Soul of the Citizen: Prayers For A Divided Nation
by Mischa Field
Genre: Christian Nonfiction
Soul of the Citizen: Prayers for a Divided Nation, by Mischa Field, is the cry of a burdened heart refusing to give up on neighbor or neighborhood or nation. It is a collection of prayers for leaders and followers, for parents and children, for shepherds and flocks, and for you and your enemy.
A biblical scribe for modern times, Field offers the reader a word of hope and a call to action. This book is for anyone looking to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God in a time drowning in accusation and ambiguity.
If you long to protect your peace in times of conflict, this book is for you.
If you long to live ethically and authentically in times of struggle, this book is for you.
If you are moved to pray that God would do a new thing in the life of this nation, this book is for you.
Introduction: A Call to Prayer
The prayers in this book come as a response to a year like no other.
We have experienced a global pandemic that, as of November 2, 2021, has taken over 5 million lives, more than 767,000 in this nation alone. We have 4 percent of the world’s population, but 19 percent of its coronavirus cases, and 15 percent of its deaths. Conditions are improving in some places but surging in others, and each round of relaxed standards leads to predictable spikes. The disease continues to take a staggering toll. 1 And things may get worse before they get better.
We have seen a cry for justice triggered by the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, among others. And things may get worse before they get better.
We have endured a bitterly contentious election season. And now we find ourselves embroiled in a unique moment in American history. On January 6, 2021, as Congress convened to certify the results of the 2020 election, hundreds rioted in the nation’s capital. They broke windows, damaged property, occupied the House and Senate chambers and congressional offices, and erected a noose, chanting for the assassination of, among others, Vice President Mike Pence. Some used flagpoles as weapons and beat police officers. Others, armed with flex cuffs, appeared to have been prepared to take hostages. 2 Court filings suggest people “came prepared with weapons, gas masks, ballistic vests, and zip ties.” 3 More than six hundred people have been charged with crimes, with at least sixty pleading guilty. 4 The riot resulted in five deaths and the injury of over 140 Capitol Police, and an unknown number of rioters. 5
The details of that day continue to emerge. Congressional hearings have begun, and more will come. Clearly, however, we have reached a new boiling point in this simmering crisis of the past thirteen, sixty, 160, and 400 years. We are the United States, but a divided people. And as we shout across dividing lines, we indict the darkness in our hearts.
We critique corrupt politicians and a divisive media, and perhaps we should. We rail against broken institutions and predatory organizations, and possibly we are right. We demand consequences for those who would subvert democracy, and surely, we must. But each of these people and groups is only stirring a darkness already within us. The forces of evil seek to awaken the evil in us.
Many have spoken, over the last few years, of a fight for the soul of the nation. And that fight begins in 330 million individual hearts. It grows in 330 million purpose-filled lives, each with the capacity to serve the greater good or stir far greater harm.
The soul is the seat of the mind, the will, and the emotions.
We must fight for the soul of the citizen.
The Cornell Law Dictionary defines a citizen as “a person who, by place of birth, nationality of one or both parents, or naturalization is granted full rights and responsibilities as a member of a nation or political community.” 6
We often talk in this era about citizenship: who has it, who should get the opportunity to obtain it, and the rights and responsibilities that it affords. We talk about free speech and paying taxes. We talk about obeying laws. We talk less about the heart conditions that drive our conduct, the mindsets, decisions, and feelings that move us.
We talk about free will but not goodwill. We talk about being great, but not the greater good. We talk about the danger around us, but not the danger within. As praying people, we must contend with all of it.
That is the burden God gave me, in earnest, three years ago, to pray that the cultural, political, and ultimately spiritual war that has enveloped this nation does not devour its people. The prayers in this book reflect a type of spiritual diary. They emerged from specific moments, inspired by specific events while meditating on specific Scripture, but they speak to the life of the soul. They speak through the help of the Holy Spirit. As such, their meaning for you might be different than it was for me. I invite you to explore them as you see fit, whether you pray one prayer a day or the same prayer for eighty days. I don’t know what God has for you. I do know that he has you reading these words for a reason, so I welcome you to the process of discovering it. As we pray concerning leadership, service, vision, justice, ethics, faith, and the condition of our souls, we are praying for people. One by one. Mind by mind. Heart by heart.
Please join me in this fight. Let us pray together.
1 Worldometers.info, “‘Reported Cases and Deaths by Country or Territory,” Worldometer, November 2, 2021, https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries.
2 Martin Pengelly, “’Hang Mike Pence’: Twitter Stops Phrase Trending after Capitol Riot,” The Guardian (Guardian News and Media, January 10, 2021), https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jan/10/hang-mike-pence-twitter-stops-phrase-trending-capitol-breach.
3 Brad Heath, Sarah N. Lynch, and Jan Wolfe, “Judge Calls Capitol Siege ‘Violent Insurrection,’ Orders Man Who Wore Horns Held,” Reuters (Thomson Reuters, January 15, 2021), https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-capitol-arrests/judge-calls-capitol-siege-violent-insurrection-orders-man-who-wore-horns-held-idUSKBN29K0K7
4 Vanessa Romo, “6 More People Connected to the Capitol RIOT Plead Guilty,” NPR (NPR, September 11, 2021), https://www.npr.org/2021/09/10/1036149342/6-more-people-connected-to-the-capitol-riot-plead-guilty.
5 Tom Jackman, “Police Union Says 140 Officers Injured in Capitol Riot,” The Washington Post (WP Company, January 28, 2021), https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/police-union-says-140-officers-injured-in-capitol-riot/2021/01/27/60743642-60e2-11eb-9430-e7c77b5b0297_story.html.
A graduate of Amherst College and Alliance Theological Seminary, with degrees in film, writing, and urban ministry, and a background in journalism, he finds consistent joy in the mysteries of faith, consistent humility in attempting to practice them, and constant wonder in God’s ability to accomplish perfect things with perfect combinations of imperfect people.
A native of Brattleboro, Vermont, he lives in Queens with Lori, his wife of 15 years. Soul of the Citizen is his first book.
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