I think Ascension Day, the church’s rememberance and celebration of our Lord’s Ascension to heaven, at the right hand of the Father to reign in power does coincide with the National Day of Prayer here in the United States. What might that mean for us here, as well as for believers elsewhere?
Jesus through his death and resurrection is Savior of and Lord over all, sitting at the right hand of God in the place of ultimate power. His rule extends beyond, but is especially active in and through his church. But I don’t believe in terms of some of the theology we’ve placed on it. Dominion theology readily comes to mind, and while it can be misunderstood, there is in my mind little if any valid defense for it from scripture itself.
Jesus today reigns through his body the church in the way of the cross. That is the way of love in and through his life and death, we his body now on earth, living as those who share in both his death and resurrection, not only in salvific terms, but also in a sanctifying and missional sense. Jesus’ rule continues to confound the rulers of this world, except insofar as they might begin to take it seriously themselves, and try to fulfill their calling in that light.
And that should make a difference in how we pray for nations, particularly our own nation, and those in governmental authority. We do so primarily in terms of our own calling as Christ’s body, the church. To live peaceful lives in all godliness and holiness as witnesses to Jesus being the one Mediator between God and humans (1 Timothy 2). And so we pray simply that they would be given the wisdom to govern well, certainly that they would look to God for that wisdom, that they would be converted themselves to the faith. And this prayer should be not only on special days, but regularly, and especially corporately, together. We exist in different countries to be a blessing from God to those countries (Jeremiah 29:7).
We pray through the one who is given ultimate authority in heaven and earth, that authority active for us to make disciples of all nations, no less (Matthew 28). Not for, as in our case here, voting in the best candidates and seeing that the nation is run well. That is not our calling, but if we fulfill our calling, that certainly can help for the good of the nation and governments where we live.
And so today I will join with others where I work at Our Daily Bread Ministries for National Day of Prayer, simply to lay before the Lord in prayer the good of this nation, but in terms of not just US national interest, but for the good of the world, and primarily for the sake of the gospel and its spread everywhere, to the building of Christ’s church by the Spirit to the glory of God.