Pray for Britain
Things are not as they should be, but what can we as people of faith do about it?
Published 01 June 2012 | Dr P G Nelson
Britain is in a very bad state. It is in a very bad state financially. The country is in debt, and the debt is increasing. To try to bring the debt down, the Government is cutting public spending and jobs are being lost. The country is also in a very bad state morally and socially. MPs were caught fiddling their expenses. Bankers have been paying themselves huge bonuses. The media have been polluting the country with scandal, and breaking the law to get it. Families are breaking up. There is a great deal of crime and anti-social behaviour. Old people are being neglected in some care homes. Young people are growing up with little to guide them and surrounded by temptations.
I know someone who did her teacher training in an inner-city school. Out of a class of 26, only two were living with their own mother and father at home.
We are in a mess. Why?
As Christians, we know the answer. Since the war, as a country, we have rejected the Christian basis of our society. We have done away with laws that promote good behaviour, and brought in legislation that allows people to do what they like.
We have done what the Jewish nation did in Jeremiah’s day. He wrote, “Be amazed, O heavens, at this, and horrified; be utterly desolate, declares the LORD. For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, to hew reservoirs for themselves, cracked reservoirs that cannot hold water” (Jeremiah 2:12−13).
This is a powerful picture. In Israel, pure water is a precious commodity. God says that he will provide his people with pure water. But the people have turned their backs on him, and tried to create their own supplies of water – useless supplies, that do not give water.
This is exactly what Britain has done since the 1950s.
The question is, what can we do about it?
Let me suggest three things.
The first is to pray – pray for the country.
After King Solomon had built and consecrated the temple in Jerusalem, the Lord said to him, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. If I shut up the heavens and there is no rain, or if I command locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people, and my people, who are called by my name, humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn back from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, and forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:12−14).
Here God promises his people that, if they repent of their sins and call upon him, he will have mercy on them.
So the first thing we can do about the state of the country is to pray – pray that God will have mercy on us as a people, turn us back to him, and heal our land.
This is a prayer we can pray even if the country becomes as godless as Rome was before Constantine. Paul instructed Timothy at Ephesus, “I urge then, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people – for kings and all those who are in high positions, that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life with all piety and dignity. This [such prayer] is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a full knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1−3).
Paul says that our first responsibility as Christians is to pray for the country, “that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life with all piety and dignity”. This is something we can all do (compare Anna in Luke 2:36−38).
Setting an example
The second thing we can do is to set as good an example as we can of living according to the law of God and teaching of Jesus.
Remember that Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth [preserving society]. But if salt has lost its potency, with what shall it be made salty? It is no longer good for anything, except to be cast out and trodden down by people. You are the light of the world [showing people how to live]. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a tub, but on a lamp-stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they may see your good deeds and give glory to your father in heaven” (Matthew 5:13−16).
Our responsibility as Christians is to set as good an example as we can to the people around us. They may not appear to notice, but they do, and one day they will acknowledge it.
Peter tells us, “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and exiles to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul. Maintain good conduct among the people of the world, so that, while they speak against you as evil-doers, they may, by observing your good deeds, give glory to God on the day of his visitation” (1 Peter 2:11−12).
The third thing we can do about the state of the country is to speak to others about our Christian faith. Jesus gave the Church the Great Commission, “Go and make disciples of all nations …” (Matthew 28:19−20). Peter accordingly told individual Christians, “Be ready always to make a case to everyone who asks you for an explanation of the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).
If we live as we should, people may sometimes ask us about our faith. If they do, this gives us an opportunity to speak to them about it. We may also be able to create opportunities, if we are prayerful, to speak to others about what we believe.
What we say depends on who we are speaking to. However, most people these days know very little about the Christian faith. We accordingly have to begin at the beginning, as Paul did at Athens (Acts 17:22−31). We have to say that we believe in God, who created the universe in which we live, and has given us laws to live by. These laws are very important. Society works well when people keep them; it breaks down when people disobey them.
This is where our message to the country begins. Once people have grasped this, we can go on to tell them about Jesus – Jesus who came to save us from our failure to keep God’s law and to help us to keep it in the future – Jesus who died on the cross to secure the forgiveness of our sins, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and who from heaven invites us to come to him for forgiveness and his help to live the life God wants us to live.
“God so loved the world,” we can say, “that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever has faith in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
People need to hear this message. Our families need to hear it; our friends need to hear it; our colleagues need to hear it; our neighbours need to hear it. Who is going to tell them? Maybe we are the only ones who can tell them. If we are, we must try to do so, with the Lord’s help.
If Christians do this all over the country, there may yet be a turning back to God, and the revival for which we pray.
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