What I Wish We Would Pray On The National Day of Prayer

Crossed hands with USA flag

Today is the National Day of Prayer and all across the country, churches will host events catered toward praying that God would bless our country. Unfortunately, I believe praying “God Bless America” is putting the cart before the horse; long before we have the audacity of asking for God’s blessing, we as a nation should enter into a chapter of humble repentance. Even after such a period of repentance, we would still be wise to refrain from petitions of blessing– and would be far better off to begin by asking for His mercy– because our behavior has been worthy of neither.

And so, while many of us will be praying to God on this day asking for things like control of the White House, rulings that side with our political opinions at the Supreme Court, and military victories, I will be longing for us to pray different prayers- prayers that simply begin with “forgive us.”

What I wish we’d pray on this National Day of Prayer:

Almighty God, perfectly revealed through Jesus of Nazareth, the nonviolent lover of enemies, we pray to you:

Forgive us.

On this National Day of Prayer we confess our ignored sins to you and ask your forgiveness and mercy, because we know you, Oh Lord, are good and abounding in mercy.

Forgive us.

Forgive us for being a nation that often claims to be a Christian nation yet who looks nothing like the Christ we find in the New Testament.

Forgive us.

Forgive us for the arrogance that we are somehow “exceptional” or the “greatest nation in history” and the way this self-centered worldview has caused us to treat not only those who bear your image, but your creation as well.

Forgive us.

Forgive us for the sins of our fathers who committed genocide against the inhabitants of this land, and who made the nation prosperous on the backs of slaves.

Forgive us.

Forgive us for the fact that 239 years later, minorities are still oppressed in this land and often their cries go unheard by those of us who hold the nation’s power and privilege.

Forgive us.

Forgive us for placing our hope and our confidence in horses and chariots, and for the way we consistently continue the cycle of violence in the world.

Forgive us.

Forgive us for the upwards of 4 million Muslims we have killed through our wars and policies over the last two decades, and for the fact this number is still not high enough for many of our fellow Christians.

Forgive us.

Forgive us for the phrase “For God and Country” which takes your name in vain by suggesting you actually approve of our violence towards those we perceive as enemies.

Forgive us.

Forgive us for our gun violence across this land, and pray Lord, forgive the Christian community for often suggesting the only solution is actually more guns with fewer restrictions.

Forgive us.

Forgive us for continually supporting economic systems which make the rich richer and the poor poorer, and for defending economic oppression by calling it “biblical.”

Forgive us.

Forgive us for cutting food stamps while increasing weapon spending, a sickness of priorities we know you must find detestable.

Forgive us.

Forgive us for our love of money– the root of all evil– which is causing us to destroy the beautiful planet you have created.

Forgive us.

Forgive us for each toxic chemical pumped into your earth, each drop of oil spilled in your ocean, and each harmful emission pumped into your air.

Forgive us.

Finally, forgive us Lord for the fact that so many of the prayers you’ll hear today will be about preventing LGBT citizens from getting a civil marriage certificate, when what we really should be doing is confessing our sins to you, and begging your mercy on us.

Today, on this National Day of Prayer, we refrain from saying “God Bless America” and instead, we humbly ask that you would forgive it.

Amen.

National Day of Prayer? Great idea! But this is what I’d wish we’d pray before we pray anything else.

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