A Prayer for America Today

This morning, I stepped into my church’s sanctuary only to discover that our leadership had decided to change the typical order of service for our Sunday morning gathering.

Instead of a sermon today, what our congregation got to experience was a time of specific and intentional prayer for our nation. I am so thankful that our pastors and elders were sensitive to the Spirit of God and directed us in this manner.

Many came into the service today with heavy hearts that needed to be poured out before the King of Kings. Many came with burdens too large to bear on their own.

Perhaps a sermon on another subject would have been informative, edifying, beneficial. But it was though we all sighed with relief when we realized that the thoughts and prayers and burdens we had been carrying all week individually could be presented before God with our brothers and sisters corporately.

A Call to Pray for America

As children of God from a variety of racial backgrounds, we set our gaze to heaven and sought the Lord. We prayed for the victims of this week’s acts of violence and their families by name.

We prayed for government leaders, publically officials, police officers and department chiefs. We prayed for the African American and European American communities.

We prayed and repented for sins of fear, prejudice, abuse of authority, racism, and hatred in our hearts and in the hearts of our countrymen.

We wept together and pleaded with God to forgive our sins and heal our land. Because underneath every issue we are facing as a nation there is a root problem- it is that we are all born sinners in need of a Savior.

Only the message of the Gospel has the power to bring lasting change into the hearts of individuals who are fearful, imbittered, and angry. Only the blood of Christ can heal us from deeply imbedded generational sins of fear and prejudice, hatred, racism, strife, abuse of power, and more.

What America needs, what we all need, is to have a vision of the Lord, high and lifted up on His throne, as Isaiah did when he said, “Woe is me, for I am lost.; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” – Isaiah 6:5

I am praying for myself and for the Church in America to follow the admonition of Scripture that tells us to “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” – Romans 12:9-10

“…weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:15-18; 2

Join with me in praying that the Church in America will set an example in these days – an example of hearts and hands of love and action to foster racial reconciliation, a spirit of empathy and compassion towards those who mourn, a spirit of humility and honor towards our fellow man.

There are practical measures of justice that must be taken by those who are in the positions to accomplish them. Let us pray that they would make life-honoring, God-honoring decisions filled with wisdom:

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” – James 3:17-18

As Saint Francis prayed, “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.”

Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, and The American Church Today


I was first introduced to Dietrich Bonhoeffer my freshman year of college. My professor of the class,”Pauline Epistles” had us read his “Cost of Discipleship” and I was instantly spellbound.

Never had the price of discipleship (or the cost of grace) been so clearly articulated to my young heart. “When Christ calls a man,” said Bonhoeffer, “he bids him come and die.”

Bonhoeffer was a German theologian during World War 2. When many pastors and so-called Christians were choosing to side with Hilter and embrace Anti-Semitism, Bonhoeffer was among the first to publically oppose them.

Bonhoeffer focused all his energy on contemporary theological issues facing the church of his time and gained many enemies by doing so. In the midst of the war, he was invited back to America (where he had studied for a time), but felt immediate regret in his decision to return there:

“I have come to the conclusion that I made a mistake in coming to America. I must live through this difficult period in our national history with the people of Germany. I will have no right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share the trials of this time with my people… Christians in Germany will have to face the terrible alternative of either willing the defeat of their nation in order that Christian civilization may survive or willing the victory of their nation and thereby destroying civilization. I know which of these alternatives I must choose but I cannot make that choice from security…”

Upon his arrival, he was harassed by the Nazis and then imprisoned. Only weeks before the war ended, he was executed by the Nazis at the age of 39.

Bonhoeffer was a man who not only wrote about but also lived out the Cost of Discipleship.

Pondering his life and death leaves me reflecting on what he would say to the American Church today?

Cheap and Costly Grace

Bonhoeffer defines “cheap” and “costly” grace as such:

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

“Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him…Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of His Son.”

What Gospel Have We Embraced?

Christ said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:34-35)

While the Prosperity Gospel tells us to come to Jesus that we might receive health, wealth, success, favor, and freedom from pain and suffering, Jesus tells us plainly, “Anyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12).

Acts 14:22 says that “It is through many tribulations that we must enter the kingdom of God.

Choosing to follow Jesus doesn’t mean we are promised a life with no problems. In fact, as you can see from the scriptures above, it’s quite the opposite.

Are we willing, like Bonhoeffer, to pursue Christ and His plan for our lives rather than pursuing the cultural idols of health, wealth, security, and social acceptance?

Grace is costly because it cost a Jesus his life. Let’s count the cost and follow Him without reservation, knowing that we have a greater and abiding possession in heaven.

Resisting Your Enemy


When two humans have lived together for many years it usually happens that each has tones of voice and expressions of face which are almost unendurably irritating to the other. Work on that. Bring fully into the consciousness of your patient that particular lift of his mother’s eyebrows which he learned to dislike in the nursery, and let him think how much he dislikes it. Let him assume that she knows how annoying it is and does it to annoy–if you know your job he will not notice the immense improbability of the assumption. And, of course, never let him suspect that he has tones and looks which similarly annoy her. As he cannot see or hear himself, this is easily managed.
― C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

I got married at the young age of 23. I will never forget some of the best marital advice I received from an elderly woman who informed me “Never forget who your real enemy is!…It’s not your husband!”

Indeed, as a young, starry-eyed bride, I couldn’t imagine seeing Joel as my enemy, but over time I saw how the advise she gave me was spot-on. When times were hard, tempers got the better of us both, selfish choices stole from servant-hearted intentions, it was easy to be tempted to believe this lie: “he just cares about himself!”

The Father of Lies

Jesus said that Satan is our enemy and he comes “to steal, to kill, and to destroy” – John 10:10a.

Where you see evidences of stealing, killing, and destroying, you can be sure he has been at work. He comes to steal your joy, to kill your hope, and to destroy your closest and dearest relationships.

His strength is weakened when we recognize his lies, expose them, and resist him. 1 Peter 5: 6-9 gives believers in Christ these clear instructions:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

When we humble ourselves before the Lord and ask him to reveal to us any lies we have been believing, He most certainly will!

I find it helpful to write that lie down on paper (expose it) and then write what I know to be the truth (based on God’s Word) next to it. The contrast can be startling at times. It is also helpful to share in confidence these things with your spouse or a trusted friend: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16).


Use the Right Weapons


When Christ was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, he didn’t just use catchy comebacks. He resisted the Devil with the Word of God. Read Matthew 4 and you will see that for every temptation Satan brought, Jesus had a specific word to use as His sword of defense.

God has given us the weapons of prayer and of His Word to resist the enemy of our souls. He calls us to be alert and ready for battle at any time, to not let our guard down.

If you know that you are tempted in a certain area, don’t wait until you are feeling low. Prepare now for how you will resist him when that moment of temptation comes!

For example, if you know that worry is a regular temptation for you, you could write out scriptures that declare how God provides our needs and instructs us to trust him rather than worry. You can cast your cares on God daily and look to Him for peace.

Remember, your enemy is not mere flesh and blood, so earthly weapons won’t do! You need to put on the full armor of Christ to stand firm against evil (Ephesians 6:10-18).

See beyond the person or situation that may be troubling you to the greater enemy that is at work. Resist the devil, and he will flee!

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