Most election seasons, I eventually come back to the twenty-ninth chapter of Jeremiah. As always, context is the key to unlocking a powerful passage. In the book of Jeremiah is a letter he sent through diplomatic channels to people living very much in exile in Babylon. (This was the empire ruling over Israel after they’d conquered Jerusalem and relocated so many of the Jewish people, now heartbroken and homesick.)
In this section we find familiar words and a favorite verse of many about the plans God has for you. But read the whole correspondence for its fullest effect. And remember the context.
This is a message for any who feel lost and disconnected from the time in which they live. For me, it is often a touchpoint at election time—no matter who wins or what issues rule the day (and for the record, I’m writing this on October 30 before any announcements have been made).
So, what does Jeremiah say to a nation torn apart and to people living far from the future they’d imagined? He tells them the truth and gives them an unexpected assignment: Build your homes, plant gardens, and raise your families. In other words, live your lives now—don’t wait. And then this:
Pray. Pursue peace.
Where these first recipients of this letter lived was not their own choice. They were decidedly unhappy with their current situation and must have felt quite powerless. Jeremiah told them to never forget who’s in charge and whose plan is unfolding. Never forget who is really in control.
In the meantime, live your life right now knowing God is in charge. And keep pursuing and praying for peace. Now. Not later.
It’s a question worth asking: Do we pray for the shalom of the city in which we live?
Or do we passively wait for things to change for the better or perhaps do we just wait for others to make things better? Remember, shalom is not only the absence of conflict but that blessed wholeness, the broken put back together.
Whether you’re reading this during a national election season, after the next breaking news hits, or it’s just a regular ol’ Thursday afternoon, these are timeless truths. Let us not wait to live the life God has for us right now. And yes, that will include praying and pursuing peace right now, right here, where God has us.
So, what does it sound like to pray for the peace, the welfare, the blessed wholeness, of the city where you’re currently living?
5 Ways to Pray for Your City:
God, you are Alpha and Omega. The beginning, the end, and everything in between. I admit that sometimes I forget that. Help me in this moment to put my trust in you, Sovereign LORD. Your love is steadfast and your mercies are new each day. Today I will focus again and again on your faithfulness. You are not finished with me or this world. Show me where to join you in what you’re already doing. I want to be a part of the solution. Amen.
Lord, I boldly pray and ask for your peace, your shalom. In a world that feels like it’s falling apart, show us your way in the midst of the brokenness. Bring hope to what others thought hopeless. In my city, I ask that you bridge divides. Bring feuding neighbors together. In my own life, I ask that you heal broken relationships. As the Body of Christ, make us one, united in you God. Amen.
Creator God, I pray for the flourishing of my city. You are the one who breathed all life into existence. Do it again, please. In the face of adversity, create new opportunities for local businesses. Spark creativity in the middle of a challenge. Bring unlikely partners together for the beginning of something new for your glory. Breathe life into tattered neighborhoods. Amen.
God, I pray for the leaders in my city. Those in government, law enforcement, education, churches, healthcare, and businesses. I pray for their health and protection. Put people on their path that will offer wise counsel and encouragement. These leaders carry a lot of responsibility and I pray that they would not grow weary under the weight.
Jesus, open our hearts. Give us ears to hear and eyes to see what your will is for our city. Help us to be a community that encourages one another. You sent us into this world with your message of grace. This week, may I love others as I have been loved. May we who follow you get the attention of others by how we love each other. Amen.