Praying for our Politicians
Should Christians be bothered about the upcoming election? Isn’t it true that religion and politics shouldn’t mix? We can see the explosive consequences of political religions around the world and in our own country. The ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland still linger as a warning of the way churches can be trapped in sectarianism, as well as providing a beacon for the way in which they can help bring peace. Wouldn’t it be better if Christians steered clear of politics and politicians? After all, Jesus’ kingdom is ‘not of this world.’ (John 18:36).
It’s also tempting to accept the current attitude of many in our society who are deeply sceptical of politicians and political motives. It’s easy to be affected by the cynicism that politicians are inept or only looking out for their own good. We can become disenchanted by party political rhetoric and broken promises. But elections do have real consequences and our politicians have been given real authority.
As a people who seek the welfare of our neighbourhoods, community and city (Jeremiah 29:7), Christians are called to be engaged with politics. Not all of us will have the gifts or inclination to be actively involved in government but we are all called to pray.
The apostle Paul urges Christians to pray with ‘requests, intercessions and thanksgiving’ for those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1). Prayer recognises that we are weak and needy. Praying to the one, true and living God reminds us that we are not God. We’re not in control of history. So we don’t need to panic if events turn in a way we don’t expect.
Prayer also reminds us that politics is only temporary and will never solve the deepest problems of human life. Interceding for our politicians reminds us that God has authority over their lives, as he does over ours. Their hearts are not beyond God’s reach. As Proverbs says: ‘the king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord.’ (Proverbs 21:1) So let’s be praying for our political candidates by name, thanking God for their willingness to shoulder this responsibility and asking for God’s will to be done in their lives.
Prayer also changes things. Prayer changes the political atmosphere. Paul writes that we are to pray so that we may lead ‘quiet and peaceful lives in all godliness and holiness.’ Prayer changes our attitude, encouraging us to be thankful for the good things that God gives us through our political culture. We do face many dangers and difficulties as a community and as a city. The recent terror attack in Manchester could one day happen here. We face challenges in how to care for the most vulnerable in our society.
Our politicians need wisdom and courage to help us face up to these and other problems. But we can be thankful for the generally peaceful times in which we live. We don’t pray because we seek our own ease and comfort but because such lives lead to the spread of God’s good news. Paul writes that it pleases Jesus to use such times to save people and ‘give them a knowledge of the truth’.
(1 Timothy 2:4).
So all Christians are called to be involved politically by praying for our political leaders, seeking that God’s kingdom may come.