A Prayer for the Nation

Our gracious and loving God,

In just a few days, our nation will celebrate its 242nd birthday. There will be parades, picnics, barbecues, and fireworks. Hopefully we will spend time remembering where we have come from, but also looking ahead to who you want us to become as a nation.

As a citizen of the great country, I want to thank you. I want to thank you…

for the rich heritage and incredible resources we have enjoyed for these almost two and a half centuries.
for all of those who have gone before us and upon whose shoulders we stand.
for those who have sacrificed life and limb on the battlefields of foreign lands, in the pursuit of upholding the law in this land, in fighting fires that threaten homes, and in the fight against terrorism.
for those politicians and civil servants who are persons of high character and who undergo tremendous scrutiny even as they seek to do that which they believe is right. I know that not all are like this, but many do espouse these commitments.
for all those people whose names will never become famous, but who go about their everyday lives seeking to be an extension of the goodness and grace, the kindness and generosity best exemplified in your son, Jesus.
the freedom to go where we want, when we want, and to do whatever we want so long as it does not infringe on the rights of others.

Of all countries, we are blessed.

At the same time, I must confess to you that I am deeply concerned. I am concerned…

at what I perceive to be the erosion of decency, common courtesy, everyday kindness, human rights, and civility in so many quarters of our country.
at the divisiveness, racism, and fear that seems so prevalent.
about the talk show hosts on the radio and in the news who seem bent on exploiting our differences and deepening the divide that exists between us, all for their own gain.
about the women (and men) who have been physically and sexually mistreated by those in positions of power.

Oh God, help us to guard the good treasure that you have entrusted to us. Remind us that we are stronger together than we are apart. Teach us how to bring down the walls that separate us, recapture the high ideals that find their source in love, work for the betterment of all people, and lift the bar of character to which we aspire.

Lord, I will tell you that I am encouraged. As I look at a new generation of people who are assuming their responsibilities as parents, in the work place, and leaders in the community, I sense a new wind that is adrift. I see in them bright minds, community activism, a desire for authenticity, and the dream of a better country. Place a hedge of protection around them that they do not become disillusioned or lost in an age of materialism. Remind them that life at its best is always found in you, your will, and your call upon their lives.

As I pray this prayer, I can’t help but think of the prayer Daniel Webster once prayed for this country, “When my eyes shall be turned to behold for the last time the sun in heaven, may they not see her shining on the broken, dismembered fragments of a once glorious nation… But rather, let them gaze on a strong limbed, clean minded, healthy souled people.”

Oh God, let it be so! Amen!