His mind. “It shall not be,” said the Lord. In the third vision, the Lord told Amos, “I will not pass by them anymore.” So Amos refrained from interceding, because he understood the firm intent of the Lord.
Most of the time, when God shows us a coming judgment, it is for the purpose of inspiring us to pray against it. His heart’s desire is to release His mercy. He gives us the opportunity to pray in unity with His true intention, and thereby stop judgment from taking place.
There are times when our prayers cannot deter judgment — but before refusing to pray, we had better be sure it is really the Lord we are hearing, and not just our opinion, based on the events going on around us. We should also check to see what the Body of Christ as a whole is hearing on the matter.
2.) We can intercede for judgment to be averted or minimized “for the sake of the righteous.” Abraham prayed for Sodom to be spared for the sake of the righteous who dwelt there (Genesis 18:16-33). “Abraham … said, ‘Will You destroy the righteous with the wicked? … Far be it from You to do such a thing, to treat the righteous in the same manner as the wicked! … Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?” (vs. 23 and 25).
Perhaps all of Sodom would have been spared, if Abraham had continued pressing the point with the Lord. However, we do see that God delivered righteous Lot and his family. The angels urged Lot to hurry to escape, saying that they could not do anything until he had reached safety (Genesis 19:22).
I often pray that God would delay or minimize judgment upon our country for the sake of the righteous remnant who still live here.
3.) Your individual prayers make a difference. Twice Moses stood alone between God and the total destruction of Israel, and his intercession prevailed to turn away God’s wrath (Exodus 32:9-14; Numbers 14:11-20). At still another time, Moses and Aaron together turned back destruction (Numbers 16:43-48). The Israelites were rebellious, not repentant, and yet God in His mercy listened to Moses’ prayer.
James 5:16 tells us, “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” And in Ezekiel 22:30 , God says, “I sought for a man among them, that would make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I should not destroy it: but I found none.”
Notice that all God needed was one person to pray fervently, to save a nation. Don’t worry that there are too few of us praying. Each of us has greater power with God than we can imagine, if we will only diligently pray and believe. Truth be told, there are many, many people already praying throughout our nation, and the prayer army is growing by the day. Be encouraged!
Next time, we’ll look at a couple more principles of prayer for when judgment is imminent.