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A hundred thousand Christians gathered on Sept. 26 in Washington, D.C. Many from our area went, such as pastor Gary Williams of C-7 Church.

Believers spent the day praising God, repenting for national sins and interceding for our nation. Why was this important? Because, behind every nation's government, spiritual powers influence leaders, pulling their strings, planting ideas. Apart from God's praying people, these powers remain concealed. Evil spiritual entities are merciless. They retain control over specific territories or people unless and until the Word of God is declared and believed.

Idolatry affects all aspects of a nation. Worshiping false gods allows authority to flow from the wrong source, a diabolical entity. This sets people up for deception. There is only one true God. He is the LORD revealed in the Bible, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the God of Israel, ruler of the holy angels, the God of the prophets of the Old Testament and the apostles of the New Testament.

The Bible says this: Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord! The nations which reject God are inviting demonic entities to rule over them. With idolatry, the invisible shield over a nation goes down. The atmosphere is charged with propaganda. It becomes difficult to know the difference between truth and error, right from wrong, and the whole society becomes directionless except for pursuing self-fulfillment, fame, fortune or pleasure. This kind of national disintegration is ripe for dictatorships such as Hitler, Castro or Kim Jung Un. An evil principality lends its unholy anointing to its brutal spokesman who then rules people with fear and violence.

In the days of the Roman Empire, many pagan gods ruled regions. Rome imposed worship of the emperor over its conquered territories. They saluted with, "Caesar is Lord." Christians replied, "Jesus is Lord!" Rome ruled the world with its militaristic power and policies. In this global context, the apostle Paul gave instructions for how the church of Jesus Christ, when acting in Spirit-inspired assembly as God's governing body of priests and kings on earth, can impact rulers who keep the peace. If need be, we can overthrow wickedness seated in high places. Bad rulers must repent or be removed. The church ought to pray.

Paul's instruction specifically urges the church to pray for leaders involved in civil government, for "kings and all who are in authority" (1 Tim. 2:1-8). Peace is the goal. I'm convinced that when the church prays properly, God's holy angels stand alongside and strengthen leaders of goodwill. Plus, as churches pray for everyone, salvation spreads. Paul described several forms of prayer that can be used in this ongoing process. For those Christians who think that nothing matters except lost people going to heaven when they die, Paul said the result due to this practice of corporate prayer is "good and acceptable to God." People need salvation, but God also wants our lives on earth to be blessed and happy.

Paul says that everyone can pray effectively to achieve this if they are free of resentment or discord. Why? Hatred or offenses neutralize our spiritual authority. The power of a praying church is awesome. Of course, more souls get saved. But the economy and society are positively affected, too.

The world has not yet seen the full power of God's kingdom being released to our benefit -- if only God's people will pray! The earth is groaning to see this. Indeed, it is true that God will heal our land if the church will turn toward the Lord and do its primary work, which is to pray.

This column is taken from my book, "Emerging Apostles in the Developing Church," available at Amazon.com.

-- Ron Wood is a retired pastor and author. Contact him at [email protected] or visit www.touchedbygrace.org or follow him at touched by grace on Facebook. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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