When you look out of your window, and see sky, land, ocean, trees—or perhaps masses of houses—have you ever thought of these things as being alive?
No—I am not bringing a bit of woo-woo or hippy thinking to this article!
Instead, I am suggesting that ALL of creation bows to the glory of God. This is not my Christian take on a pantheistic belief that everything holds a bit of God inside itself, and that's who God is. I am suggesting that everything on earth responds to God's goodness, including the land.
The Bible tells us that man has a soul and that God made us in His image - we are made unique, and the rest of creation is not like this. Yet this doesn't mean that we live in a world that is empty and formless; in Romans 8, it talks about creation being subject to God;
'For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own voice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.' Romans chapter 8, verses 20–23 (NIV)
The Message calls it a 'pregnant creation' and says 'it's not only around us, it's within us.'
So if creation is alive, and has lived through many thousands and millions of years, what are the memories it holds? What are the victories and traumas it has seen?
Do you pray for your city? Or your nation?
Jesus' mandate for mankind was that we would bring His kingdom to earth, to the nations. We are to find ways to win nations, not just to individuals.
In responding to this mission of bringing kingdom, we often focus on the people, and 'the nations', meaning the groups of peoples in those places.
But what if preparing the way for more of God's kingdom to come on earth is also praying for the land these people live in and their cities?
The hearts of individuals may respond to Christ, but what if the mission of bringing the kingdom to nations is not yet fully possible, because the cities still hold the scars of their history? I'm suggesting that each village, city, country has its own living land, sea, sky - with a different history.
These natural creations have absorbed the choices of the people, and can hold the trauma of the past. And just in the way creation responds to the glory of God, I believe these lands are not dead and inactive, but alive, with the potential to be set free from any demonic strongholds or curses, borne from the spiritual activity and choices of the people.
Just as creation responds to the glory of God, the natural world also reacts to the name of Jesus and feels the presence and goodness of the Holy Spirit.
So what does this mean for your city? Is it even worth praying for your city, for the people AND the land?
All creation cannot be saved in the sense of salvation, but it can be released from the trauma of the past, from holding onto the curses put on previous generations, by agreements with spirits not of God. The people of that specific land can be released from the strongholds of that place when the Holy Spirit is invited into them.
We can walk the land, the streets, the beaches and bless the land and invite the Holy Spirit to heal the trauma of the past. We can ask God to give us insight into what is happening in the land we live in.
And so, could you learn the history of your land or city? Could the context of that place shape what you pray for the people? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what and how to pray for your city. And the things you would need to pray for that will redeem your city or community.
Because what curses the land can curse the people too - and in the same way, what frees the land, will free the people too. We want our cities (and so the people) to be blessed and operate in freedom, rather than be bound by the histories of our lands.
How will freedom be won in our world? Jesus tells us to make disciples of ALL nations. When the land works in unison with the spirit of the Lord, there is freedom, and freedom for all peoples to respond to the heart of God, and hear His voice.
The Holy Spirit has the key that will unlock the people. And so ask what those keys are!
Originally from The Lake District in the UK, Amanda works in Publishing in Auckland and is passionate about seeing Christians bring salt and light into the media, arts and creative industries. She is also working on fighting her FOMO and doing less. Amanda wrote this article from London when on holidays.
Amanda Robinson's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/amanda-robinson.html