AMERICANS, do you ever pray for what you affirm every time you recite your pledge? On May 3, you can! “One Nation, Under God” is the official theme of the 50th National Day of Prayer celebration. Under the leadership of Shirley Dobson and the National Prayer Committee, with Billy Graham as the honorary chairman, America will be called to pray that “one nation, under God” might become a greater reality for us than we have ever known.
Praying his own nation into a second Great Awakening, British political leader William Wilberforce noted: “My own solid hopes for the well-being of my country depend, not so much on her navies and armies, nor on the wisdom of her rulers, nor on the spirit of her people, as on the persuasion that she still contains many who love and obey the gospel of Christ. I believe that their prayers may yet prevail.”
Passionate, praying Christians today interceding for a sweeping revival, are inviting the Holy Spirit to fill up the phrase “one nation under God” with biblical substance and conviction. What if every time Americans stood to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, we also prayed it in holy fear, gripped by the undeniable reality that as a people we are under Almighty God? How might that shape our intercessions for our land? Let’s look.
ONE. Our nation’s seal reads E. Pluribus Unum, or “out of the many, one.” How were the many made one? Surely at the heart of this fusion is a divine calling and destiny that birthed a nation and kept it as one. Shortly before his election, George W Bush observed: “Our nation is chosen by God and commissioned by history to be a model to the world of justice and inclusion and diversity without division.” We may not have enacted this model very well yet. But by God’s summons, we are one, and we are blessed in order to be a blessing to the earth. We should pray earnestly for a national awakening to our God-given destiny, and that we will spawn humble determination to glorify God as we fulfill it.
NATION. Never in history has there been a nation of such prosperity, influence, and power. It dominates the world of media, economics, science and technology, military strength, arts and entertainment, and international relations. According to Paul in Acts 17, God determines our specific times and places preeminently so that we might seek and find Him. In other words, what we call “America” is one of God’s unique arenas for saving encounters with Himself. We should pray, therefore, for a national awakening to the real reason behind our nationhood, followed by a widespread turning to the One who orchestrated it.
UNDER. America is not a theocracy We are a democracy: a government of, by and for the people. Still, we are accountable to the living God, and a majority of us (according to recent polls) knows it. Verse two of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” concludes: “Protect us by Thy might, great God our King.” With those words, we declare His sovereignty and supremacy over our land; we position ourselves under His wings for our protection and salvation. At His feet, all that we are and have as a nation are His. Nothing-including our injustices, immoralities, greed, brokenness, fears, divisions, arrogance, or death-dealing ways-is hidden from His sight. All is laid bare before His eyes (Heb. 4:13). For His glory alone, we have survived to this hour. We should pray urgently for a national awakening to this accountability before God, beginning with deep and pervasive repentance by all of us.
GOD. Unfortunately our nation’s motto, “In God We Trust,” does not define which “god.” Is He the God of some of our deist founders? Is He the Judeo-Christian God confessed by our earliest forefathers? Whether they know it or not, Americans are pledging to a revelatory God, whose holy character and righteous ways trump all deist propositions.
To whom should America answer? Let’s pray for a national awakening to the God of the Bible, who is personal, active, engaged, and purposeful, weighing all things in the balances of His justice. To the God of covenant-of grace and mercy salvation, and redemption; of the cross, resurrection, and ascension. To the King whose dominion crushes all other powers as it fills the earth (Dan. 2:40). To the One who gives His Son the nations (including ours) as an inheritance (Ps. 2:8). To the Son who rules all the kings of the earth (Rev. 1:5), defying their empires and armies, crushing them by His eternal Word (Rev. 19:15).
We must intensify prayer for a burst of holy fire in the belly of the church in America, a fire that consumes believers with the supreme “pledge” of total allegiance to Jesus Christ with heart, soul, and strength. As citizens of heaven, we pledge ourselves to a new creation (Col. 3:9-11), where there are no distinctions between genders, ethnicities, or nationalities and where the motto is “Christ is all, and is in all!” (v. 11).
Can we truly become one nation under God? Why not? Our God loves to perform the impossible. Call it revival! Call it the second American Revolution! Call it forth by prayer!