Praying as Exiles

Under normal times, governing officials have a great influence on our lives. Governance by elected and unelected officials affects us in many ways. But these days, during this lockdown, we feel government’s hand much more strongly. Some are thankful; some question it. How to respond?

Always, no matter the circumstance, we need to connect our thoughts and feelings about government to God. And we do that by considering the Word, and then praying, along the lines of the Word’s direction. I invite you today to consider Jeremiah 29, verses 4, 5 and 7: 

4 “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce.. . . 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

The context is the exile – when Israel’s nobles and others were taken to Babylon. Looking at this situation from the other side of the cross, Peter sees Christians today in a similar place, calling us “elect exiles” (1 Peter 1:1). But we are actually more exiles that Israel was, for our exile will end only when Christ returns. 

Note how Jeremiah calls us to make the place of our exile home. But only a temporary home. We have dual citizenship, and our citizenship here is very, very temporary. It is not actually our real home. The heavenly, New Jerusalem is our home – our place of permanent citizenship. 

So to put Jeremiah and Peter together: we’re to pray for our temporary home – Elk Grove, Sacramento – with the values and goodnesses of our real home in mind. 

We’re to pray that God would enact some of the goodnesses found in that home here, and now. He does this through means, like governing officials. So we pray for them. We pray that they would do what would be truly in the “welfare” of our city, and not for craven political gain. 

And we make ourselves available to our city. We get informed. We find out for ourselves what would really be in this city’s best interests. We make ourselves available to our city, as means to help. 

But most of all, we pray that people would become citizens of that city that is yet to come, the place of true flourishing, where our welfare is perfect, and unending. 

Pray for your local mayor or primary civic leader today. And send them a note, letting them know that you’re praying along these lines. And make yourself available to them, to help, for the welfare of your city.