My stomach has been in knots the last few months. I’ve been nervous for our nation – a nation I love. I’ve been bombarded with blogs, tweets and the opinions of others about national politics. The culture of politics – and our nation – these days is so tense, so bitter, so divisive.
Chances are you’ve been nervous too – or certainly you’ve been distracted by the news of the day. Whether you watch the debates, read the blogs, or follow Fox News or CNN, this is certainly a year where everyone seems to be involved, at some level, in the election process.
And, so my life is much like yours. Consumed. Concerned. Captivated. How many times will we hear or say between now and November – “I can’t wait until this election is over”?
The more I studied the process and the candidates the more frustrated I became. Frustrated with their stands on issues which matter to me most. Frustrated with how they respond to one another. Frustrated with what seems to be a climate in our nation more towards bickering and bantering against others than pulling together for the good of a nation.
One of the most frequent questions I receive these days is not about some obscure Biblical passage, but for whom I’m going to vote for president.
And, honestly, I don’t know. Never in my life have I been more confused – and I’ve voted in every election since I was eligible to vote.
It’s been an interesting wrestling match. I know I still need to vote. Frankly, I choose to vote as my right and I’m thankful for it – and for those who have paid the ultimate price for my freedom to do so – and I will vote as responsibly as I know how. But, honestly I’m not sure what even that choice will be at this point. (Russell Moore has an interesting perspective in THIS POST.)
But, it was in the state of confusion the other day – actually during a time of intentional prayer, it occurred to me –
I was spending more time being disappointed in our election choices than I was praying for the kings of our nations.
“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.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
It was in this sobering moment I was reminded my role, as a believer, is different than a regular citizen. In addition to my responsibility to vote – I have a higher authority – a higher calling. I’m called, first and foremost, to pray for my earthly authorities – regardless of who is in authority.
And, as I reflected on my thoughts towards the two front runners in the presidential race, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, I certainly hadn’t spent much time – okay any time, at this point – praying for them. Neither of them is currently holding an office, but they certainly could be. They surely are leading (and dividing) public opinions.
I’m praying for my son’s future spouse who is not yet married. Shouldn’t I be praying for the future leader of our nation?
I’m called to pray, even when worry seems to be a better option.
And, so I was convicted. I would never lead or teach our church to live this way. Turning to worry more than prayer? Never!
My role, as a follower of Christ, is first and foremost to trust and obey. To pray. Yes, I should use my influence to encourage moral value in our country. But, the reality is this world is not our home. America is not the answer to world peace. Finding a king is not the chief goal of a disciple of Jesus.
And, in further reflection, I found myself asking bigger questions. Questions such as:
- Do I believe God can still heal our land?
- Do I believe God can unify people who are so far apart ideologically?
- Do I believe He can still radically change a heart – even one bent against Him?
This is when I realized I had been wasting some energy. I’d been worrying. I’d been fretting. I’d been spending private time in needless doubt – yet, all the while God was still in control. God is no less upon His throne today than He was yesterday – or will He be tomorrow.
What if I prayed as much – or more – as I worried?
And, I’m a pastor, so I feel obligated to encourage you.
I’m not suggesting you take down your political post or fail to speak out in truth. Yours may be the one voice which gets heard within a crowd of noise. I’m not even suggesting you don’t have your candidate in mind whom you are supporting. I would suggest, however, if you can’t share truth with love – it’s usually best not to share at all.
But, the point of this post is not to silence anyone. I embrace our freedom of speech. It’s not to advocate for or against any candidate. There are plenty of other posts doing that. What I am suggesting – and where I was convicted – is we remember our larger, perhaps more important purpose as followers of Christ. Prayer.
So for now I will pray. I will pray greatly. I will pray daily. And, may prayer never be seen as a lesser or a weaker response.