Praying for (Rather Than Complaining about) the U.S. Election
- Friday, October 31, 2008
"'We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.' All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the LORD." 2 Chronicles 20:12-13
These verses of scripture come from a time when God's people were facing a vast army from several nations that seemed unstoppable in human terms. There, one of the few kings who sought the Lord in that day stood before God and his people to encourage them to pray for help. They did, and God heard them.
The situation in the United States, as trying as it is, pales in comparison to that situation and, at least from a physical standpoint, to many situations around the world. The poverty and persecution that are common in many countries is still farther from most of us than they are to many. But this passage of Scripture is one of many powerful reminders that God can do what seems impossible when his people cry out to him.
Over the past few months I've seen and heard a number of fellow Christians complain loudly about many things to do with the election: the positions of the candidates (both of them) on various important issues, the coverage (or non-coverage) of the media, the concerns about voter fraud, and the easy passes one side seems to get from the press. Many of these points are well taken, but the question I’m asking is: what good does the griping do? And is our murmuring accomplishing anything but briefly making us feel better while leaving our souls in a bad state, with much-needed prayers going unsaid?
I'd like to suggest another course in the few days we have between now and the election: let's repent of our complaining, and set aside time - good time - to pray, even fast, for the election and the next president. Our pastor has asked members of our church who are able to fast and pray this week to do so, including this Sunday when we will have an evening prayer service. With so much at stake in this election I believe it to be a wise suggestion.
The principle of God's people praying for the welfare of the governments over them stretches from the Old Testament to the New. In Jeremiah 29:7, God told the Israelites to pray for the pagan nation that conquered their own, Babylon, where they were now captive exiles: "Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper." This passage is critical, because it shows that, a) God wants his people to pray for the nation where they are because, b) he knows that their welfare is tied to the welfare of that nation. In the New Testament, Paul's command to pray for "kings and all who are in authority" – including, at that time, the Roman Emperor – is consistent with this same principle (1 Timothy 2:2).
These commands presume that God holds the nations in his hands. In fact, he does:
...He gives nations to those whom he wills (Isaiah 41:2) ... "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord" (Proverbs 21) ... Nations who think they can escape God's control are foolish (Psalms 2) ... He reigns over all of them (Psalms 99:2) (including our own, whether our country acknowledges that or not) ... At the end of time all the nations will worship him (Revelation 15:4) ... If a sparrow cannot fall apart from our Father's will, then neither can countries (Matthew 10:29) ... He has "determined the times set for them" (Acts 17:26).
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