Prayer Can Change Nations and
by John Robb
Secular media largely omit
reporting on the role of prayer has played in the great social and
political transformations of our time. Major political and
historical events that have been affected by prayer include the
fall of the Berlin Wall and reunification of Germany, the Romanian
revolution and overthrow of Ceaucescu, and the birth of the new
In all three of these cases,
believers actively prayed for Godís intervention and
transformation during times of conflict and social turmoil which
preceded the positive changes that occurred.
As Christians across Rwanda,
supported by thousands of believers elsewhere in the world, pray
for the reconciliation and healing of their tortured land, a
marvelous thing recently took place. hardened extremists who took
part in the 1994 genocide and in terrorist attacks since that time
are coming out of the jungles to give themselves up and ask
forgiveness for their crimes.
In some cases, those who lost
family members in the rampage now are providing meals and other
forms of caring for the killers. God is at work in a profound
manner, healing inner wounds through the giving and receiving of
We believe the prayers of
thousands of intercessors joined to those of local believers
turned the tide of the Bosnian conflict in August 1995 and will
bring ultimate healing and restoration to that area as prayer
Intercessory prayer plays a
decisive role in bringing Godís healing and transformation to a
society. That is why God seeks to raise up intercessors who will
"stand in the gap" for their land and people.
Ezekiel the prophet describes
the city of Jerusalem as a "city of bloodshed" and tells
us its people had given themselves over to "detestable
practices," abusing the aliens, ill-treating the fatherless
and the widow, committing lewd acts, accepting bribes, practicing
extortion, and profaning the worship of God.
It is in this context that God
looks for a person "among them who would build up the wall
and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would
not have to destroy it" (Ezek. 22:30). Tragically, he find no
Under similar conditions, God
told Isaiah he had put "watchmen" on the walls of
Jerusalem who were to call on the Lord and give themselves no rest
until he made their cry "the praise of the earth" (Isa.
Watchmen functioned as the
guardians of ancient cities, watching for possible invasion and
thus protecting their people from destruction. These particular
watchmen are assigned the positive, transformational role of
intercessors who restlessly call on the Lord until he changes the
nature of the people and city so they will be called "The
Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord...Sought After, The City No
Longer Deserted" (Isa. 62:12).
As Walter Wink notes,
"History belongs to the intercessors who believe the future
into being....These shapers of the future are the intercessors who
call out of the future the longed for present."
Jacque Ellul would agree.
"Prayer goes with action, but it is prayer which is radical
and decisive....In this combat, the Christian who prays acts more
effectively and more decisively on society than a person who is
politically involved with all the sincerity of his faith put into
Perhaps Ezekielís vision of
the valley of dry bones, more than any other metaphor in
Scripture, shows Godís capacity and desire to breathe new life
and hope into the most hopeless and devastating of situations as
his people play their part. As the prophet spoke the words God
gave him, tendons, flesh, and new life came onto the dry, dead
A friend of mine, Don McCurry,
recounted his experience in visiting the African country of Guinea
shortly after the Marxist dictator Sekou Toure seized power. The
cruel tyrant kicked out all but two of the expatriate missionaries
and began torturing his political opponents. The two remaining
missionaries, joined by 12 national pastors and McCurry, met to
intercede for the nation and for the overthrow of this
bloodthirsty, illegitimate ruler. Within one year he was replaced
by a benign leader who reversed his policies and invited the
Prayer leaders in the New York
City area of the United States have noted the
"transformational effect" of ministries like the
Lordís Watch, a 24-hour prayer vigil which has occurred every
month since 1995. It is supported by more than 4,000 people from
They have noticed how a city
known for its dangerous social climate has seen "the most
significant drop in crime" in its history over the last two
years to become the "safest city in America with a population
of 1,000,000 or more." They attribute this to the strong
intercessory prayer in the city for its welfare.
Conversations with World Vision
staff members and other Christian workers in many countries have
convinced us that no real transformation involving people coming
to Christ and adopting the values of his kingdom takes place apart
from the united intercession of Godís people.
Jesus gave us a startling
promise in Matthew 18: 18-19. We used it in Bosnia and have
claimed in other prayer initiatives. "I tell you the
truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and
whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, I
tell you that if two of you agree about anything you ask for, it
will be done for you by my Father in heaven."
In these verses the Lord has
given us a virtually blank check. When we unite in prayer with
other believers, "anything" becomes possible for us,
even changing the history of nations.
John Robb, "Prayer Can
Change Nations and Societies", MARC Newsletter, # 99-1,
February, 1999, pp. 5,6.
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