In this passage, Jeremiah was writing to a people who had just been exiled to Babylon. Many of them were scared and discouraged. Perhaps some of them even wanted to rebel against their captors. But God told them this,
Pursue the well-being (Hebrew: “Shalom,” meaning among other things “peace”, “prosperity,” “safety,” and “health”) of the city I have deported you to. Pray to the LORD on its behalf, for when it thrives, you will thrive. (7)
God tells us to do the same thing. In fact, perhaps Paul was thinking of this passage when he wrote these words to Timothy.
First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (I TImothy 2:1-4)
In these often scary and discouraging times, let us take the words of Jeremiah and Paul to heart. Pray to the Lord for our cities. There are a lot of hurting people out there.
Pursue our cities’ well-being. Part of that means social distancing, which is why we’re not meeting on Sundays. But at the same time, pursue individual people’s well-being. Touch the people you know, both inside and outside the church. Call them. Encourage them. Pray for them. In whatever way you can, try to meet their needs.
And pray for our leaders. I often read criticism of our leaders as they make decisions for our countries. But let me ask you something: are you obeying Paul’s words? Are you praying for your leaders? Or are you merely complaining about them, to God and to anyone else who will listen?
Don’t complain about them. Pray for them.
And let us pray that through all this Corona craziness that people will be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.