Almost daily now, we hear news of terrorist attacks, armed robberies, murders, kidnappings and a vast assortment of other devastating tragedies all happening in our backyards. It feels like war-zone. Maybe there isn’t debris flying in the air near your home and maybe you don’t hear the cry of the victims as you walk the streets, but social media and the 10 o’clock news fill you in on all that happened in your own city as you walked through your day unaware. It feels hopeless sometimes. And if you are anything like me, you find yourself wondering how it could ever get any better.
While I’ve been struggling with all of the tragedies that have happened over the last few days, I’ve been praying about it all and asking the Lord for help. This is what He showed me:
Right in the middle of the book of Jeremiah (chapter 29), there is a remnant of weary, humiliated and displaced people who have been up-rooted from their homes and dragged to a foreign land as exiles. Jeremiah hears from the Lord and sends them a letter, explaining that they better go ahead and settle-in because they will be there a while. He tells them to plant gardens, get married, have kids and build a temporary home there because they will be there for seven more decades.
But he says something else that caught my eye as I scanned the verses: ““… seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper (Jeremiah 29:7).” Here in the midst all the heartache and mess, God gave them instructions to help them prosper: PRAY FOR THE CITY I HAVE CALLED YOU TO (Jeremiah 29:7).
We have all been called to a specific realm of influence. We are surrounded by a dying and broken world. As Christians, we are considered “foreigners and exiles, (1 Peter 2:11),” but we are called to pray for the cities where God, himself, has placed us.
As the letter continues, God reveals this beautiful promise:
11“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.[b] I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” (Jeremiah 29:11-14).
Have you prayed for your city today?