Good and gracious God, you have given us the privilege and the responsibility of living in the most resourceful land in the world. From sea to shining sea most of us enjoy unparalleled freedom, comfortable homes, nutritious meals, preferred vocations and unique religious liberty.

Even as we count the many wonderful blessings we share by living in this great land, we also sense that we live in times of heightened concern and anxiety. Our nation is engaged in a multi-national military conflict. Our economy is struggling. And we are approaching a crucial election wherein we will choose our next president.

These concerns remind us of our need to confess our sins, personally and collectively, and to embrace your plan for living life with purpose and integrity.

We confess that we have too often taken our freedom for granted, and we have too frequently been negligent in our citizenship.

We confess that at times we are too quick to criticize naively and too slow to intercede prayerfully.

We confess that our self-interests have too often taken priority over the best interest you have in mind for our nation and for our world.

We confess that we have been irresponsible in our stewardship of health and wealth, often consuming and storing compulsively without conscious regard for sharing generously and investing wisely.

We confess that we have too often trusted in our own initiatives and ingenuity more than we have trusted in you.

You tell us in time-tested Scripture that, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (II Chronicles 7:14)

Therefore, as we prepare to celebrate this Independence Day, we ask you to forgive our sin and heal our land.

On this day, we pray for the leaders of our nation, our state, and our community that they will lead with wisdom and discernment.

We pray for our upcoming election that we will cast our votes with conviction, and that we will choose leaders who will guide our nation with moral and ethical courage.

We pray for the men and women who serve in our nation’s military that they will fulfill their mission safely and return home soon.

We pray for our enemies that their swords, as well as ours, will be “turned into plowshares.”

We pray for the churches, cathedrals, and temples of our nation and our community that we will be lighthouses of grace and mercy, ever pressing toward the mark of our high calling.

Because you are the freedom-loving and grace-giving God, lead us to exercise our freedom responsibly and to pursue “liberty and justice for all” of your children around the globe.

We pray in the strong name of the One who came to set us free. Amen.

Barry Howard is senior minister of First Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla.

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