What do we mean when we say, 'God bless America'?
Every president to walk through the hallowed halls of our White House has invoked this blessing at one time or another. Sports stars and rock stars, baseball hall-of-famers and Grammy Award winners have all used this saying in their speeches. John Q. American has uttered it from a place of heart-felt angst; Jack P. Politician has stuttered over 'God' in that phrase but struggled his way through for sake of constituents. Sadly, this phrase is now becoming anathema strictly due to Jack P. Politician's inability to pronounce those three little letters without offending someone. John Q. is told he can no longer utter those letters for the same reason.
I used to think there were two ways a Christian could look at this phrase. One, say it and hope against hope that the Lord would actually continue to bless a country that is rapidly turning away from Him. Or two, refrain from saying it at all, because how can one condone all that is occurring by asking for a blessing in light of it? Now I take a different tack - undoubtedly the one that I should have taken all along.
These days, I do speak that nearly-forbidden phrase. I utter it in prayer, say it in agreement when others shout it out, and honor those words in my heart when I hear them. But what do I mean by these words? Namely this: I do not use this insta-prayer to invoke promises for an ever-increasing country at the top of the monetary food chain. I do not say these words in hopes of promise for better country-wide commerce, lower oil prices, or a permanent position as the #1 world power. These things are fleeting and if we as a country truly do turn away from the Lord, I would not wish us in a prominent position for all the money in the world. Just as Israel was to be a light unto the nations to point them to Yahweh, America has largely been that light for the last couple hundred years in pointing people to Jesus Christ. If that is no longer our function, then we no longer deserve to be in a place of prominence.
So what do I mean when I utter those words? I say them in a prayerful attitude of seeking the greatest blessing the Lord could ever bestow upon this nation - that the masses within these shores would come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and thus obtain salvation for all eternity. My heart cries out for my beautiful country, this land that I love, in much the same way it cries out for the many nations which inhabit this planet. In the same way I desire the lost of Albania and Morocco and Lithuania be found, so I desire my own country to receive that blessing.
Instead of cringing with doubt as to whether He will bless this country, I say those three words with all urgency and desire knowing that it is His desire to bless this country because He does not want any to perish! He wants every constituent in every county to come to a saving knowledge of what He has done for them. He does, indeed, want to bless America. - with the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ! And so, I shout it out in form of prayer and plea - God, PLEASE, PLEASE, bless America! And while I'm at it, I'll add Morocco and Lithuania and Saudi Arabia and Croatia and every other people group on this planet. Instead of a trite saying, it is now my constant prayer: God, bless America... bless America with the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. And every other nation too.