Praying for Healing in Troubled Times
Anxious about our nation’s various crises? There’s something you can do today that will make a great difference
By Patricia Raybon
The Word of God is crystal clear on what to do in times of national crisis. Throughout the Bible, He spells out the four things a nation and its people must do to experience healing: humble ourselves, pray, “seek His face,” and turn from our sinful ways. That’s what God specifically told Solomon, the king of Israel, in 2 Chronicles 7:13-14.
In a lesser-known biblical scenario found in the book of Jonah, the very same prescription for national healing was given by God and resulted in dramatic restoration. When the powerful Assyrian city of Nineveh (now located near modern-day Mosul, Iraq) faced destruction, Nineveh’s king followed very single one of these four healing remedies.
When he heard the Lord’s warning from the prophet Jonah, he completely humbled himself in the way ancient people did: he tore off his royal robes and covered himself with sackcloth, even publically sitting in an ash heap (Jonah 3:6).Next, he issued a royal decree calling all his people to repent of their “evil ways,” fast from food to seek God, and “urgently” pray for mercy. The king also issued a national decree for everyone to “call urgently on God” (Jonah 3:8).
“Who knows?” he said. “God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish” (Jonah 3:9 NIV). Indeed, in that story, when God saw their humility and how they genuinely turned from their evil ways, He had compassion on them and did not bring the destruction upon them He had warned them of (Jonah 3:10).
These steps, borrowed from Nineveh’s story, can guide and inspire us to effectively pray for our nation in the coming months ahead.
1) Be still before God.
Choose to quit spinning in circles about what's going on in the news cycle. Instead, as Psalm 46 exhorts us to do, we should be still before the Lord (Ps. 46:11) and acknowledge His sovereignty, even in times of trouble (Ps. 46:1). Each day, take time out to get quiet and turn your attention solely on God, focusing on His amazing presence and breathing in His rest, peace, and wisdom. Consider this promise: "They who dwell in the secret place of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty" (Psalm 91:1). The result? Refreshment, renewed vision, and more powerful prayer.
2) Seek God wholeheartedly.
Commit your worries and concerns to God and instead, put your energy into seeking His face (1 Chronicles 16:11; Psalm 105:4). Doing so changes our focus from the news, the crisis, and ourselves, and turns it back to the Lord. As we humbly seek Him, we’ll begin to recognize that He is already taking care of us, providing His answers to our problems. Matthew 6:33 is key to a healthy perspective: when you “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” before anything else, He will meet your other needs.
3) Commit to forgiveness with humility.
Jesus said: "And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." (Mark 11:25). When you humbly turn from the sin of unforgiveness against others, you not only glorify God; you free yourself to receive His answers to your prayers. Ask the Holy Spirit to remove vengeful, bitter, or antagonistic feelings about others from your heart, and look to Jesus’ ultimate forgiveness on the Cross—and the healing He offers.
4) Completely turn away from sin.
If you have a hidden fault – one you know is offensive to God – now is the time to turn from it for good. Focus today not on what sins others have committed; instead, examine your own life and reconcile with the Lord. Consider His words to Solomon in 2 Chronicles 7:13: “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
5) Get up and get busy serving others.
Put some “feet” to your prayers. First, ask God to give you His compassion for others. Consider His attitude toward the city for which Jonah had nothing but disdain: “Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?” Use this time of national crisis to help your neighbor. Ask God to show you someone else’s needs that you can meet. After all, praying is not just about asking; it’s about how we live.
Patricia Raybon is the author of I Told the Mountain to Move: Learning to Pray So Things Change.