You can imagine my surprise when the Holy Spirit spoke to our congregation one day saying: “This is to be a house of prayer for all nations.” The surprise wasn’t the statement itself, but rather what I came to learn He meant by it. I presumed a “house of prayer for all nations” meant a worship center that was transcultural, cosmopolitan, and available to all ethnic groups and socioeconomic strata. I thought the Lord meant, “I want you to be non-discriminatory and open to all peoples.”
Well, He did mean that much, of course. But we came to learn that He meant much more. The understanding gradually dawned upon us that we were to be a “house” in the sense of a congregation that gave itself to praying for all nations of the world. The God who called us to pray for our own land was now pointing to new levels of intercessions for all lands.
Praying for the whole world is a vast undertaking, and it is often hard to know where to start. So open your Bible with me and meditate upon the scriptures which follow each comment here. Here is a biblical guide to prayer for the nations.
To begin, it is scriptural to pray for all nations. Man refers to “closed doors”, but God knows none. “Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations [“heathen,” KJV] for your inheritance…” (Psalm 2:8). Passivity or a sense of futility is unscriptural. We are summoned to believe that prayer for nations shall bring deliverance (Psalm 71:11-12). A waiting until the millennium for Christ’s rule of the nations is not our directive. He shall rule them then, but we are called to pray for the invasion of His life and power there now (Luke 19:12-13; John 4:35).
Of course, the most obvious point is to pray for ministries we know are faithful to the Gospel in each land (Col. 4:2-3; Eph. 6:19-20) and against principalities and powers which seek to obstruct the work of God everywhere (Eph. 6:12; 2 Cor. 10:3-5). These obvious points of launching were embellished for us, however, when the Lord began to show us the Bible basis for praying that national leaders be moved under the hand of the Almighty God. Proverbs 21:1 stirred my thoughts: “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.” Suddenly I recognized the incredible possibilities of national transformation—not by patterns we would recommend to God, but by power we could release through prayer to God. Here are the insights we gained in regard to prayer at this dimension:
First: Be convinced that God has placed them in their positions. As to whether they have ruled in evil or righteousness, they will give account, but it is God’s sovereignty that has ordained their term of government nonetheless (Rom. 13:1-4).
Second: It is, therefore, the believer’s responsibility to pray for all governmental leaders. Our calling is not to pass judgment on their rule but, obedient to God’s Word, to enter into prayer with intercession that order and peace may fill each land (1 Tim 2:1-2).
Third: Such praying makes possible the rise of righteous rule in any land, for God overrules in all things when intercessory prayer prevails (Psalm 75:7-10). Further, such praying pleases God for it paves the way for fruitful evangelism to take place in each nation (1 Tim. 2:3-4).
Fourth: Therefore, let your heart be filled with confidence that prayer will introduce God’s overruling hand wherever faithful believers call forth His dominion. “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10) is a prayer Jesus taught us to pray now!
Fifth: Pray strategically.
Pray for a nation’s leader to be taught by God that the Lord Almighty is the source of his rulership; that humility fill the hearts of kings who learn to fear God (Dan. 4:34-35).
Pray for a nation’s leader to love his people more than he loves himself; that he serve as a shepherd and not as a taskmaster (Micah 6:8; Jer. 23:4-5).
And finally: Pray for the family of each national leader. God is able to work wonders in the heart of any person at this practical dimension of their daily life. Rightly ordered authority begins in the home–in family relationships. Pray for miracles in the households of world leaders (Phil. 4:22).
A global intercessor cannot waver in the conviction that all things are possible to him that believes (Mark 9:23). With the offer of these biblical guidelines to national and international intercession, may I extend the offer that you join me in framing up a “house”—a body of believers in your congregation that prays for all nations.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture verses are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.