Not of this World

I just returned from a community prayer gathering in honor of the National Day of Prayer. What a sweet time of intercession it was. I’ve been to many such events in the past, but this was the best attended, and I believe the most fervent. All chairs were occupied, with many others standing under the pavilion. Ten pastors from evangelical churches across the basin led in prayer for the nation, for military, for education, for families, for law enforcement, and more. Then, I was asked to conclude with a final prayer. Here’s the Scripture I read, along with my prayer…

In 1 Peter 2:9-12, the Apostle Peter wrote these words to the believers scattered as exiles across Asia Minor, and to us today:

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”

Dear Father, these verses are a reminder that we are in the world, but not of the world. Some of us here have stickers emblazoned on our car, “NOTW” – Not of This World. But if we were honest, all too often, we think, and speak, and act, as if this world were our home.

Forgive us, Lord, for growing too comfortable in this place. Cleanse our hearts from the complacency, from the distractions, from the mirage of hopes and dreams we placed in this passing world.

O God, we confess that we have laid up too many treasures on earth rather than treasures in heaven. We have concerned ourselves more with our bank accounts than our heavenly inheritance. More with our physical health than our spiritual well-being.

As the culture rapidly changes, perhaps never before have we felt so out of place. We are like fish out of water. Finally, it’s beginning to sink in that we are Not of This World.

We thank you that from the moment we first trusted in Christ, our citizenship was transferred out of this domain of darkness and into the kingdom of your beloved Son. Heaven is our true home, and here in this land, we are just “passing through.”

We thank you for our adoption as sons and daughters, and recognize that we have far more in common with a Christian in Kenya, a Christian in Korea, a Christian in Khazakstan, than we do with an American who lives next door and spurns the name of Christ.

We know you have left us here for a short time, and we feel the same tension of the Apostle Paul, who said, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain…I am hard pressed in both directions.”

Thank you for this Town of Yucca Valley and the other communities of the Morongo Basin. We lift up to you our federal government, our state government, and our local government. We pray for our non-profit organizations like the Hi Desert Pregnancy Clinic and the Way Station.

And so, Lord, as long as you keep us here on earth, we will pray, and we will work, and we will serve. We will seek to be righteous, respectful, and upstanding citizens in our community, rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.