November 3, 2008
Lord, Have Mercy
A dispatch from Lisa, who is currently holed up in an undisclosed location.
I know we're all sick of political commercials; signs in yards with names and positions in big red, white and blue letters; phone calls and junk mail from candidates; newspaper and magazine articles on the candidates' past sins, present mistakes and whereabouts, and future vacation plans; the latest political poll; and so on. So I'll keep this short.
Conversations with friends and Paul's words about praying for leaders in 1 Timothy 2, as well as wise commentary from N. T. Wright on that same passage, have reminded me, in the midst of all the hullabaloo, that we're called to pray for our leaders. So, whether or not you voted early at the mall, are going to vote on Tuesday and ask for extra stickers to wear throughout the day so that everyone will know you voted, or aren't going to vote at all and didn't even know there was a presidential election this year--start praying.
I admit, it feels like such a small thing to do for an election that will affect nearly every other country in the world. Voting sometimes feels that way. (As a friend recently expressed, in a broken system can my one vote really make any practical difference for people in need? Will broken, sinful people in power really act out of the best interests of others?) But prayer can feel even a step further removed from Washington, D.C., than voting: If I throw up this prayer for our leaders, will God really hear? Will my prayers for our president and other leaders really bring about change in them, in this country?
Many days, if I'm honest, it doesn't feel like a prayer will affect national and global affairs. But as I talked with friends about the election, it struck me what a dangerous position president of the United States is: in our post-Fall world, few men or women can handle that much power and not fall into sin or greed as a result. So even when we feel like our prayers won't make a difference, I'm convinced we must pray for our leaders.
We're commanded to, for one thing. And prayer moves our focus away from the little power we have to the power of the One we pray to: the only true God, the only all-powerful One who really does hold the kingdoms of the world in his hands. If Paul can exhort others to pray for their leaders while imprisoned by members of his own government, surely we can put his words into action.
Here a few suggestions for prayers you can pray for our leaders, whoever they are:
* Pray for grace to handle the power of their position and wisdom to use that power for the best interests of others, particularly the poor and oppressed.
* Pray for the wisdom and humility to surround themselves with wise people who will help them handle the power.
* Pray that they will be good listeners.
* Pray for their family life.
* Pray for a heart that is compassionate, that longs to see justice done.
* Pray for godly vision.
* Pray for protection from those who would harm them and their families, whether physically or emotionally.
Who knows? As we pray, God may move and empower us to act in some of these areas, to make a difference not for our country or our glory, but for his kingdom and glory.