I started the National Day of Prayer by joining with other leaders from Terre Haute with a wonderful prayer gathering sponsored by Youth for Christ. As my morning unfolded God brought to mind this particular passage from the Old Testament book of Jeremiah.

This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:  “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.  Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.

Jeremiah 29:4-7 (emphasis mine)

We quickly remember the occasion for the prophet’s words: Jerusalem has been destroyed and the people have been carried off into Babylonian exile.  As astounding as it may seem to us, God’s word comes: Don’t waste your exile. Settle in for the long haul; live a normal life; pray for the peace and prosperity of the nation of Babylon; as it goes so will you.  The phrase ‘value added’ comes to mind. God instructs the exiled people of Judah to be the kind of citizens that make Babylon a better place to live. Their lives would be a testimony to their enemy captors.

Centuries later Paul would instruct Timothy, “I urge, then, first of all that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4

The immutable Word of God – be the kind of people that make the place you live a better place to live.  Be a transforming presence. Your lives will be a testimony to all people that your trust and hope is in God.  Instead of murmuring – pray. Charles Feinberg writes, “To this day, they (Jews) pray in their worship on the Sabbath and on festivals for the rulers under whom they are living”  

Some days it feels like we are living in exile as Christians become more and more marginalized. Still I wonder what difference it would make if at the beginning of each work week we committed time as a people to pray specifically for the leaders of our city?  We could pray for the mayor and his staff; we could pray for the city council; we could pray for our county officials; we could pray for business leaders and others who make this city prosper; we could pray for our neighborhoods; we could pray for (fill in the blank). We could call it Terre Haute Monday …

Join me in this most worthy endeavor of knocking down barriers through prayer.

 

 

1Feinberg, C (1992) Expositors bible commentary, volume 6, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, p. 554

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