Why we pray for a Nation

1. Foundational verse: 2 Chronicles 7:14if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land

Certain Christian groups contest this verse saying that it concerns the people of Israel and as a consequence other nations are not included in the scope of the verse. In order to better understand the responsibility of national prayer, let’s look at what Isaiah 56:6-7 says: “And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant— these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

We are speaking of foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to minister to him with joy in his house of prayer, which will be a house of prayer for all the nations and not solely for the people of Israel. In the New Testament, Jesus refers to this prophesy by stating: “My house will be a called a house of prayer for all the nations” (Mark 11:17). In our time, very few congregations dedicate time to praying for the nation. Often we have everything except prayer: that is to say, we have choirs, preaching, offerings, etc… but we forget that prayer is the primary mission of the church.

Returning to 2 Chronicles 7:14, when the Lord looks at a nation it is the church in that nation that is considered his people. In addition, if these same people humble themselves, pray, seek the face of God, and turn from their wicked ways, then the promise says that He will answer their prayers and heal their nation.

2. The book of Daniel


A. King Darius


This teaching is essentially based on the prayers of Daniel. Chapter 9 speaks of the prayers of Daniel during the reign of king Darius who was a Mede. Daniel discovered in the prophetic writings that the time of deliverance from captivity for the people of Israel had come. Seventy years had been decreed for the destruction of Jerusalem. Daniel realized that the time was up and that he was in the exact moment of deliverance for the people of God.

I would like us to discover together Daniel’s response and reaction when faced with such a great discovery:

The first step of prayer

Before anything else, we must know the promises of God. Everything started when Daniel discovered in the prophetic writings that the time had arrived. In verse 3 (Daniel 9:3) it says that Daniel turned to the Lord and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.

Here is my question: “Why pray, fast and put on sack cloth if the Lord has already said that the moment of deliverance has arrived especially when we know that God accomplishes what he says?”

We need to learn the lesson from Daniel. He understood that God had spoken and that prayer was absolutely necessary in order for the promise to be realized. He understood the greatness of the promise and as such, he realized that it would require special prayer for which he sought God through fasting and putting on sackcloth.

The second step of prayer

After having understood the promise of God, Daniel moved into the next step of his prayer (Daniel 9:4). Instead of talking about his problem, he started by worshiping the Lord and confessing how great and awesome he is. He especially declared that the Lord always keeps his covenant and shows love to those who love him. The lesson to learn from this prayer is that we do not approach the throne of God with wailing and moaning, but rather with worship declaring his greatness. When we confess the greatness of God, we demonstrate our faith in his ability to act. Daniel entered prayer only by talking about God and not about his people.

Unfortunately, many Christians enter prayer only talking about themselves and their problems instead of talking about the greatness of God. Without realizing it, we find ourselves worshipping ourselves instead of worshipping God. By “worshipping” I mean “speaking of ourselves” by trying to justify ourselves before God by our own actions and good deeds that we have accomplished. However, we need to think like Paul when he said that he no longer lived but that Christ lived in him (Galatians 2:20). God sits in the midst of the praises of his people (Psalm 22:3) and every prayer should start with worship and praise no matter how heavy the burden.

As Daniel prayed, the angel Gabriel visited him (Daniel 9:20-21) and in verse 23 Daniel is told that as soon as he began to pray a word went out.

The third step of prayer

After having spent time in worship, Daniel finally spoke of his people but not to boast of their accomplishments, but rather in confessing their sins to God (Daniel 9:5-16). He cites a list of horrible things that his people have committed including rebellion, iniquity, refusing to listen to the prophets, etc… The interesting thing is the fact that Daniel does not say, “my people have done this and that” instead he says, “We have done this and that”. In reading about the life of Daniel, the Word shows us clearly that he was a man of integrity who feared the Lord. Yet, in praying for his people to be forgiven, he had to identify with them, like a priest. People who do not know the Lord need us (the church) to intercede on their behalf. On the day of judgment we won’t be judged by other people’s sins, but right now we are victims of the consequences of others sins (whether we like it or not). This is why we must confess and ask God for forgiveness from the sins committed in our nation. This is the responsibility of the church in the nation.

The fourth step of prayer

Having discovered the promise of God and spending sufficient time in crying out to God for the forgiveness of his people, Daniel reaches the final step in his prayer: he asks the Lord to restore Jerusalem (Daniel 9:17-19) that is to say the deliverance of his people. In many prayer times for nations, the Church has the habit of starting directly with the fourth step of prayer when its supposed to be the last step of prayer. In summary, for every prayer, we must first know and understand the promises of God, approach him with worship, humble ourselves, confess, and ask God for forgiveness for the people and ask for deliverance.

B. King Cyrus


The prayer recorded in Chapter 9 of Daniel is different from the one we find in chapter 10. In chapter 9, Daniel was under the reign of Darius the Mede and he prayed for the restoration of Jerusalem while in chapter 10 he was under the reign of Cyrus the king of Persia. In Daniel 10:1 he prays about to a great calamity (or a great war) revealed to him.

We need to understand that when God promises something to us there will always be opposition arising from the enemy who is the devil. The opposition intensifies the closer we get to the moment of deliverance. When the devil discovered that the moment for the birth of a liberator for the people of God had arrived, he used pharaoh to kill all the Hebrew children who were male. The same scenario occurred when the devil learned about the birth of the Messiah and Savior of this world (Jesus) had arrived. All this to say that we can never merely be content to contemplate the promises of God, but on the contrary we must engage in prayer in order to allow the realization of God’s purposes to be accomplished. We must especially confront resistance in the spiritual realm. It is never enough to wait; rather we must wait in prayer.

We must be aware that our battle is supposed to be spiritual and not physical. Likewise, the victory is first of all in spiritual realm before it is manifested in the physical realm.

