As Christians, we all know how important prayer is. We pray mostly small, intimate prayers. Prayers about our own lives, our spouses and kids, our jobs, our finances, our own relationships and then, for the needs of those around us, our families, friends, acquaintances, co-workers.
But how many of us go outside our intimate circle and pray for those we don’t know? How many of us really take time to regularly pray for society in general or American politics, for instance. How many of us pray for our country regularly?
I’ll be honest, I don’t.
Or, at least, I haven’t until just this week when I was thinking…I wonder what God thinks about the mess we’re in today, in American politics? I can’t even imagine which way he would want it to go. What does he think when he looks down on us, in this election year. How disappointed he must be in our behavior, attitude and reactions. Is the average Christian right now praying for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton? If you’re a Democrat are you praying for Trump? If you’re a Republican are you praying for Clinton?
Jesus said to love God and love your neighbors and that all the commands and the prophets hang on these two. But shortly after that, he said pray for those who persecute you. Many of us feel that it has come to that in politics. That the other side is ‘persecuting’ us.
If your candidate doesn’t get in, what are you going to do for the next four year? Complain, point the finger, sling insults and say see I told you so? Is that what we’re called to as Christians? Or are you going to pray for those who persecute you? We are all in this together. It’s still my country, it’s still your country, either way. No matter who gets in. We’re still all on the same side, we are still all Americans. The office of the presidency should be respected no matter who is occupying it. Whoever gets in will represent our country and if the ‘wrong’ person gets in, in your opinion, even more reason to pray for them.
Non- believers will say “Oh, pray, pray, pray, you’re going to sit in your little prayer huddles and pray and you think that does something – Well, it doesn’t ” and you know, I understand that viewpoint. Three years ago that was my viewpoint – quit wasting your time praying and Do something. Well I think the ideal lies, as it usually does, somewhere in between.
To just sit and pray is not enough and to do, do, do, without prayer and asking for God’s guidance is not enough either. So if the ‘wrong’ person gets in, we really, more than ever, need pray and then to mobilize and do something. We need to motivate even more so if our guy or gal didn’t get in. Pray, yes. But maybe spend some of the time that we use spouting off on social media to write our congressman about a specific issue that hits close to home. Or contact your party’s local chapter to see what they recommend you do to help and to show your support. It seems like posting on social media satisfies the need to make our voices heard without following it up with any action. There is a false sense of accomplishment.
The concept of praying for your opponents applies in other areas of our lives as well. Are feminists praying for sexists, are the more tolerant praying for the more bigoted, are cops praying for criminals, are those who love praying for those who hate? Are liberals and conservatives praying for each other? Or are we all just hating whoever doesn’t agree with us?
We are not going to change another person’s heart by insisting that they see things our way. Only truth spoken in love can change someone’s heart. We need to stop trying to force our will onto other people. No matter how right you are or how right you think you are, you’re not going to change someone else by spewing hatred, by demanding that they’re wrong and you’re right. Only love is going to change someone’s heart. and it’s not simply love that we possess that can do it. It’s tapping into the power of God’s love that changes hearts and minds.
God uses us to communicate His love. His power is in us. And the best way to tap into the power of God’s love is through prayer.
If you want to change hearts and minds, ask God, in prayer, to help you speak His truth, in love.
Do you believe that prayer can benefit our political system and society at large?