Our American readers have had quite a time in 2020. (Actually, everyone on the planet has had quite a time in 2020, but arguably Americans have had an unusually bad time.) At the time of this writing, New York City has been transformed into a shell of itself; Portland is in its third month of nightly violence that has gutted what it once was; statues of all sorts of historic figures—not only Confederate generals, but also many others including a statue of Jesus Christ (in Florida) and Hans Christian Heg (a Wisconsin abolitionist who died fighting for the Union)—have been torn down. The unemployment rate is over 10%, and many small businesses have folded. Our schools are in complete disarray over COVID-19, and in some states churches are suing in order to be able to hold worship services. I could go on, but if you are an American, you already know the rest.

It sure seems like it’s time to put the USA on your personal prayer roll. In fact, we hope you already have. But what we’d like to ask our readers is, What, precisely, are you praying for your nation? What are you thinking is the most important blessing God could offer the USA now? What role do we play in trying to help our nation? How do we help its renewal?

To get you started, here’s an essay penned by Daniel J. Mahoney that might get your thoughts rolling: https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2020/07/02/

Full Citation for this Article: Editorial Board, SquareTwo Journal (2020) "Readers’ Puzzle Summer 2020: When You Pray, What Do You Pray for Our Nation?," SquareTwo, Vol. 13 No. 2 (Summer 2020), http://squaretwo.org/Sq2ArticleCasslerOaksBallardDew.html, accessed <give access date>.

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COMMENTS: 7 Comments

I. Michelle Brignone

I pray reason will prevail. I pray for sound scientific research, discovery, and solutions. I pray for God’s will to be done. I pray for a return to kindness, civility, and compassion. I pray for tolerance, peace, and love. But most of all, I pray that people’s hearts and minds will be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, that we may each remember our divine worth and the divine worth of others and that the knowledge of our shared divine worth will influence our thoughts and actions.


II. Stephen Cranney

My initial response would be peace among this country's different political and social factions, but on closer introspection I think we're already there. People tend to be vituperative towards hypothetical social enemies from far away, whether it's in the caricatured overweight MAGA-hat wearing white person with an assault rifle or caricatured black person with a bandana around their face lighting cars on fire. But when flesh-and-blood people go to the post office, the school, or the DMV and confront the "face of the other" people are more gracious and understanding of the "others" than they have ever been. That isn't to say that "all is well," but powerful forces have an interest in portraying a nation on fire or atypically contentious, when the reality is anything but, and if anything the nation should be endowed with more thankfulness for what we do have and how far we've gone.


III. Nkoyo Iyamba

Thanksgiving and Christmas reminds us all to be grateful for what we have. President Nelson’s message of gratitude is not only universal but it’s ubiquitous and can be used all year long. And the New Year ) gives us opportunities to DO and BE better people. If we ask God to help the country, the world, etc., what are WE doing individually to help Him. “Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven” right? So what are we willing to sacrifice to help make our world a better place? October General Conference is full of ideas and suggestions from our leaders.


IV. Ralph Hancock

I pray for a recovery of civic friendship. I pray for the recovery in the confidence in the basic goodness of our country, its institutions and traditions as well as its aspirations, that is a necessary conditoin civic friendship. I pray for the leadership of responsible elites who can see beyond their own interests and their own vanities in order to plumb the depths of the concerns of Americans of all races, creeds and philosophical dispositions. I pray that we may at last grasp the simple and necessary truth that it is impossible to make a good country without making good people, and that institutions with beneficent authority such as families, churches, and schools are essential to forming the good character without which justice and progress are impossible.


V. Rachel Zirkle

I pray for the leaders in charge of our nation that they may be inspired to make wise decisions. Several years ago, while talking with a friend, she shared how abhorrent it is to pray for a leader you don’t agree with. I’ve reflected on that exchange and feel like it’s not a departure of personal morals to live Matthew 5:44, to “love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” With hate and divisiveness washing over America, it is critical that we pray for others, even—and perhaps especially--- if they seem in opposition to us, in order to see others as something more than “other.” Prayer softens our heart in this time of constant hardening, when contention hardens our hearts until our hearts will eventually fail us (D&C 45:26). God’s love and peace cannot be felt if we’re stuck in the vice-like grip of anger. So I pray that hearts will be softened across the country.

Over this past year I have also begun to pray for eyes to see---to see God’s goodness during trying times, to see hands I can lift up, to see ways to be part of His work, to see miracles. I pray Heavenly Father can help me see the purpose of these times and help me have the ability to rise to the occasion. Daily repentance plays a significant role in achieving this. I believe by softening my own heart and working to see how Heavenly Father does, I am better able to love others around me. I think it is going to be an individual, family, community, effort of loving and including to help our nation heal.


VI. Ashley Alley

Our nation is broken because an alarming and constantly increasing number of us are unable to view others with compassion and respect. Political divisions and differing opinions have become full-fledged battlegrounds that are claiming thousands of casualties in the form of relationships among peers, family members, and friends. What I have found myself praying for is our hearts to be softened and our eyes and ears to be opened. I want us as a nation to be capable of truly mourning with those that mourn and seek to lift each others' burdens, whatever forms they may take. I want our hearts to soften as we truly see and hear the experiences of others, especially those whose experiences are most different from our own. I pray that our eyes and ears will be opened in a way that we will be better able to distinguish truth from falsehoods and misrepresentations. I pray that we each will feel a desire to increase our capacity to love one another and that this desire will lead to action on our part.


VII. V.H. Cassler

I find myself praying for our nation every day now. While I pray for healing, forgiveness, and compassion to cover our land, I also get the distinct feeling that our divisions will grow, as they always did in Book of Mormon times. I end up praying as Nephi, brother of Lehi did—that there be something that brings us back to a sense of reality from which comes a softening of the heart and a desire to walk in better paths. I try not to think what that may involve, but rather just hope the Lord will prevail. I feel to pray for President Russell M. Nelson, also, that he may be inspired to guide well the ship of Zion through the coming storms, which look to be fierce.