The Bible says in Ephesians 6 : 12 that we do not fight against flesh and blood but against the rulers, the authorities, and the powers of this dark world, and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm. The problem is that far too often Christians fight other people (in the flesh) instead of fighting the spiritual battle. In writing to the Colossians, Paul says that Epaphras wrestled in prayer for them (Colossians 4 :12). The church needs to understand that she is supposed to wrestle in prayer until the promises of God come to pass.

Let us go back to the prayer of Daniel in chapter 10. Having received insight from a vision, Daniel spends 3 weeks in prayer and fasting for his people (Daniel 10 : 2-3). As usual, the angel Gabriel appears to him to give him a message from the Lord, but this time there is a slight variation. The angel Gabriel is unable to deliver the message as he had previously because of the magnitude of the opposition until the angel Michael intervenes.

I was touched deeply and impressed by the words of the angel Gabriel when he tells Daniel that as soon as he began to pray when it was in his heart to understand the promise of the Lord and to humble himself before the Lord, his words (prayers) were heard. In fact, it was because of these prayers that Gabriel came (Daniel 10:12). Often we think that God acts on our behalf after a long period of prayer, but we need to understand that God acts the as soon as we begin to pray.

The question is always the same: If God sent an answer as soon as he began to pray, then why did he have to wait another 21 days? The answer to this delay is found in verse 13 where the angel Gabriel says that the prince of Persia resisted him for 21 days until Michael one of the chief princes came to his aide. We could say it this way: Gabriel was practically incapable to deliver the Lord’s message without the aide of Michael. This would seem to indicate that Michael is spiritually stronger than Gabriel. Remember that in chapter 9, Gabriel had no problems delivering the message of the Lord, but in chapter 10 it was seemingly impossible without the assistance of Michael. The Bible does not say that Michael is the only prince but just one of the princes of God people, which would indicate that there are other angels as powerful that intervene for the welfare of the church. It is this kind of angel that intervenes against the rulers and authorities that we mentioned in Ephesians 6:12.

The intervention of the angel Michael would not have succeeded if Daniel had not persevered in prayer. Many Christians start well in their prayers but somewhere along the line, they become discouraged and abandon their prayers while in reality it is perseverance in prayer that sanctions angelic intervention. There are blessings that never reach us without angelic intervention. The angel Gabriel clearly stated that the prince of Persia resisted him 21 days. My question is this: did the resistance come in the form of King Cyrus since he was the official king of Persia?

I think that the answer is a resounding NO because Cyrus could not resist an angel simply because he was a man just like us. The prince of Persia mentioned by the angel Gabriel was a powerful spirit (demon) in the heavenly realm. This tells me that each nation has a hostile prince in the spiritual realm and in order for the will of God to be accomplished in that nation, this spirit must be conquered. In Daniel’s case, he fought this battle in prayer. His prayer brought Michael’s intervention without which Gabriel never would have arrived with the message.

Burundi just like the United States or any other nation for that matter has a spiritual prince that opposes the realization of the plan of God for his people and his church in that nation. For this reason, the church must rise up and fight in prayer against these spirits and not against people.

3. Prayer for the authorities


Before I speak on prayer for the authorities, we must first see what the Bible has to say about the authorities in a nation. Paul wrote to the Romans to inform them that they must respect the governmental authorities because there is no authority except that which God has established (Romans 13:1).

The paradox here is that during this period Romans were governed by Nero considered to be the worst persecutor of the church in that time period. If I were to try to place myself in these Roman Christians situation, I would find it nearly impossible to be able to pray for someone who not only mistreated people in general but also persecuted the church. Worse still, Paul says in verse 4 that the ruler in authority is God’s servant for our good.

Why would Paul speak of God’s servant when he knew full well of the atrocities committed by Nero? The answer is found in 1 Timothy 2:1-3. Writing to Timothy, Paul exhorts him to pray for all people and especially those in authority such as kings (presidents) so that we may lead peaceful and quiet lives in godliness and holiness. If we don’t’ pray for our presidents, governors, senators, etc… the devil will know how to best use them to accomplish his will in the earth since Jesus described him as the prince of this world (John 14:30). We must pray then that God would use them to accomplish his will here on this earth. We don’t pray for them because they are righteous but rather because they hold a very important place in the sight of God.

The Word of God says that it is God who changes the times and seasons, he depose kings (presidents) and raises up others (Daniel 2:21). This means that we need to accept those who govern over us, praying for them despite their evil actions for this is good and pleases God our Savior (I timothy 2: 3).

I was among those who spoke very negatively about the leaders of their country but I repented as soon as the Lord gave me this revelation. When we speak negatively of our leaders, we are actually cursing them since our speech either curses or blesses people (James 3:9). The problem is that when we curse them we are inadvertently cursing those who are under their authority.

One day Paul insulted the high priest without realizing his position. His friends were astonished and asked him how he could dare to do something like that to the high priest. His answer astonished me: Paul replied, “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.” (Acts 23: 5).

We need to pray for our leaders so that God can guide them in their decision making process for if we do not pray, they will be guided by other forces (demonic) and laws allowing homosexuality and abortion will be established in some places; In other nations, they will be influenced by corruption and criminal activity. Some laws pass in the name of democracy, which had become the devil’s favorite weapon for defying the Word of God.

4. The Christian’s weapons


I would like to conclude with this Bible passage that should shake the church of Jesus Christ. If you read this message in America, Europe, or in Asia, or in Africa… you need to understand that the Word of God compels us to pray seriously for our respective nation and leadership. The passage says this: “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10: 3-5).

May the Spirit of the Lord help us to understand this message.

To God only be the glory and the honor.

Chris Ndikumana

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