I am thankful that the Lord instructs us how to pray. We want to pray what is on God’s heart and mind, agreeing with what He feels is important for us to pray. We want to hear from Him and respond with intercession by praying for others or a certain situation. This can be difficult to do as there are so many things that vie for our attention, so it is encouraging to see the ways the Lord helps us to know what and how to pray.
I had a small encounter that has fueled my prayers concerning praying for the United States. I had a short dream around October 15. In the dream I was talking to a group of people from the book of Joel. Joel is a prophetic book in the Old Testament, and specifically Joel 2 is a Scripture that is insightful to us as to how we as the people of God should respond in a time of crisis. The command in the book of Joel is to gather the people together, cry out to God, and return to Him with all our heart. Then in the dream, a man, who I feel represented the Lord and also faithfulness in the word of God, said to me, “Look at Athaliah.” It was almost as if that phrase was added to the message of Joel I was sharing.
So, who was Athaliah? In the Scripture, Athaliah was a wicked woman, the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, two of the wickedest rulers in Israel’s history. She married Jehoram, the son of Jehosophat, one of the kings of the southern kingdom of Judah (2 Kings 8:16-18). Their son, Ahaziah, reigned after Jehoram died. Both her husband and her son “did evil in the sight of the Lord.” Ahaziah walked in wickedness like the house of Ahab. His mother, Athalia, advised Him to do wickedly. She was a great proponent of Baal worship which included much idolatry and sexual immorality. In 2 Kings 11:1-21, it is recorded that after Ahaziah’s death Athaliah usurped the throne and killed all the rightful, royal heirs to the throne. From the heirs, Joash was spared and hidden for 6 years in the house of the Lord. At the right time, Jehoida, the priest, along with the military captains and their thousands of armed men, arranged for a rightful coronation of the young King Joash. As a result, Athaliah was slain, Joash took the throne, and the temple of Baal was destroyed. For part of his reign, Joash did what was right in the sight of the Lord. Joash even instructed the temple of the Lord to be repaired.
For me, the Lord highlighted this account through this short dream to alert me to pray about some of these things in connection to our current national situation.
First of all, we need to look at what Athaliah promoted. It was Baal worship. This is not pleasing to God. In America, we see the promotion of the evil practices of sexual immorality and idolatry. We need to recognize those who are promoting this in our nation and call it for what it is, Baal worship.
Athaliah usurped the throne. This parallels a real desire in some in this nation to take positions of authority illegally. We need to pray against it. As we look around our nation we see individuals and groups grabbing for authority that is not rightfully theirs, and seeking to overthrow government and authority with violence, rioting, and destruction. This is not godly, but lawless. As we approach this election on Tuesday, there is more and more talk of subversion of authority. I believe that we need to pray for these attempts to usurp rightful authority to be brought to nothing and be made ineffective.
Athaliah also killed the rightful heirs. We need to pray for threats against rightful leaders and godly leaders to be halted. We need to also pray that those who are in positions of leadership would embrace godly principles and policies (I Timothy 2:1-4). We need to pray for those God has “hidden away” to come into rightful places of authority at the right time. I believe this happened with the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett at this time to help preserve the godly principles in our nation’s founding document and to be used to end abortion in our land.
When there is so much going on in our nation, it can be overwhelming to know how to focus our prayers. It can be discouraging and depressing to look around and see the crisis and trouble. Yet as believers in the Lord and because He instructs us to pray, it is imperative that we pray in these times. It is imperative we know His character and ways in the Scripture. We find in the Word important directives of what to pray (for the church, people in authority, etc). Even so, we can be overwhelmed by the mountains of needs/crisis/tumult we need to pray about. I am encouraged that He can reveal to us how to focus our prayers. I am thankful He gives specific direction in what to pray in the Scripture. Let’s ask Him to help us pray about the things on His heart, interceding for others and our nation according to His word and ways.
Matthew or Julie Wine