The Prayer Series – Praying for All the Nations

The Prayer Series
  • While you can pray through any part of the Bible, some books and chapters are much easier to pray through than others. Overall, the Book of Psalms is the best place in Scripture from which to pray Scripture. Almost every aspect of man’s relation to God is depicted in these poems: simple trust, the sense of sin, appeals to a higher power in time of trouble, and the conviction that the world is in the hands of a loving God. Join us in this 4 week series as we learn how to pray more God-centered prayers and enjoy more focus in prayer.
2. Praying for All the Nations (Psalm 67)
  • Joy comes from spreading the news about God around the world.
Sermon Preparation Guide
  • Importance – What are the central ideas of the text?
  • God is a God of blessing to His own, and that blessing is to reflect Him to others. (Psalm 67:1 & 2)
  • We are to be witnesses by our lives to make God known to all. (Psalm 67:2 & 4)
  • Praise to God and joy in Him are proper responses to His activity of salvation. (Psalm 67:3 & 5)
  • Implications – What questions should the listener be asking?
  • What is your response to God's blessing in your life? Is it to keep it in or share it?
  • How are you to be a witness to others as a result of God's blessing in your life?
  • What is your response to God's activity of salvation? What do you say and do when someone you know becomes a follower of Jesus?
Talk it Over Discussion Guide
  • Interpretation – What is the text telling/showing us?
  • What does it mean for God to be gracious to us?
  • What does it mean for God to bless us? How does He do that?
  • How does God “make his face to shine upon us?”
  • What is the relationship between God's blessing us and His being made known throughout the earth?
  • Who are “the nations?”
  • What does it mean to say that God “judge[s] the peoples with equity?”
  • How can nations be glad and sing for joy? How can individuals be glad and sing for joy?
  • What is the increase the earth has yielded to us?
  • Implementation – What should the listener’s response be?
  • How has God been gracious to you? To your church?
  • How has God blessed you? Blessed your church?
  • What is the effect of God's saving power in the earth, and what do we have to do with that?
  • What is the basis for your praising God as it relates to outreach to the unsaved?
  • What have you learned about God through this Psalm? In what ways does knowing such things change you?
  • How can you pray Psalm 67?
  • Write out your own Psalm 67 prayer, and pray it every day for a week, or a month … or every day for the rest of your life!
Sermon Teaching Notes (as prepared by Pastor Dick Murphy)
  • Investigation – What’s generally going on in this area of Scripture?
In the Notes for the first study in this series, we saw that one of the reasons prayer is so awesome is that in prayer we approach the God of the universe in a personal way and express our adoration and praise for Him just for who He is and for what He has done. We saw that through looking at Psalm 145. In these Notes, we will look at a “missionary” Psalm and find we are to be praying for “all the nations,” and that praying in this way is part of accomplishing God's will on earth.

We know that prayer starts with God and is wrapped around all He is. All He is includes His will which, in turn, includes various things, not least of which is that He be glorified as He alone is worthy. Part of His being glorified is that He desires that people everyone come to know Him (II Peter 3:9) and be part of His kingdom family, so that they can adore and glorify Him. That is one reason why God is creating a people for Himself in Christ. As it says in I Peter 2:9, “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.” (emphasis added) Once in His family as a child of God, we have the privilege of praying that His will be done on earth (cf. Matthew 6:10), or, in the lesson of these Notes, that we pray for “all the nations” to come to know Him. Such is the prayer of Psalm 67 which we can use as a “template” for our own praying.

Interestingly, it helps to think about the nation Israel as we delve into Psalm 67, as the Psalm was written to and for the Jewish people, God's chosen ones. God chose Israel to be His not because the Jewish people were special in any way; He simply chose them to be His. Genesis 7:6-8 says,

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were t he fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath he swore to your fathers ...”

And God's will was that through His people, all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:2 & 3; 22:18; 26:4) as they came to know the God of Israel through His people and their obedience. So in Psalm 67 we have a prayer to God for the blessing of Israel and its people so that God may be known (Psalm 67:2), and they, too, might praise God (Psalm 67:3 & 5). Indeed, a part of God's blessing of His people is that others come to Him, and therefore, it is inherent in God's will that we pray for those others and their coming to Him. The joy that comes in praise to God in this Psalm is thus for both the Jewish people and all non-Jewish people (the nations), and it is because God is who He is and exercises His saving power to both Jew and Gentile, that is to say, to everyone!`

The central verse in this song, Psalm 67, is verse 4 which asks that “the nations” be glad and sing for joy. How can “the nations” do this? Only insofar as they have a relationship with the Almighty God, the God who judges “with equity” and who “guide[s] the nations.” Again, who are “the nations?” They are all those peoples other than the Jews, and they are the people who are to see God through Israel. In our present situation, who are “the nations?” They are all those people other than the Church, who do not know Jesus and need to see Him through us. Thus, we are to pray for those who are outside of God's family, that they will be able to praise God as verses 3 and 5 of this Psalm asks. These two verses purposely surround the request of verse 4 in the construction of this song in order to lead to and point to verse 4 and the request of God that all nations come to Him and come under His reign and rule. And in a similar way, verses 1 and 2, and verses 6 and 7, are the bookends to verses 3-5, as they begin and end with the request for the blessing God's people, which will lead to the inclusion of the nations, so that “all peoples” will come under God's reign and rule. This is God's will.

So here is the guide from this Psalm, the template, for our praying for all the nations: start with God, the One who is gracious, the One who saves, ask for His gracious blessing so that we will be enabled by His presence in us to show who He is to those who do not know Him; then ask for those who do not know Him to come to know Him and join in praise for who He is; then ask that God become known (in Jesus, through our witness) for who He is, the righteous judge of all and the powerful guide for all of life; then thank God for what He has already done in blessing us, and ask that those blessings continue on us and on all those who come to Him. This is a big-time prayer … it is for all the nations. At the same time, however, it is to be specific prayer for people we know, for communities in which we live, for neighborhoods of which we are a part, and for ourselves, that we would reflect back God to these others with whom we have contact as we are blessed by Him. So, when we ask for ourselves, it is not so much for our own benefit, though we surely benefit from God's blessing; it is that our blessing is for the benefit of others to know the great God, to praise Him, and to receive His blessing as well.

What do we learn of God in this Psalm, the knowledge of which should make us even more inclined to pray? We learn that He is approachable and gracious; He is a God of blessing and favor to His own; He is a God who desires to be known by all peoples and who makes Himself known through His people; He brings joy to those who know Him; He is the just ruler of all peoples; He provides for His own; and He is the God of salvation. Do you know this God? If you do, pray Psalm 67 as that prayer will be effective in releasing His will on earth; if you do, pray Psalm 67 as that prayer will bring blessing to you and to others and will empower your own witness; if you do, pray Psalm 67 because it will open the eyes of those who do knot know God to see Him and come into His family; if you do, pray Psalm 67 and praise Him in the midst of it.