Anyone reborn of the Holy Spirit will naturally lament, with inward groans and outward cries, all the brokenness afflicting “the whole world—and everyone in it.” But a prayer aspiring to everything has a subtle way of shrinking to nothing. For all the hazards of praying “God bless America,” and for all the other prayers we ought to pray, it remains a prayer for something real and tangible.
Not every Christian will fit the “patriotic” profile, at least in its conventional sense. Maybe you think fondly of your native land but feel called to the mission field. Maybe your country has wronged you grievously, and genuine affection sounds preposterous. And frankly, maybe you just aren’t wired to tear up when the national anthem rings out or the flag ripples in the breeze.
But as long as we have nations, we’re going to need people willing to look after their welfare. In Jeremiah 29:5–7, the prophet relays God’s message to the Jews taken captive in Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters. . . . Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile.”
As exiles ourselves (1 Pet. 2:11), it’s hard to improve on this mission statement.