Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD…  Psalm 33:12  (NIV)


During the Civil War, there was an increase in “religious sentiment,” perhaps comparable to what we experienced right after the tragedy of 9/11.  Suffering tends to makes us look outside ourselves to see what God might be doing or saying and how we might respond.

And so it was that when our country was going through the most divisive time in its history, Rev. M. R. Watkinson from Pennsylvania wrote to Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase asking that “Almighty God” be somehow recognized on our currency.  After all, from ancient times gods and rulers had their place of honor on the coinage of the land.  Why shouldn’t the United States acknowledge God’s rightful role in our national affairs?

Secretary Chase responded by instructing the Director of the Mint to prepare a motto, saying, No nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or safe except in His defense. The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins.  Once the design was approved, it went to Congress, and the Act adding Chase’s notation passed in April 22, 1864.  Eventually, this saying was added to our paper currency.  On July 30, 1956, a Joint Resolution of the 84th Congress and approved by the President declared IN GOD WE TRUST the national motto of the United States.

On November 8, 2016, our country experienced a gut-wrenching upheaval as the results of our national election were announced.  For days analysts and pundits have tried to determine what happened.  Did anyone really anticipate the historic event that has provoked rioting among some citizens and hope among others?  And yet, we are one nation under God.

Did you take notice that in the late 19th Century one man, Rev. Watkinson, was compelled to act after having felt “our national shame in disowning God as not the least of our present national disasters?”  One man moved by God did what he could to make a difference in our country.  And now our national motto is IN GOD WE TRUST.

Let us, as good citizens of our beloved country and members of the Church, continue to rise in prayer on behalf of our nation:  for healing, for repentance, for spiritual renewal.  And let us pray for all our leaders that we would be established in righteousness (I Timothy 2:1-4, Romans 13:1).


Father, your grace has brought us safe thus far.  You established us as a nation for your purposes and have seen us through “many dangers, toils, and snares.”  In thanksgiving for your love and your grace, we ask you to forgive us for not loving our neighbors as ourselves and for choosing our own ways instead of yours; heal us; unite us in your love; be with all our leaders and give them wisdom to govern this great nation.  IN GOD WE TRUST.  AMEN.


* Information gathered from



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 have welfare. Jeremiah 29:7

How do you tell Christians living in the middle of severe persecution and repression to pray for the perpetrators?  Well, that’s exactly what John Chew, former Archbishop of Singapore, told his thousands of parishioners who live in Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Nepal, Vietnam, and Thailand.  Some of those countries are on the World Watch List (Open Doors) for persecution of Christians.

When I questioned Chew about this strange mandate, he reminded me of the context of this verse penned by the Jeremiah.  Thousands of years ago, the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah warned the people of Judah of impending disaster if they continued to disregard God and his laws.  In spite of repeated warnings from numerous men of God, the people continued to follow their own desires, worshiping idols, abusing the poor, sacrificing their own children, and turning their backs on God. Finally, they were taken into captivity in Babylon.  Many would never return to their homes.  In distress one of the exiles wrote a plaintive dirge (Psalm 137):


By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.

There on the poplars

we hung our harps,

for there our captors asked us for songs,

our tormentors demanded songs of joy;

they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

How can we sing the songs of the Lord

while in a foreign land?

And yet, it was to these very exiles that Jeremiah wrote the words that persecuted Christians in Archbishop Chew’s churches would also be given:  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 have welfare.  Jeremiah and Chew both understood that God’s grace, whether in exile or in persecution, was abundant and that God would sustain through their prayers and repentance.  “In its welfare you will have welfare” reminded them that nations and communities at peace are more likely to benefit the people than those experiencing deprivation, violence, or unrest.

Paul took this a step further when he admonished Timothy (2:2) to “pray for rulers and for all who have authority. Pray for these leaders so that we can live quiet and peaceful lives—lives full of devotion to God and respect for him.”  He didn’t put any stipulations on the prayers such as “pray for good rulers” or “pray for the rulers you like.”

Perhaps one of the reasons we experience so much conflict at home and abroad is that we’ve forgotten that strange mandate about praying for cities, for leaders, for all in authority.  It’s not too late to start.


Father, all the leaders of the world bear heavy burdens.  Work your will, your peace, and your love in their hearts.  Fill them with your wisdom to govern that we may all live in peace and bring glory to your name.  In Jesus our Lord.  AMEN.