My list on this National Day of Prayer


Today is National Day of Prayer. Above, local photographer Deb Sautter caught this amazing sunrise on camera. God, it seems, is an artist.

Our country needs prayer now more than ever. Here is my list.

By Matt Schepeler
The Exponent/

Today is National Day of Prayer, and most people are aware that there is much to pray about in these turbulent times. I made my own list, which appears below, but before I get to it, it seems that there are two things that need to happen before our prayers will be heard, let alone touch the heart of God and cause the changes we hope to see in our lives.

The first thing is thankfulness.

Even in the most challenging times, we all have something for which to be thankful. We are told to “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.”

God has given us so much. Taking a moment to say “Thanks” is a good conversation starter.

One thing I am thankful for in this time of isolation is a new perspective. Even though I have been working throughout the shut-down, business has slowed, and I see some things that I do not want to go back to doing, a busy-ness that I would just as soon live without. I am thankful for this insight. It will help me use my time better in the future, lending peace – and a better pace – to my life.

There are also unexpected streams of light, even in the darkest days, for which to be grateful. I have a friend who is very poor financially, and she just received her workman’s compensation paycheck. She was giddy when she finally got it, as it was held up for several weeks. She told us that she was especially happy that she was able to pay her telephone bill, as it was about to be cut off. I am very grateful she got that money.

We hear these kinds of stories every day, so we need to resist the temptation to just jump in and start listing off items of complaint to the Almighty Creator of the Universe when approaching Him. Be thankful for something! Give Him the courtesy of expressing a little thought and appreciation when you are attempting to draw near. I think He really likes that.

If gratitude is an ice breaker for us to have effective prayer, repentance is an ice melter, but is so often misunderstood.

God does not want us to repent in order to throw a wet blanket of guilt over us, to put us down, or to make us know our place. Repentance simply helps us to see anew that we have fallen short of truly loving each other, of loving God, and even of loving ourselves.

A miracle happens when we realize that we have fallen short of perfect love and repent of it. Not only are we are cleansed by God’s forgiveness, but it allows us to pray for others compassionately and effectively, acknowledging our common humanity while depending on God’s grace as our foundation.

So, with gratitude for God’s blessings and hearts purified by Christ’s forgiveness, we are able to pray and commune with our Creator.

This is a good place to be.

With that said, here is my list for today’s National Day of Prayer. Feel free to use it. Or, better yet, make up your own. There is nothing God wants more than to commune with you personally, to show you how much He loves you, and to touch the world around you through your heartfelt prayers and petitions.

Pray for President Trump: For wisdom, humility and protection; that he speaks wisely, and that he wields his power in a manner that blesses the country.

Pray for Governor Whitmer and our representatives in the house and senate: That they are not tempted to use the crisis merely as an opportunity for political promotion, but to serve the people they represent in a way that leads to peace and helps heal the division that is in our land.

Pray for someone that irritates you on social media. Pray that you might see things from their perspective, that truth may be revealed to both of you, and that you can still love each other despite your differences.

Pray for our church leaders: Pray for wisdom for them in the coming days, as people grow hungrier and hungrier for truth and spiritual insight. Pray they may share this effectively, and that they fulfill God’s calling on their lives.

Pray for our businessmen and women: Ask that they may have keen insight and see new opportunities in these times of change. Pray that they and their employees may prosper as they meet the needs of the community they serve.

Pray for your family: Pray for forgiveness from those you have hurt, for healing between those from whom you are estranged, and for understanding of those who are just kind of crazy. Every family has one or two crazies. One might even be you!

Pray for racial peace and equal opportunity: Pray that we may acknowledge and even celebrate our differences, and that we may love each other despite those differences. Pray that we all may prosper and fully enjoy the freedom living in this country affords.

Pray for yourself

For love: That you may not only receive God’s love, but shed it on others;

For wisdom: That God’s insight is your daily guide in affairs both practical and spiritual;

For joy: That your life may be richly and deeply blessed by an abiding joy that comes from knowing and dwelling in God’s love;

For peace: That the Messiah’s peace that passes understanding keeps your heart and mind in good times and difficult ones;

For patience: That you may exhibit Yahweh’s character in times of stress;

For kindness: That you may treat others decently and with respect;

For goodness: That you may be keenly aware of what is good and what is not, and to act accordingly;

For faithfulness: That you may be steadfast in your relationships, keeping your promises and fulfilling your obligations.

For gentleness: That you are gentle when someone needs someone to be gentle.

For self control: That your passions and appetites are kept in check by wisdom, that you control them, not they you.

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