Without a doubt the most famous quote of President John F. Kennedy’s presidency is, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”
Centuries before JFK uttered these words, Christians the world over had been putting them into practice. Countless Christians have died serving their country in past wars. Others have served faithfully for years in government service. As stewards of the blessings granted to them by the Lord, believers have faithfully rendered some of these blessings unto Caesar in the form of taxes, as per Christ’s instruction. As Daniel Webster once said, “Whatever makes men good Christians makes them good citizens.”
In his first letter to Timothy the apostle Paul records something else that we can do for our country (1 Tim. 2:1f): “I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority . . . .” Our Lord wants us to pray for those who lead our country as well as for the country itself.
In daily life many people turn to God in prayer only in times of trouble. Likewise, many of us probably don’t often think to pray for the country except when things are bad. It would appear many more prayers rise to our Father in heaven in times of war, severe economic depression, political turmoil etc. than in prosperous times.
July fourth, Independence Day, is a fitting holiday for us to remind ourselves to pray for the country, not only in times of trouble but any time, good or bad, or in times of famine or plenty. In his explanation to the Second Commandment Martin Luther reminds us that our Lord wants us to call upon His name in every trouble, to pray, praise, and give thanks.
What can you do for your country? Pray for it. Pray for the nation. Pray for the government. Pray for your fellow citizens. And, like in any other matter, do not only ask God to do things. Praise Him in your prayers for blessing the United States with so much. Give thanks to God for our country and the freedoms He has given us here. Above all we thank Him for the freedom to worship the true God relatively unmolested.
What can you do for your country? As you gave thanks this fourth of July for all of the many blessings the Lord has given, did you remember to ask the Lord to grant unto our nation, and to all the nations of the world, the continued blessings of the Gospel?
There is no greater thing you can do for your country than to ask your heavenly Father to bless this nation with the declaration of REAL independence — independence from sin and the punishment we all have so deserved; independence granted freely by the Father through His Son who shed His own, innocent blood on the cross for our real freedom, freely given in the forgiveness of sins.
–Pastor Joel Fleischer