Sometimes a sermon can change a large number of people. Sometimes a book can.
And sometimes, it just takes one sentence.
After disobeying the command to go to Nineveh and finding himself washed up on the beach, covered in fish vomit, Jonah got a second chance.
“Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” Jonah 3:2 (ESV)
The message that God gave to Jonah was not to be written out in book form or to be preached with three points and a poem at the end. This message would be one simple sentence.
And that sentence would change an entire city.
“Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”
Upon hearing this, the people believed God, repented and fasted. But this revival was not confined to the common folk. The impact of this one, God-anointed sentence would even be felt in the heart of the man who ruled the city.
Hopefully by tomorrow morning we will know who will be our president for the next four years. Whether the news is good or bad for you, if you are a Christian you should pray that your president has the same response to the mercy and grace of God as the king of Nineveh did.
1. Pray that our president has vision.
The word reached the king of Nineveh. Jonah 3:6 (ESV)
I’m not talking about the kind of vision that helps people make wise decisions. That’s important but the vision we should be praying for is even more critical. This is the kind of vision that comes when the Holy Spirit removes Satan’s blinders from the eyes of a sinner and allows him to see his need for the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4).
President Obama and Mitt Romney need to be saved. Christians should be praying for this instead of just waiting for the next evangelical superstar politician to rise up.
2. Pray that our president leads under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
“And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh.” Jonah 3:7 (ESV)
We do not want our president to pass laws that force adherence to any religion. This type of short-sighted approach has historically led to tyranny and corruption. Salvation is only a result of God’s grace, not a government’s legislation. However, we should pray that our president personally recognizes the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Leaders govern in accordance with what and how they worship. The United States has suffered because many of our leaders worship themselves and their particular brand of government. A president that recognizes that he rules under the authority of Jesus Christ is a blessing to those whom he governs.
3. Pray that he brings real change.
“Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.” Jonah 3:8 (ESV)
We live in a culture of evil and violence. For decades we have been living by a foreign policy that says, “If it moves, kill it.” This has resulted in not only the senseless loss of life among American military forces but foreign citizens as well.
At home, things aren’t any better. We have allowed the murder of innocent babies to become a tax payer funded industry. Is it any wonder that our cities have become war zones where children are caught in the crossfire and are sometimes even the ones doing the firing? We should pray that our next president leads us in repentance away from these kinds of evils.
4. Pray that he knows real hope.
“God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger so that we may not perish.” Jonah 3:9 (ESV)
America is not God’s chosen nation. God Bless the USA is not his favorite song. Why would we want God to bless us when we have systematically rejected his authority in virtually every aspect of our culture?
But hope is not lost.
We should pray that our president knows that real hope is not found in government. There will come a time when America is no more but the kingdom of Christ is forever. Pray that our president sees that real hope is found in Jesus Christ, the only One who can keep people from perishing.
5. Pray for God’s mercy.
God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it. Jonah 3:10 (ESV)
Every catastrophe is not God’s judgment on the victims of that catastrophe. It is dangerous for us to presume to know the exact will of God in regards to hurricanes and super storms. But we do know that God has used catastrophes as instruments of his wrath. And we do know that he promises to do so again. Is our country somehow immune to that wrath?
The fact that we have yet to feel the full force of God’s wrath is solely a result of God’s mercy. And, if we are to continue as a nation, we will need more of that mercy.
The king of Nineveh prayed that God would turn from his fierce anger.
God did turn from his anger.
But he did not turn it off.
No, when he turned his just anger away from us, God redirected it toward his Son on the cross.
And it is because of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, that the voices of Christians can be heard by a Father who cares.
No matter what happens tonight, let your voice be heard.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 (ESV)