Christians and Jews find it easy to read the Psalms to find assurance of God’s love and protection for them as individuals. But we also need to see how the Eternal Son of God reigns as King among the nations. "You are the hope of all the ends of the earth" (Psalm 65:5). "His eyes keep watch on the nations" (Psalm 66:7).
In our day we think of missions in terms of personal evangelism "that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among the nations" (Psalm 67:2). But before we bring good news to them there are in every nation those who recognize the reign of the Kingdom of Heaven. "Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth; sing praises to the Lord (Psalm 68:32). When faced with oppression and injustice, people know instinctively that there is a final court of appeal. "Rise up, O God, judge the earth; for all the nations belong to you" (Psalm 82:8). "He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth" (Psalm 96:13).
Similarly in the prophets we read that "From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise, of glory to the Righteous One" (Isaiah 24:16). "From the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations" (Malachi 1:11).
Evidently God has a purpose, not just for individuals, but also for nations. "When the Most High apportioned the nations, when he divided humankind, he fixed the boundaries of the people" (Deuteronomy 32:8). As Paul explained to the philosophers of Athens, this means that nations have a purpose in the plan of God. "From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him - though indeed he is not far from each one of us" (Acts 17:26-27). There is nothing wrong with a sense of national pride, as long as we realize that God also has a good purpose for every other tribe and nation.
How will this influence our prayer life? On the one hand we have a sense of personal identity. We know we can leave in God’s loving hands our own concerns, and the needs of our family. But people everywhere also care about the nation in which they were born or have come to live. That is why we need to bring the safety and prosperity of our nation to God to intervene. As Paul wrote to his assistant, "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity" (1 Timothy 2:1,2).
In a democracy this comes into focus as we prepare for an election. But it is not just the choice of candidates that is important, but every aspect of our nation in the plan of God. And if we can extend our prayers to the government of other nations, the King of kings and Lord of lords hears and cares far more than we can ever imagine.