Trussville is a city that I have grown to love, as I’m sure you have, too. I love that Trussville is place where people know and care for their neighbors. I love that in this city, my kids can walk to the library or the ballfields. I love the schools that we are blessed with, and that there is such a wonderful spirit of community here. Trussville is the place where God has planted my family, and we are thankful. Yet as much as we love this city, we are also reminded in the Word of God that we are to continue to pray for her welfare.
What does it mean to pray for the welfare of our city? I’ve wrestled with that very question as I read through Jeremiah 29. It is a letter in which God instructs his people, through the prophet Jeremiah, the pray for the city where He has sent them into exile.
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. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 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.”
But what does this mean for us? We’ve not been taken away from our homeland by a foreign king. No, but if we are in Christ, we are exiles in a foreign land. Our citizenship is not here.
Evidently though, God is concerned about the welfare of cities...in our case, Trussville...and he commands us to pray for them. How do we do so? I believe the Scripture tells us to pray for the reign of the King in at least 2 areas.
The first is that we must pray for the rightful King to impact and transform human hearts. As we pray for Trussville, we first pray for the people of Trussville, because the gospel first transforms people, then places. Our city has many wonderful churches, which are doing the work of the Lord, proclaiming the gospel and serving the people. Yet even in our city, there are many people not in church. These are people with eternal souls, who sadly, by their lack of affiliation with a Bible believing church, display no evidence of the fruit of a transformed heart. First and foremost, our call to prayer is a call to pray for the souls of the people. We must pray that people would respond to the call of Jesus when he said in Mark 1:15, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
In those prayers for people, transformation is the key. So often, we think that to be a Christian is to be a better person. In fact, to be a Christian is not to be a better person, but to be a different person. It is to be a new creation. In 2 Cor 5:17 we read, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” We must pray for this radical change to take place in the hearts of people. With this change comes the fruit of a transformed life, which is the mark of a true follower of Christ. It is then transformed lives that transforms cites...large and small.
As people come to faith in Jesus Christ and are transformed by the gospel, they are transformed into better citizens. Scripture calls us to submit to the governing authorities, understanding that those in a position of authority ultimately receive their authority from the Lord. Scripture also tells us that our mandate to create and to have dominion (Gen 1:27-28, 2:15) is a reflection of the very nature and image of God. So, a Christian growing in the likeness of Christ should understand that their call to work is a call to glorify God. This makes for a more productive citizen. All of these prayers for people then are also prayers for our city.
Secondly though, we must pray for the rightful king to impact all institutions in our city (1 Tim 2:1-2). As the leaders go, so goes the people. This prayer, in many ways, is the same as the first. Though as we pray for the leaders, we not only pray for their souls, but we also pray for their leadership. Our call to pray for the welfare of our city must include prayer for our city government and elected officials, for our schools, for the coaches who have such an impact on our children, and yes...for the welfare of our businesses.
As we consider this call by the Lord to pray for the city in which he has planted us, let us also consider a warning from the Lord issued through the prophet Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 22:30, the Lord tells us, “And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none.” Let it not be said of us that the Lord God could not find a man to stand in the breach and intercede on behalf of the land. Won’t you join us in prayer?