In 1910, a Christian man from England named Joe Evans was burdened for King Edward VII. One morning, while on vacation in New York, Joe awoke with a strong weight to pray for the King of England. The burden increased throughout the day until Joe prayed with great urgency for the king and his conversion. At the time, King Edward was well known for his drinking, immorality and debauchery. Finally, Joe had a sense of peace and release came, as he was convinced that God had heard his prayer. However, the sudden news came in the following days that "King Edward is dead." Years later, Joe Evans learned from an informed minister friend in England that Edward VII was saved on his death bed. Near the same day of Joe's prayers, his majesty earnestly repented and received the Lord Jesus as his Savior.
This story of the burden to pray and the power of prayer reminds me of Nehemiah in the Old Testament. Nehemiah was a Jew who served a foreign king in the city of Susa in the 5th century BC. While in Susa, Nehemiah received word from his brother and other Israelites who had been in Jerusalem."Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down. and its gates have been burned with fire" (Nehemiah 1:3). Jerusalem and its inhabitants were threatened with destruction. This news burdened Nehemiah. Like Joe Evans centuries later, Nehemiah was troubled to the point of intense prayer. "When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven" (Nehemiah 1:4). In his prayer, Nehemiah confessed his sins and the sins of his nation. "I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father's family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you" (Nehemiah 1 :6-7). He implored God for his intervention."Lord, the God of heaven, ... let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of lsrael...Lord. let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name" (Nehemiah 1:5-6,11). Before Nehemiah reacted in going to Jerusalem to lead in its rebuilding, he prayed. I mean really prayed! This man of God humbly, yet confidently, approached God for His forgiveness and help.
Admittedly, I am not always burdened to pray as I should. More specifically, I'm not olten urgent in my prayers for our nation, its leaders and its future. I am busy and distracted. Sometimes, I don't recognize our country as needing prayer. Nonetheless, you and I should be burdened like Joe Evans and Nehemiah. We should be troubled to the point of intense, focused and persevering prayer for the United States of America and its role in the world. Like Nehemiah, we must confess our sins as a nation, pleading for God's mercy upon us. Like Joe Evans, we should pray for our leaders. Pray for the authentic Christians in our government and for unbelievers to see their need for Jesus. As Christians, it is important for us to be knowledgeable to form and articulate solid opinions based on the Bible. We must be "people of the Truth" in sharing God's perspective, as we learn His Word and apply it to every issue. But first and foremost, we must pray-really pray. Pray for God's wisdom to faithfully stand for His Truth in every situation. Pray for God's power