How to pray for a nation that has turned its back on God.
Today, 8 September, is being observed as a day of prayer by many Christians throughout Britain. Exactly 77 years ago, on 8 September 1940 (a Sunday), King George VI called the nation to a day of prayer.
It was intended to be a day of thanksgiving for what had become known as the ‘Miracle of Dunkirk’, when some 330,000 troops were evacuated safely with the help of an armada of little boats to get them off the beaches in France and back to England. But 8 September, as if by some prophetic foreknowledge, came at the height of the Battle of Britain, with thousands of enemy bombers darkening the skies of England.
The prayer day was perfectly timed and the Spitfires and Hurricanes of the RAF took a tremendous toll of the German air force. Then, for no rational reason, Hitler suddenly ordered the Luftwaffe to cease attacking RAF airfields.
By 17 September 1940 the German Supreme Command issued an order saying that the invasion of England was postponed “until further notice”. The Battle of Britain was won and Winston Churchill addressed the nation with his iconic speech, declaring, “Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few.”
Exactly 77 years ago today the king called the nation to a day of prayer
How to Pray?
I am on record as saying that I can no longer pray for the health and wellbeing of the United Kingdom. That does not mean that I do not pray for the nation – but I am careful how I pray. I need to pray in line with what I’m hearing from the Lord.
I cannot pray “peace, peace”, if the Lord is saying “There is no peace”! And I cannot pray for revival and blessing if I know the Lord is saying there will be no revival until there is repentance – at least repentance in the Church, if not repentance in the nation.
If there were repentance in the Church, there would undoubtedly be an outpouring of the Spirit of God. This could be the spark that ignites evangelism to the nation as a whole, with the potential of widespread revival. But that is unlikely, because there is so little understanding among Christians of the nature of the battle we are facing.
Political and Religious Red Lines
In Jeremiah’s day both the politicians and the religious leaders were in rebellion against God. They each crossed a red line and that was why Jeremiah was told to stop praying for the wellbeing of the nation and concentrate instead upon praying for those things that would lead to the fulfilment of God’s good purposes.
Jeremiah was appalled by the actions of the king and his political advisers when the envoys of all the nations surrounding Israel met in Jerusalem to hatch a plot to revolt against the Babylonian Empire (Jer 27).
Zedekiah had sworn an oath in the Name of the God of Israel to be loyal to Nebuchadnezzar when he was appointed king, so Jeremiah saw this plot as dishonouring to God. He knew that it would lead to disaster for Jerusalem and the whole nation – it was a political red line.
Jeremiah knew that both the politicians and religious leaders had crossed the red lines-which was why he was told to stop praying for the nation’s well being.
The religious red line was in the rejection by the priests of what’s known as Jeremiah’s ‘Temple Sermon’ (Jer 7), where he outlined the sins of Jerusalem and followed this with a vivid description of the way whole families were involved in idolatry on the streets of the city: “The children gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough and make cakes of bread for the Queen of Heaven.”1
All this was going on under the noses of the priests and Temple authorities, who were so convinced that God would never allow the Gentiles to destroy the Temple or the Holy City that they did not care what the people were doing. They were deaf and blind to the dangers facing them.
Britain’s Red Lines
In Britain, there have been successive warnings to both Church and State as we have drifted farther away from biblical truth as a nation and embraced secular values that are directly against the word of God.
As far back as 1985 we began our warnings in Prophecy Today, commenting on the lightning strike on York Minster the previous year, which had occurred only hours after the consecration of David Jenkins as Bishop of Durham. Jenkins had famously described the resurrection of Jesus as a “conjuring trick with bones”.
His lack of belief in the Bible shocked the nation, but he was appointed by Archbishop Runcie, who also had little respect for the Bible and was more interested in forming a one-world religion. He led the Anglican Church for 10 years while the forces of secular humanism were gathering momentum in the nation and there was a great need for a strong Christian presence.
In Britain, there have been successive warnings both to Church and State as we have drifted farther away from Biblical truth as a nation.
We believe that the political red line was crossed in the UK when David Cameron came back from an EU leaders’ meeting in 2010 determined to be a good European and obey their directive that all member states should accept same-sex marriage by the year 2013. Cameron managed to meet that deadline by driving the Act through Parliament, against the wishes of more than a hundred of his own MPs.
Judgment immediately fell upon Maria Miller, the Minister who had steered the Act through Parliament, who lost her job within weeks. Cameron was spared long enough to call the Referendum enabling Britain to get out of the godless EU, but Brexit immediately ended his political career.
The Church of England Synod in July this year breached a religious red line when it rejected an amendment committing the Church to be more active in evangelism and sharing the Gospel with people of other faiths in Britain, while at the same time agreeing to devise a service to celebrate the new gender of transgender people. This committed the state Church to supporting the objectives of the LGBTQ movement, which is determined to destroy the family and human identity as men and women created by God.
God’s Good Purposes
I believe the Lord has now removed his cover of protection over the land which has already resulted in an increase in acts of terrorism and disasters such as the Grenfell Tower fire. So how do we pray for a nation that has deliberately put itself against God?
I believe the Lord has now removed His cover of protection over the land.
Again, Jeremiah gives us the answer. He says, “The Lord showed me two baskets of figs placed in front of the temple of the Lord” (Jer 24:1). One was full of good figs and the other full of rotting fruit. Through this picture God revealed his long-term purposes for the good of the nation.
We need to discern the purposes of God for Britain – for the Church and for the nation as a whole. I am convinced that in the long-term God does have good purposes for the nation that will bring blessings and prosperity, but we will have to go through a difficult time which will truly test the dwindling faith of the nation.
This is where the faithful Christian minority has a vital role to play, to do what Ezekiel calls ‘standing in the gap’ (Ezek 22:30): to seek the Lord together, to intercede for those who do not know how, to discern how the Lord would help us recover what is being lost to our spiritual enemy and to pray positively into these issues.
This is where the wisdom of the Holy Spirit is vital and where mature, Bible-believing Christians can play an historic part in reviving the Church and bringing the nation back under God’s protection.
1 The ‘Queen of Heaven’ was a title for Ishtar, an Assyrian and Babylonian goddess (also known as Ashtoreth/Astarte).
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