Does God listen to prayers about nations?

7 June 2024

Sean Redfearn looks at how the Bible shows us that God honours those nations and peoples who submit to him

What’s the point in praying for our nation?

We pray because we know that nations succeed when they submit to God, and they doom themselves when they don’t.

A nation doesn’t first-and-foremost need good social policies, nor a strong economy, nor a healthy justice system. To be sure, these things are all incredibly important – but what a nation needs first-and-foremost is a heart that submits to God – for from it all else flows (Proverbs 4:23).

The Greatest Commandment (Mark 12:29-30) is to love God with everything we have. And if you think about it, these incredibly important things like good policies, strong economies, and healthy justice systems are applications of the second Greatest Commandment; to love your neighbour.

But you can’t love your neighbour well if you don’t first love God well, because God is the foundation for all good that will ever flow. Any other foundation will always run up dry and broken.

This is why we must pray for our nation. We pray that our nation and our nation’s leaders would love God and submit to him, because that offers us the only hope for a flourishing society.

So, here are a few biblical examples that demonstrate the benefits of kingdoms accepting God’s way, and the consequences of kingdoms rejecting God’s way.

Obeying God in the Old Testament

In the book of Jonah, the great monarchical city of Nineveh was entrenched in wickedness and not following God’s good pattern – and because of this they were destined for God’s judgement. However, when the Ninevites responded to Jonah’s warning by turning from their wickedness and believing in God, Jonah 3:10 NIV says:

“When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.”

Disobeying God in the Old Testament

GotQuestions explains:

“Many nations of antiquity are non-existent now, having brought God’s judgment upon themselves for their sin. Edom (Jeremiah 49:17–22), Assyria (Zephaniah 2:13–15), Sodom (Genesis 18:20), and Babylon (Jeremiah 51) were all wiped out, according to the biblical prophets, for their evil before the Lord….”

A hefty number of nations and rulers in the Old Testament persecuted God’s people – and rejected God’s way for a flourishing society. But in the Bible, rejecting God’s way and persecuting his people never ends well for the foreign rulers who do so.

The Old Testament example of Israel

2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV says:

“if 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.”

Deuteronomy 30:16 NIV says:

“For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. “

In the Old Testament, when Israel and its leaders honoured the Lord and sought his help, he clearly moved powerfully and protected them.

However, the Bible also shows us the devastating consequences of Israel refusing to obey God, in particular with the nation’s two exiles (the Northern Kingdom exiled into Assyria in 2 Kings 17; the Southern Kingdom to Babylon in 2 Kings 25).

The Lord had warned Israel repeatedly of the devastation that would come from rejecting his good pattern, but when they refused to listen, they lost his hand of protection and were removed from the land. Sin brings negative consequences.

What about the New Testament?

God does not show favouritism (Romans 2:11). It is not just Israel that is called to believe in the one true God (Joel 2:32; Romans 10:13). Acts 10:34-35 NIV says:

“Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.’”

In the New Testament, Jesus clearly says that he has authority over all the earth and that he wants disciples from all nations. Matthew 28:18-20 NIV says:

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Jesus says that his way is the only way, and that people should be taught to obey his commands. Governments are made to rest on his shoulders (Isaiah 9:6).

Not only this, but the famous creed in Philippians 2 ends (in Philippians 2:9-11) by saying that every knee in heaven and earth and under the earth will one day confess that Jesus is Lord.

If Jesus is the good King, then that can and should be done right now, before the day of judgement.

Indeed, Britons have seen and can testify to the truth of flourishing under God’s good pattern. Nations, particularly Britain, which founded itself on the strong foundation of Jesus’ teaching (Matthew 7:24-25), have flourished as societies.

But we are witnessing the collapse of our society before our very eyes, and it is not first-and-foremost because of the laws and policies we’ve pursued.

Our collapse is first-and-foremost due to our rejection of God’s good pattern and our relinquishing proclamation of Jesus as Lord.

We must pray that our nation returns to God.

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people.” (Proverbs 14:34 NIV)

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.” (Psalm 33:12 NIV)

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