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Devotional: May 7, 2021

The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.

Since prayer is at the bottom of all this, what I want mostly is for men to pray—not shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God.

2 Timothy 2: 1-3, 8 The Message

This week, we celebrated the National Day of Prayer (yesterday, Thursday, May 6th). It is a time when many of us here in our United States take time to pray for our country, its leaders, its military, its educators, its medical providers, and everyone who lives in this great nation. Always held on the first Thursday in the month of May, the National Day of Prayer is a time for us to pray for our nation. 2021 marks the the 70th year for our nation to come together and pray. Presidents have encouraged Americans to pray. This year’s theme is “Lord, pour out your love, life, and liberty”. More information may be found at nationaldayofprayer.org.

This passage from Paul’s second letter to his friend and protégé Timothy speaks about the importance of prayer. Paul wrote about praying for people in positions of leadership, for the reason that their decisions affect many other people. Yet the Apostle also talks about praying “for everyone you know,” which is a good reminder that prayer is not something to be withheld from anyone. Prayer is a spiritual exercise which should include everyone, even our “enemies”. Often, I find prayer most meaningful when I pray for specific people. I would encourage you to do the same, although God hears every prayer, even very general ones.

Much has been written about prayer, and many of us know that Christ calls all of His followers to pray. I was struck by the visual imagery with which the Apostle Paul concludes his words on prayer to young Timothy. He writes,

“What I mostly want is not the shaking of angry fists at enemies,

but the raising of holy hands to God.”

It feels as if we watch angry fists being raised almost daily in the news. This does not promote healing. Rather, it has the opposite effect. I do believe that healing can occur within our nation. Although we may feel like we can do little to change things, we can do much. When we are on our knees, we know that our prayers will be heard by the Lord. When we pray for someone, it changes our relationship with them. We may not all agree, but we are all redeemable in the eyes of our Lord. He is the one that will sort through our chaos.

When our arms go up in the air, we can choose fists, or open hands. A fist closed tight looks angry, yet an open hand is not. Instead, an open hand reaches out. It is vulnerable, holding nothing back. I prefer to lift my open hands, reaching out to the Lord for all He has to offer. I pray that you, too, will want to lift your hands to the Lord.

May God bless you this week, as we have collectively celebrated the National Day of Prayer…

Prayer

2021 NATIONAL PRAYER FOR AMERICA

Lord, we look up and see the billions of stars

You created, and we praise You. We look

around and see the billions of people You

created in Your image; uniquely, fearfully,

wonderfully, and we thank You. Wrap us in Your

Spirit and unite us in Your family, Lord.

Thank You for loving us first. In Your love for the

whole world, You sent Your Son to save us.

Jesus, in You alone we have abundant and

everlasting life. Thank you for teaching and

leading us to love and live, fruitful, and faithful.

In Your life, death, resurrection, and ascension

You are our Lord, our love, our life, and our

liberty. You came to “bind up the brokenhearted,

To proclaim liberty to captives and

freedom to prisoners.” You have freed us from

the penalty and shame of our sin; free to live

life as You designed and Your destiny

for our Nation.

Spirit search us, convict us, as we repent for

our sin and the sins of America. Please cleanse,

fill, and send us. We rejoice, knowing that Your

forgiveness makes us acceptable and effective

vessels for Your love, life and liberty in our

family, church, education, workplace, military,

government, art, entertainment, and media.

We pray that America will be united in love to

serve You with all our hearts, all our ways, and

all of our days. Unite us to pray, love; to live and

walk by the Spirit. Conform and transform us

as we pray and proclaim, “Now the Lord is the

Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is,

there is liberty.”

We pray this is the name of Jesus, Amen.

Kathy Branzell President, National Day of Prayer Task Force


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